Stopping The Label

By Hunter Epperson ~ Copy Desk Chief

Virginia governor election: Glenn Youngkin beats Terry McAuliffe
Youngkin. Image from

Nov. 2  was officially election day for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates, some local offices (varies by locality), and believe it or not, I decided to vote Republican for the first time.

Little about me, I am a single young gay man from a middle-class family from Forest, VA where my mother works two jobs, and my father works sometimes 12 hours a week. 

People automatically assume because I am young, and a gay male I was automatically going to vote for Terry McAuliffe solely because of the labels I have, but it was not the case this year.

For the last two previous elections, both being the presidential elections, I decided to vote for Biden in 2020, and Clinton in 2016; but yet I felt like for the governor election, I felt like my state needed change, which is why I voted Republican this time.

Youngkin, Sears, and Byron’s platforms to rejuvenate Virginia’s economy and education system seemed promising.

All three focused on raising the pay for teachers, helping small businesses start and thrive (especially in the midst of a pandemic), and creating reform to help the state become a safer place to raise a family and live.

Bryon, a candidate for the House of Delegates, focused her platform on the fundamentals of education such as reading and math, which really stuck out to me because as a former student of the Virginia public school system, I feel as if our education systems are failing to teach children how to do math and read successfully, especially after a report in 2019 found that only 40% of students in the second grade were meeting the benchmarks

In addition, Youngkin and Sears made it clear that they want to help raise the pay for government workers such as teachers and officers. This really stuck with me because many people refuse to go into those fields because of pay.

Youngkin and the other candidates focused on criminal justice reform, which really stuck with me because I want to ensure that my state continues to be safe for me, my family, and others; and ensure that the state’s crime rate stays below the national average

Also, all three candidates focused on lower taxes, especially abolishing the grocery tax which was created to discourage lower-income families from buying unhealthy surgery foods. However, I felt like the tax was useless because so many people did not know what the purpose of the tax was or where the tax money went, in addition to it not helping the obesity rates in the state

Also, I felt as if McAullife failed the state as a governor. One of the biggest failures which stuck with me and made me decide to ”vote red” was in 2016 when McAullife made a 1.2 million dollar deal with a Chinese company, promising to bring jobs to Appomattox after giving the money to the company before the deal through, just to find out it was a scam and a flop. 

As a citizen of the state, I feel like the Democratic Party has failed me, which is why I decided to vote Republican this election. 

With the rise in taxes, I felt like my money was being wasted on programs I thought were going to help the state. For example, teachers and police officers in my opinion are still being underpaid, the government is failing to help and promote the creation of small businesses, and leaving the education system and our children behind.

Deciding who to vote for this year was tough. I saw the pros and cons of each candidate, but I simply felt the state needed change, especially the economy during a pandemic, and the Republican ballot seemed the most promising. 

While I may have the labels which people assume I would automatically vote Democrat, I decided to break that assumption and decided to vote for who I thought would truly benefit the state.

To learn more about Glenn Youngkin, visit, Terry McAullife, visit, Winston Sears, visit, Kathy Byron, visit 

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