Meet Senator Jennifer McClellan
Jennifer McClellan's legislation is signed into law
Jennifer McClellan at the General Assembly
Senator McClellan Meets with constituents
Jennifer McClellan accepting the VEA Legislative Champion Award

Latest News

Jan17

Members of the General Assembly paused Monday to recognize the late Martin Luther King, Jr. It happened on the federal, state and local holiday that honors the slain civil rights leader.

The newest African-American in the State Senate has urged Virginians to honor King’s legacy. Jennifer McClellan (D- Richmond) says there are many ways to accomplish that, including treating others with respect. McClellan also noted Virginia is creating an Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument. It’s scheduled to go on Brown’s Island in the James River. The target date is 2019, the 400th anniversary of the first slaves arriving at Jamestown.

 
Jan16

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 1,000 protesters gathered at the Lee Statue on Monument Avenue on Saturday and marched to Boulevard in solidarity with next week’s Women’s March on Washington protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration as president.

State officials and local activists gave speeches before and after the march, urging more public participation in politics and activism to counter the Trump administration.

“We will fight like we’ve never fought before to make sure all people are treated with love and respect,” Democratic state Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond told the crowd. “We are strong because of this beautiful mosaic of people.”

Many nonprofit advocacy groups – including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Richmond Health Brigade and the Richmond Peace Education Center – had representatives at the event.

“It’s a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Betsy Brinson, a board member for the Peace Education Center. “There’s major peace issues involved at all levels.”

Brinson, a retired Virginia Commonwealth University faculty member, said she been involved with the center for more than 30 years.

“We do youth projects that teach conflict resolution, racial justice and international affairs,” Brinson said. “We are trying to educate people so they can speak out the best way they know how.”

For some, the presidential election was a galvanizing call to action, inspiring citizens to protest for the first time.

“I’ve never been really political before,” said Richmond resident Renee Ramos. “I’ve never marched in anything before.”

Ramos said that from Trump’s policies to his behavior on the national stage, she had to do something to protest his incoming administration.

“This is my first protest,” said Joy Whitenack of Richmond. “We can’t just go out and vote anymore. It’s time to really support justice and equal rights for everyone in the country.”

She said the change in political dialogue and climate over the last few years prompted her to protest.

“It was as great warm-up for next week,” Whitenack said, referring to the Women’s March on Washington, which organizers predict will draw more than 200,000 people.

For others, this was another march in a decades-long fight.

“I used to march a lot in Washington,” said Sherry Baxter of Richmond. “I marched in ’87, in Roe v. Wade and in 2000.”

Baxter said her child was taken from her in the ’80s because she was a lesbian, and that’s when she began marching for civil rights. Unable to find other mothers in the same situation, she said she first marched with gay fathers who had lost their children under similar circumstances.

The parade also played host to large puppet displays and a baton-twirling stilt walker dressed as Uncle Sam.

“I walk on stilts because it’s something you can’t ignore,” said Marcus Fioravante. “People are deaf to most signs and things. What art does to activism is beautiful.”

Building the stilts from found materials like discarded wood, Fioravante said he’s been performing and drawing attention to causes and protests like the March on Monument for three years.

“It confuses the opposition,” said puppeteer Lily Lamberta, founder of All The Saints Theater Company. “It brings a level of circus, color and creativity. You can say really hard-hitting things in a playful and obscure way.”

Just returning from protesting in Standing Rock, North Dakota, last month, Lamberta has been using large symbolic puppetry for protests in Richmond for more than 11 years.

Among the puppets carried in the parade was the “Wake-up Rooster,” which Lamberta said was meant to communicate that it’s time for the American people to wake up to the present dangers and take action.

Lamberta said she plans to take the puppets to Washington next week to protest the inauguration.
Saturday’s march concluded several blocks from the intersection of Monument Avenue and Boulevard, where a small stage was erected for McClellan and newly elected U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin to speak.

“We are going to revisit everything that makes America great,” said McEachin, a Democrat representing the 4th

Congressional District. “It’s about diversity. It’s about love, not hate.”
McEachin said his first objective in office is to protect the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have vowed to repeal.

“They’ve been talking trash for six years, and now they don’t have a plan,” McEachin said. “If they had a replacement, we would’ve seen it by now.”

McEachin said he would push to uncover the influence and scale of Russian cyberattacks during the past election cycle.

“We will not be afraid of the truth, and we will act on that truth,” McEachin said. “Please do not get weary in your well-doing. Democracy is a participatory sport – you need to participate.”

