2021 Elections: Questions for candidates in the 84th Virginia House District Democratic Primary

Tracie Liguid and Kim Melnyk seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 84th Virginia House of Delegates District. [Photos by David B. Hollingsworth/For The Princess Anne Independent News]
Ed. — The Independent News asked the two candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination to the 84th House of Delegates District to answer questions about their candidacies. These answers have not been edited by the newspaper, aside from basic formatting and some simple copy editing. This district is in the newspaper’s immediate coverage area, which includes southern Virginia Beach and the Oceanfront. Please send any feedback or letters to letters@princessanneindy.com or reach the editor via jhd@princessanneindy.com.

The 84th Virginia House District [Virginia Public Access Project]


Residence: Christopher Farms in Virginia Beach

Age: 54

Occupation: Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach School Board and former VBCPS educator

Education: Longwood University, B.S., Elementary Education

Key endorsements: Virginia Beach Councilmember Aaron Rouse, Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Phil Kellam and Virginia Beach School Board Chairperson Carolyn Rye  

Website: kimfordelegate.com

Phone: (757) 301-1603

Email: info@kimfordelegate.com

Social Media: @kimfordelegate on Facebook and @kimmelnyk on Twitter

What are your specific qualifications for this office?

I have lived in Virginia Beach for over forty years, and I am bringing my experience as Vice Chair of the School Board, a former teacher, a parent, a small business owner, and a lifelong resident to this office. I have worked for over six years as a member of the Virginia Beach School Board, where I have advocated for the needs of our students, teachers, and parents, including working directly with legislators to bring our community’s concerns to the General Assembly. I know how to get results, like implementing full day kindergarten and reaching 100% accreditation; but I also bring my experience as a member of the community I will be representing. I will work hard every day for the 84th District in Richmond, because that is what I have been doing my entire career.

What are your three main policy priorities or examples of legislation you would pursue in Richmond?

Education will be my top priority in the House of Delegates. We need to invest in a strong future for Virginia, and that future starts with our children. We must start by fully funding public education. We need to raise our teachers’ pay, and at least bring it to the national average. We need to prioritize funding for public education, including special education and mental and behavioral health services.

I will also prioritize recovering and rebuilding after COVID-19. Our local economy and small businesses need help to get back on their feet after the pandemic. As a small business owner myself, I have seen firsthand the impact the pandemic had on our community, and the ways in which we can uplift our local economy. We must provide our businesses with resources and funding to keep their doors open, take care of their employees, and build back stronger.

Finally, access to affordable, quality health care is vital. Expanding Medicaid was a huge step in the right direction, but families are still struggling. We need to make it a priority to lower overall health care costs, drive down the cost of prescription drugs, and increase access to coverage.

What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected?

Education. Every single issue can be traced back to education. Prioritizing education strengthens our families, our communities, and our local economy. We have made great strides in Virginia Beach, but we still have much more to do, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teachers still need a raise. We still need funding for services to support our students’ development as well as their learning. We still need to work to make equity and diversity a top priority in our schools. I have worked tirelessly for our schools, for over a decade as a teacher, and now as a School Board member, and I will continue to build on this work in the General Assembly.

How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education?

As a member of the Virginia Beach School Board, I have been advocating for state support to local education efforts since 2014. As a member of the legislative committee, I worked with local representatives like former School Board member Delegate Nancy Guy to bring the concerns of our students, teachers, and parents to the House of Delegates. I have experienced firsthand what a difference it makes to have representatives who care about education and work with our city leaders to make these issues a priority, and as your representative I will continue those efforts.  I know how important it is to invest in education, and to listen to the students and educators who are directly affected by these policies. I will continue my work on the School Board to raise teacher pay, and work toward the goal of fully funding public education in Virginia.

What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community, which represents the commonwealth’s largest industry?

Agriculture is one of Virginia’s top private sector industries, and we need to make investments to strengthen our agricultural businesses, especially in the wake of COVID-19. We need to support local farmers with investments to make sure their businesses can come out the other side of the pandemic, and continue to grow. The impact of flooding on our local agriculture economy also needs to be addressed. We need to give farms resources to recover from past flooding, and prepare and protect them in the future. I am proud of the work that VBCPS has done in technical and career education, and I want to continue to build on that to give students even more opportunities to pursue a career in agriculture. We should expand partnerships between schools and agricultural businesses to recruit, train, and hire talent into the agriculture industry.

Do you support access to reproductive health care for women? Why or why not?

I fully support access to reproductive health care for women. I am proud that Virginia has passed the Equal Rights Amendment, but we clearly have a long way to go before reaching full equality for women, and access to reproductive health care is where we need to start. This should not be up for debate: the care that a woman needs to maintain her health is between her and her physician, and no one else. 

How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise and recurrent flooding?

Virginia Beach is already being deeply impacted by coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise. More than ever, we are realizing the need to prepare our communities, and to invest in a greener future. I will work to equip our community with the resources and infrastructure it needs to recover from damage already caused by flooding, and to prepare against future instances. The more we invest in preparations, the more we’ll save in the long run from recovery. But we need to look further into the future than just how to prepare for damage caused by climate change. I will work to increase investments in renewable energy, and build a green economy that will strengthen our community and build a stronger, renewable future for Virginia Beach.


Residence: Virginia Beach

Age: 49 

Occupation: Freelance writer

Education: James Madison University and George Mason University Undergraduate 

Key endorsements: Virginia state Del. Sam Rasoul

Website: tracie4vb.com

Phone: (609) 805-5535

Email: info@tracie4vb.com

Social Media: @Tracie4VB on Twitter and Facebook

What are your specific qualifications for this office?

