Nathan Alderman: Who is Chris Runion?

virginia election
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As I talk to voters in Virginia’s 25th District, I’m struck by how few of them seem to have heard of our incumbent member of the House of Delegates, Chris Runion. He’s up for re-relection on Nov. 2, but many voters don’t seem to know that he exists.

When I looked up Runion’s voting record during his first two years in the General Assembly, I found plenty of practical, bipartisan stances he’s taken, and a few votes I’d unreservedly applaud. He’s also taken abundant positions at odds with my own politics — I don’t care for his unrelenting support for bigotry against immigrants and LGBTQ Virginians (even including children!), among other things.

But I find many of the votes he’s taken especially odd, because I believe some principles shouldn’t be partisan.

In 2020, Runion voted against requiring the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to tell Virginians when it discovered that dangerous substances had been dumped into their drinking water. He also voted that utility companies shouldn’t have to test or clean up polluted well water near their coal ash ponds.

Runion’s repeatedly voted to shield employers from harsher punishments for cheating, mistreating, or stealing wages and benefits from working Virginians. He’s voted against giving Virginia more power to investigate and remedy these crimes. And he’s voted to protect companies that discriminate against, deny promotions to, or fire women for getting pregnant or having children.

In 2019, Runion promised voters lower taxes and more jobs. But in 2021, he voted against legalizing cannabis in Virginia, even after a bipartisan study found that over time, it could create at least 11,000 new jobs for Virginians and $170 million or more each year in net new tax revenue.

Whatever our party or personal convictions, we all deserve to know that the water our families drink is clean and safe. We all deserve to get paid what we’re owed for an honest day’s work. And we all deserve legislators who’ll vote for opportunities to create new jobs while easing the state’s tax burden.

In light of this, and based on his voting record, I can understand why Del. Runion might prefer to remain unknown.

Nathan Alderman resides in Crozet.

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