By Jesse Adcock with Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.

Jan14

RICHMOND — As Virginia faces an estimated $1.26 billion budget shortfall, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus announced that its top priority during the General Assembly’s session is to protect funding for K-12 education.

Additionally, the VLBC will focus on criminal justice reform, job creation, increasing the minimum wage and public safety.

“These are the issues we will continue to fight for because there must be a change,” Del. Roslyn Tyler, a Democrat from Jarratt and president of the caucus, said at a news conference Wednesday.

In November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration warned higher education officials at Virginia’s public colleges and universities to anticipate a 7.5 percent reduction from the state general fund. The VBLC said it wants to protect the K-12 budget so schools have the money for academic excellence.

The 17 African American lawmakers are all Democrats, but they hope to work across party lines on issues such as reforming school discipline. For example, the VBLC said it supports three bills filed by Republican Sen. William Stanley of Moneta:

  • SB 995, which would reduce maximum suspensions from 364 calendar days to 45 school days and prohibit long-term suspension from continuing on beyond the current school year.
  • SB 996, which would protect students from expulsion and long-term suspension for disruptive behavior except in cases of physical injury or threat of physical injury.
  • SB 997, which would prohibit suspension or expulsion or students in preschool through fifth grade except for drug offenses, firearms or certain criminal acts.

Republican Del. Richard Bell of Staunton has introduced similar legislation in the House: HB 1534 to reduce the length of suspensions, HB 1535 to prevent expulsion and long-term suspension except in cases of physical injury and HB 1536 to limit the circumstances under which preschool and elementary students can be suspended or expelled.

VLBC member Jennifer McClellan, a state delegate from Richmond, cited findings from the Center for Public Integrity that Virginia schools refer students to law enforcement at nearly three times the national rate.

McClellan, who was elected to the Senate on Tuesday, said that African American students were more likely than white students to be suspended and that students with disabilities were more likely to be suspended than those without disabilities.

The VLBC also wants to boost the minimum wage, which in Virginia is the same as the federal minimum – $7.25 per hour.

Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, introduced SB 978, which would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 1, 2019.

“When people are working, there is less crime,” Dance said.

She said 19 states, including Washington and California, have already increased the minimum wage.

Story by Jessica Nolte with Capital News Service.

Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.


Jan14

Democrat Jennifer McClellan has represented Richmond in Virginia’s House of Delegates for 11 years, but now she’s looking for a change. She’s running for an open seat in Virginia’s State Senate. That district includes much of Richmond City, and parts of Henrico, Hanover, and Charles City counties.

If she wins Tuesday’s special election, McClellan will go from the 100-member House to the 40-member Senate. She sat down with Richmond reporter Mallory Noe-Payne to talk about what switching could mean for her priorities as a lawmaker.

Click here to listen to audio of interview.

 

Our Newsletters

Last week, the 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session convened for 60 days.  It was a historic week!  In the House of Delegates, 19 new members were sworn in, and the Republican majority shrunk to 51-49. On Saturday, Ralph Northam was sworn in as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth, Justin Fairfax was sworn as the 40th Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring was sworn in for a second term as Attorney General.  
 
Against this historic backdrop, the General Assembly began work on thousands of bills and the state biennial budget. I look forward to providing an update on this an other issues over the next six weeks.
On Monday, Governor McAuliffe unveiled the two-year budget covering July 2018 through June 2020. 

You can read the Governor's remarks at the joint money committees meeting here. You can read the Richmond Times-Dispatch's article on the budget here.

Last month we saw a Democratic wave election in which Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring were elected Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General, respectively, and Democrats in the House of Delegates climbed from 34 to 49!   
 
Majority control in the House is still up in the air, as four races go to recount.  In HD-94, Democrat Shelly Simonds trails Republican David Yancy by only 10 votes!  In HD-40, Donte Tanner trails Republican Tim Hugo by 106 votes.  And in HD-28, where 147 voters were given the wrong ballot, Democrat Josh Cole trails Republican Bob Thomas by only 82 votes.  Locally, in HD-68, Republican Manoli Loupassi requested a recount after conceding to Democrat Dawn Adams twice.  Dawn leads by 336 votes.  
 
In local upsets, Courtney Lynch was elected to serve as the Brookland representative on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, flipping control of the Board to Democrats for the first time in decades.  In Chesterfield County, which voted for a Democratic Governor for the first time in over 50 years, Jenefer Hughes was elected to serve as Commissioner of the Revenue.

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