Defeated decisively two years ago by Republican Chris Head in the battle for the 17th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, Freeda Cathcart is ready to try again.
Cathcart, a civic activist and Democratic Party leader who opened a regional headquarters last year, announced her intention to run again outside Burlington Elementary School on March 7. She’ll have to gather 125 signatures and then be nominated by the party before facing off on November 5 against Head, a conservative Republican and the owner of a home health care business.
Cathcart, who has advocated for midwifery and women’s rights in the past, was introduced before making her way to the podium by state Senator John Edwards. The long time Democrat lawmaker declared Cathcart would be “a great member of the House of Delegates,” if she were to beat the odds to get elected in a GOP-leaning district that covers parts of Roanoke City and Roanoke County.
Edwards said he needed “a partner,” in the quest to bring Amtrak passenger rail service to Roanoke in the next several years, and he said Cathcart would promote public education. He also declared that the would-be candidate would support the expansion of Medicare in Virginia to cover about half of the one million Virginians currently without health insurance. That would create about 30,000 jobs said Edwards, who also figures that health insurance premiums “should actually go down,” since those with insurance would no longer be paying for those without.
Cathcart, the mother of four sons who has home schooled them in the past, said that young people “need to have good jobs,” if they want to stay in the Roanoke Valley. She said public schools were not receiving the “resources,” needed from the General Assembly either. Teachers are also “frustrated by Richmond’s overreach into our classrooms.”
The Roanoke College graduate reiterated her support for an Amtrak station and said transportation infrastructure needs in southwestern Virginia must be addressed. The descendant of a Suffragette, Cathcart also announced that she will revive a local chapter of the League of Women Voters: “we haven’t finished our journey.”
That also means more women in the General Assembly would be a good idea – currently only 18% are women said Cathcart. “We will be enriched,” she added if more women were sent to Richmond. Former City Council members Rupert Cutler and Linda Wyatt were on hand to wish Cathcart well as she begins a long campaign season that ends on November 5th.
By Gene Marrano