Mike Hamlar is the Democratic nominee in the 19th State Senate district. As you can see from VPAP, this is a sprawling district, covering parts of on town (Salem City) and seven largely rural counties (Roanoke, Franklin, Montgomery, Floyd, Wythe, Carroll, Bedford) in Southwestern Virginia. The 19th is also a strongly Republican district (E.W. Jackson won it by 18 points over Ralph Northam in 2013; Ed Gillespie beat Mark Warner there by 25 points in 2014), so it’s going to be a tough, uphill battle for any Democratic candidate there.
All of which makes it even more impressive that Democrat Mike Hamlar has been working so hard, despite having a business to run and a young family as well, to bring better representation in the Virginia State Senate to his district.
As you can see from the interview, Hamlar’s top priority is clearly education, and specifically improving public education. Also, with regard to education, as Hamlar states on his website, “Rather than have an educational system centered around standardized tests, we need to find a balance to let our teachers teach and foster creativity in our children.” I couldn’t agree more. Another issue that comes up in the inteview is gun violence, of which the WDBJ 7 family is painfully aware. Hamlar is with the vast majority of Virginians in wanting universal background checks, an end to the “gunshow loophole,” and other commnonsense gun safety measures. Hamlar’s also a big supporter of Medicaid expansion, something that would greatly help the people of his State Senate district. Finally, Hamlar says he “stand[s] with the people of the 19th Senate District as they protect their land, their water quality, and their property rights from the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” and promises as State Senator to “work vigilantly to repeal Virginia Statue 56-49.01, that allows natural gas companies to survey private land without the owner’s permission.”
Combine all that with Hamlar’s outstanding biography – the story he relates about taking over the family business at age 22 following the deaths of his father and great uncle alone has to make you like this guy – and this choice SHOULD be a no-brainer for voters in the 19th Senate District on Tuesday, assuming they don’t just vote the party line. We’ll see what happens, but regardless, thanks to Mike Hamlar for putting himself out there for public office, as well as for advocating a strong, progressive agenda for the people of his district and of Virginia more broadly. Good luck on Tuesday and beyond!