Spotlight on Senate District 16: Match up between VanValkenburg and Dunnavant

These two familiar faces already inside the Virginia Statehouse are now vying to represent the new redrawn District 16.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 9:21 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - They are two familiar faces already inside the Virginia Statehouse - lawmakers in opposite chambers and political parties who are now vying to represent the newly redrawn Senate District 16.

“I want to keep focusing on the things that make Virginia a prosperous place, a place where families want to be, where families can grow, and kids can go off and do great things,” said Schuyler VanValkenburg, Democratic candidate for Senate District 16.

VanValkenburg is looking to move into the Senate after six years in the House.

The Henrico County teacher says he championed bipartisan legislation to streamline SOL testing by giving teachers more say, and says a top priority would be a safe storage bill to reduce gun violence. But VanValkenburg says he will draw a line over any potential abortion restrictions.

“People are really afraid that their rights and freedoms are going to be taken away, and so you’re hearing a lot about that,” said VanValkenburg.

Republican Siobhan Dunnavant sees it differently and is making it very clear where she stands on the issue by calling for a 15-week ban.

“I think criminalizing abortion is not the way that we actually solve the problems we have to address,” said Dunnavant.

An ob-gyn of 24 years, Dunnavant says the answer is expanding reproductive healthcare access for women, including birth control.

During her eight years in the Senate, she has reduced cases of duplicate medical testing while also making sure doctors write prescriptions a patient can afford.

“It’s really about efficiencies and life experience and applying those to ways we can make things work better in Virginia,” said Dunnavant.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, based on redistricting, the race for Senate District 16 leans Democrat.