Feld, former School Board candidate, announces run as Democrat to challenge incumbent Knight in 81st District

Jeffrey Feld, at left in this combined image, is a podiatrist who recently announced his candidacy as a Democrat in the 81st Virginia House District. If he becomes the party nominee, he would challenge longtime incumbent state Del. Barry Knight, a Republican from Back Bay who is seen in the center image. Jeff Staples, an auto mechanic from Chesapeake seen at right, is also in the race as an independent. [Left and right courtesy photos; center image by The Independent News]
Ed. — From the Sunday, Feb. 14, print edition.


VIRGINIA BEACH — Jeffrey “Doc” Feld, a podiatrist from the Red Mill area, will run as a Democrat in the 81st Virginia House District, which includes much of southern Virginia Beach.

Feld ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board this past year, placing last among five candidates seeking one of two at-large seats.

“The 81st encompasses a lot of Virginia Beach and a lot of Chesapeake,” Feld said, “and I think the current representative has not been looking out for everybody as a whole.”

Feld, should he become the party’s nominee, would challenge incumbent state Del. Barry Knight, who is seeking reelection and has represented the district since 2009.

Knight is a farmer and businessperson from Back Bay in a district that includes rural communities and a number of conservative voters. Jeff Staples, a mechanic from Chesapeake who challenged Knight in 2015, is in the race as an independent.

Feld’s campaign for School Board was his first run for public office. In the five-person race for one of two seats, Feld won 11.9 percent of the vote, according to returns reported by the state elections department. 

That was well below two incumbents who won reelection but in the running with two other challengers who had some support from either the local Democratic city committee or the Virginia Beach Education Association.

“I did think that was overwhelming support for running as an independent,” Feld said, noting he had earned more than 36,000 votes in the citywide contest.

Virginia General Assembly races draw far fewer voters than citywide elections, though Knight has outperformed other Republicans in the district and won two years ago after redrawn district lines made the 81st a bit less Republican.

Knight, during a telephone interview, said he had only just learned about Feld’s candidacy. 

“Anybody has the right to run in the 81st District,” Knight said. “I’m just the people’s representative.”

Knight said he hopes to continue to represent his neighbors, and he said he keeps his door open to anybody in the district and prides himself on constituent service.

During a recent interview with The Independent News, Knight discussed his experience, his seniority and hand in shaping the budget process and his work on local issues, such as issues related to recurrent flooding and his history of addressing issues such as the effects of the menhaden fishing industry.

“I really enjoy being a voice for my neighbors down here,” Knight said.

Via email, Staples on Monday, Feb. 8, wrote, “I wish to welcome Dr. Feld into the race. I believe more voices means better choices.”

During an interview on Thursday, Feb. 4, Feld said his top priority remains education, but he also wants to work on environmental issues specific to the district, such as issues surrounding Back Bay, and business development. He included agriculture under his business development priorities.

Feld said he wants to work to protect the environment while supporting business opportunities. He said he supports Second Amendment rights, a major issue with Democrats in control in Richmond, while supporting gun ownership and hunting.

“I believe in the Second Amendment,” he said. “By the same token, we can have common sense laws that still do not inhibit people from personal protection, that do not inhibit people from hunting.”

Feld said he would look for solutions and try to build consensus.

“My job when I’m elected is not to always side with the majority,” Feld said. “… When I ran as a School Board, I ran as an independent so I would not be beholden to anybody. I’m the same person who ran for School Board.”

© 2021 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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