I have a deep understanding, love and respect for our district. My family and I are longtime residents of Magic Hollow, near Lynnhaven Mall.

My career roots are in journalism. In the late 1990’s,  I was a part of the small team to migrate print The Virginian-Pilot readers to the digital news space with my work for PilotOnline.com/HamptonRoads.com and we even produced HamptonRoads.tv. I am very proud of my work connecting our communities through information and events.

I am a listener and a team team player who always works to reflect and produce the truth and evoke meaningful thought and action. As a writer, community advocate and public school educator, I am sensitive to the lives and needs of this constituency.

From Tidewater to Coastal Virginia, my vision for how District 84 is governed encourages participation, wellness and prosperity for all.

What are your three main policy priorities or examples of legislation you would pursue in Richmond?

The three most important issues for my campaign are engagement, wellness and equity. 

Many people are disenchanted with government  overall. I will work to breakdown the barriers to civic and political engagement so that fellow citizens feel welcome and become active and effective within the processes to affect change in one’s community.

Secondly, the levels of stress a person experiences can devastate a person’s economics. Ensuring that all people have healthcare access, health resources & education to live a healthy, happy and peaceful lifestyle is key to our community’s overall well-being.

Wellness is strongly tied to equity.  As a second generation Filipina American, I understand the value of education and how it can level the socio-economic playing field.  As a longtime substitute and an aspiring special education teacher,  I would support competitive teachers and education staff  pay, the removal of standardized testing requirements and reassessing how classroom success should be better tracked. Lastly, I would continue to advocate for the safest in-person learning standards for the entire community, with special focus on our POC school reopenings are done in a safe and equitable way. 

What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected?

The most important issue challenging the people of D-84 is our lack of representation in local and statewide government, as well as the lack of expectation of our entire district citizenry to be engaged in advocacy processes.  Many residents do not understand how to get involved in governmental processes to help affect change in their own communities. The barriers of engagement entry are high. 

When elected to the House of Delegates, I will develop an outreach strategy to encourage and make citizen engagement more easily understood and easier to accomplish. I will also address the “desert of unregistered voters” 

Also, I will work with existing stakeholders who want to make running for local public office more equitable, accessible and encouraging for all.

How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education?

Virginia has the best higher education system in the country. As a graduate of JMU and GMU I am a testament to that. In addition to 4 year colleges the Commonwealth has an incredible group of community colleges that we need to expand awareness of to promote attendance. 

I would support local education by continuing to be an advocate against SOL tests. As someone that worked in public schools in Virginia Beach, I know that these antiquated tests don’t work. I believe we need to fully implement and fund the revised Standards of Quality as it was adopted by the VA Board of Education earlier this year. We need to be teaching our children to think critically, not how to pass a specific kind of test that does not actually measure progress. 

I also think we need to understand the impact that COVID 19 and remote learning has had on our children and understand that the impacts will be with us for a long time. That comes by commissioning studies to understand learning gaps and making sure that our school system and administrations are prepared for another pandemic should one ever come. 

Finally, I would be an advocate for higher education policy and partnerships to meet the needs of our dynamic marketplace and local industries. I would strengthen the relationship between our public schools, two and four year colleges with local employers and I would advocate for innovations in curriculum that prepare our vulnerable communities to be competitive in the future marketplace. Also, I would seek to encourage social entrepreneurship initatives that help address our community’s inequities and offer an environment where our most vulnerable can thrive.

What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community, which represents the commonwealth’s largest industry?

Virginia Beach in its entirety has an agrarian heritage that could be more fully honored and marketed to diversify and amplify our tourism industry.  District 84 is home to one of our oldest Farmers Markets and is one of the gateways to historic Pungo and Creeds.

Our residents plan or rely on annual festivals such as the Strawberry Festival and Haunted Hunt Club Farm and more.. During COVID,  these events were not held and our region suffered both job loss and $$$. In the future District 84 could help extend the life of these traffic-driving events with businesses and communities working in tandem to promote our region’s annual events.

Additionally, I strongly support environmental research,  encouraging and rewarding sustainable practices and agricultural stewardship to make sure we are preserving our land for future generations. 

I also support federal programs like the American Rescue plan which provided resources for farmers that have been impacted by COVID19. 

I also support existing tree canopy restoration efforts as a way to address flooding.

Do you support access to reproductive health care for women? Why or why not?

I am unequivocally pro-choice. 

I am running a heavily values-based campaign. Creating equity and wellness are cornerstone values for me and one of the reasons  I decided to run for public office. That manifests in the form of advocating for every community that I would represent and fighting to make sure that traditionally overlooked communities have access and wellness.

Choice is a great example of this cornerstone. Too frequently, women of color and women in poor communities do not have the same access to abortion services, contraceptives, and basic information that those in more affluent circumstances do. We need to make sure those services and that information is available to everyone. This is a core tenant for why I am running for office and why I would be a pro-choice advocate in Richmond. I am a community educator that cares deeply about equity,

How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise and recurrent flooding?

I will align policies to fully support Virginia Beach’s Sea Level Wise Adaptation Strategy. I will work to ensure commercial and residential development is in alignment with sustainable practices. I will also be focused on supporting measures that penalize behaviors such as littering and pollution which lead to sewage stoppage and exacerbate existing flooding issues.

Additionally, we need to incentivize the transition away from fossil fuels and toward green energy and electrical vehicles. Virginia would benefit from the creation of a tax credit to buy electric vehicles. We’ve seen this program work on the federal level and other states have run similar programs. We need to continue to invest in green energy. Green energy sources like offshore wind are not only viable energy alternatives but are also large job creators. We need to view green energy as an economic engine that will bring high paying and union jobs to our area in addition to a climate solution. 

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