Alumnus seeks office

A Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus vying for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates came back to his alma mater to talk about campaign strategy and his stance on issues facing the commonwealth.

In 1995, Rob Williams graduated VCU with an undergraduate degree in history and a master’s in teaching. He has been teaching at Powhatan High School for seven years as a government teacher, and currently resides in Chesterfield County with his wife.

He talked to a crowd of about 15 VCU Young Democrats members and nonmembers Jan. 28 about improving the quality of the public education system.

“Public education is my number one priority,” Williams said.

Last summer he decided to run for the seat because he said the delegate representing the 65th District was not adequately addressing the public school system statewide.

The 65th District encompasses northern Chesterfield County and Powhatan County in the South Side of Richmond. All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for election in November.

Williams will run against his old friend and former colleague Republican Delegate R. Lee Ware Jr. Ware has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1998.

“It’s an opportunity to run against an old friend of mine,” Williams said. “We used to teach together at Powhatan High School.

“I think he’s a nice guy but he and I disagree politically.”

A staunch Conservative, Lee was chosen by former Gov. George Allen to serve on the Virginia State Board of Education, which determines education policy for the commonwealth.

“While [Ware] was in the State Board of Education, he played an integral part in bringing us the Standards of Learning,” Williams said. “Then my opponent Lee Ware, after a couple of years of SOLs’ accountability, left and went to teach at a private school.

“It kind of rubbed us – Chesterfield and Powhatan – the wrong way.”

Ware taught history and government at Powhatan High School for 15 years before leaving to teach at a private school.

On the state budget, Williams said it’s not a time to cut it. He voted for the education referendum last November.

Williams, a Democrat, said he hopes he will help change the Republican stronghold in the House of Delegates, where currently Republicans occupy 64 of the 100 seats.

Peter Feddo, president of the VCU chapter of Young Democrats, arranged the event.

“Rob really embodies what our organization stands for,” Feddo said. “He did a great job tonight. And he respects my views and the Democrats’ views.”

Other than learning what Williams stands for and who he is, students gave ideas for campaign strategy. Williams knows this campaign won’t be easy because he’s facing an incumbent.

“This is going to be a grassroots campaign,” he said.

He calculated he would need about 20,000 votes to win and said he plans to meet people door to door.

Ware could not be reached by press time.

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