Salem has spoken

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Delegate Joe McNamara elected to full term, David Suetterlein wins 19th District Virginia State Senate race

Shawn Nowlin

Joe McNamara addressing supporters after learning of his victory at the Tanglewood Holiday Inn.

History proves that the City of Salem tends to vote Republican at the ballot box. That proved to be the case on November 5 as locals voted David Seutterlein over Flourette “Flo” Ketner for state Senate District 19 and Joe McNamara over Darlene Lewis for Virginia House of Delegates District 8.

McNamara’s District also includes Craig County and parts of Montgomery and Roanoke counties. Suetterlein’s District is comprised of parts of Floyd, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin, Wythe, Bedford and Carroll in addition to Salem.

Over 56,000 people voted in 94 precincts for the state Senate election, compared to 22,000 people in 42 precincts for the House of Delegates election. Suetterlen and McNamara got 72 and 66 percent of the votes, respectively.

Suetterlein joined the Senate in 2015. In addition to advocating for anti-gerrymandering legislation, he has also supported various criminal justice reform over the last four years. A staunch critic of Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy, he has consistently spoke out on both electric utilities regarding their practice of overcharging customers.

While Ketner supported minimum wage and abortion rights, Suetterlein never backed those measures and favored abortion restrictions. The Senator was at Tanglewood Holiday Inn with family, friends and supporters when he found out that he won. Constantly getting his message out is a major reason why Suetterlein thinks people gave him their vote on Tuesday.

Submitted photo
David Suetterlein and his family react after learning of the election results.

Last year McNamara won a special election to serve the remainder of Greg Habeeb’s term after he left to oversee a new office of a local legal firm. Prior to moving to the House, McNamara served almost 20 years on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

“I am a Republican because I believe in the core principles of the Party, which is individual liberty as outlined in the Constitution, the right to life, property rights, free enterprise and family values,” he said. “I have also seen that government functions more efficiently and within its financial means when Republicans are in power. I don’t like taxing citizens – especially when the only ‘solutions’ offered by politicians involve giving taxpayer money to bureaucrats.”

Now that he’s heading back to Richmond, what’s next for McNamara? As he put it, “I’m going to continue work on our tax code and find ways to give people their money back. There is a lot of waste and frivolous spending right now.” McNamara, owner of two local ice cream parlors, is the only Certified Public Accountant currently serving in the General Assembly.

“Having owned and worked in my small businesses for over 25 years, I have a great ability to talk to and connect with folks. All kinds of people come through the doors of the Salem Ice Cream Parlor and Katie’s Ice Cream, and I enjoy getting to know them,” he said. “Some of my best friends are my customers. I’m also very good with numbers and budgeting, so this helps me to ensure that taxpayer money is being used wisely.”

Despite McNamara and Suetterlein winning their individual elections, Democrats took control of both the Virginia Senate and House for the first time in more than 20 years.