One voter at a time: Sisson builds Democratic campaign for State Senate

Story by Chris Graham

Steve Sisson is quietly, patiently building a state Senate campaign.

The Elkton Democrat is meeting practically every night with voters in different parts of the 24th Senate District – which stretches from Rockingham County to Greene, Albemarle, Highland and Rockbridge in addition to Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro.

And he has been encouraged by what he has been hearing back.

“People are excited about having a choice,” said Sisson, a member of the Rockingham County Planning Commission and the former chairman of the Rockingham County Democratic Committee.

Sisson told The Augusta Free Press on Friday that he should file papers with the 24th Senate District Democratic Committee to indicate his official interest in receiving the party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, by the middle of the month.

Sisson is a Democrat – but not a Hillary Clinton Democrat.

Or a Ted Kennedy Democrat.

He is opposed to tax increases, actually supports the elimination of personal-property taxes because of their regressive nature – and has budget-balancing in his blood.

Before joining the Democratic Party, Sisson was a member of the Reform Party headed by former presidential candidate (and balanced-budget advocate) Ross Perot.

“And I’ve worked in manufacturing for 25 years … and I have a mortgage to pay, just like everybody else,” Sisson said.

“It takes a lot out of my paycheck to pay my bills, and frankly, I think government takes too much of our money as it is. I don’t see that government is run with the goal of achieving the greatest efficiency in mind, and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that way.”

Sisson’s approach is to emphasize local control over local issues – which is something that conservatives preach all the time when they talk about giving power back to the people.

“We need to practice that more at the state level. We need our local elected representatives to stand up and fight for us more in Richmond,” Sisson said.

Sisson knows about fighting in Richmond – spearheading the efforts of a Rockingham County group fighting the construction of the proposed north-south Rockingham County bypass.

“All this road will do is escalate the pace of growth in the areas that it is intended to help,” Sisson said.

“Promoting controlled growth is an important issue to us up here in Rockingham County, and I know that’s the case in Augusta County as well.

“We need to show some leadership on these issues at the local level, and our elected representatives in the House of Delegates and the state Senate need to do the same thing for us in Richmond,” Sisson said.

Sisson knows his campaign against Hanger, a two-term incumbent, could be seen as an uphill battle by some.

He’s used to that – he’s the only Democrat on the Rockingham planning body, for example.

“I think there are a lot more Democrats out there waiting in the woodwork. I think there are more Democrats in this district that are ready to come out and support a Democratic candidate,” Sisson said.

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