Rise of young lawmakers in General Assembly

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A sea of change flooded into the General Assembly this session. During the 2017 election cycle, Virginians voted in a wave of young legislators.

In last year's session, lawmakers under the age of 45 represented 22 percent of the body. In 2018, they make up 34 percent; a 55-percent increase.

"A creative jolt of new energy that has brought a lot of new ideas and perspectives to the body," said House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-57th).

During his time in the house, Toscano has seen a shift in the House with more young faces seeking office.

“When I first ran, people would ask me was I even old enough to vote," Delegate Lashrecse Aird (D-63rd).

Aird was sworn in as the youngest women ever elected to Virginia's House of Delegates at the age 29 in 2016. The young Democrat recalls her first time on the campaign trail.

"It was an uphill battle because people were so fixated on my age," she said.

With more young delegates on the floor, she says this year was different, working with so many fresh and excited lawmakers.

Two of those are Delegate Jerrauld “Jay” Jones (D-89th), age 28, and Delegate Emily Brewer (R- 64th), age 33.

"I think the age was actually an advantage for us," Jones said.

"I don’t think my age was a detriment, I think it was a compliment when I was campaigning," Brewer said.

Brewer is the youngest woman Republican ever elected in the House.

During the 2017 election cycle, voters were enthusiastic about young Virginians getting involved in politics. The young lawmakers agree that if you're young and interested in running for office, you shouldn't let your age discourage you.

Throughout the current session, these young lawmakers have been working along party lines.

"We're having conversations, and finding ways to govern in a non-divisive manner and civility," Aird said.

Recently, young members of the body teamed up to create the bipartisan Virginia State Future Caucus, a new caucus consisting of members under the age of 45.

Aird says this is something members have tried to do for years. She believes the caucus will help push through more bills with which Millennials can relate.

The average remains between the ages of 56 and 65.

The comments sections of CBS19News.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. CBS19News.com tracks IP addresses. Repeat violators may be banned from posting comments.
View Comment Guidelines
powered by Disqus