Valley Interfaith Action (VIA) brought together 353 leaders from 21 member institutions, corporate and elected leaders on December 7 to secure public commitments for VIA’s first campaigns - to create two new ‘living wage’ childcare centers and bring door-to-door public transit to Rockingham Co, the only place in Va to have ever eliminated public transit.
VIA operates across the red-blue divide. Literally, according to demographers, it is the most red district adjacent to the most blue district anywhere in the country. December 7 was VIA’s first public action since far-right conservatives swept local County elections in November. (Across VA, red districts got redder, blue districts got bluer)
On December 7, the current chair of the County’s board of supervisors (and leader of the new faction), Dewey Ritchie, committed to voting yes and leading for public transit. He commented, “This is beautiful. He is seeing all these people from different faiths and backgrounds together. You are the answer to today’s politics. “
The most likely next chair of the board of supervisors, Supervisor Rick Chandler, changed his schedule to be at the action. From the audience, he stood up while Chair Dewey was talking, raised his hand, and added to Chair Ritchie, “Mr Chairman, I will also vote yes.”
Sentara Hospital committed $50,000 towards the local transit match, saying, “This is the first step of many we hope to take with VIA,” and Massanutten Resort, the County’s largest taxpayer, announced a meeting on January 3 with VIA and their executive team to discuss partnering on childcare.
While Del Wilt (R) and Sen Obenshain (R) had committed to attending, they withdrew at the last minute, citing “a holiday party.” 15 clergy and institutional leaders committed to attending the rescheduled meeting on January 2 to share the disappointment of their members and hope to re-establishing a relationship based on respect so we can take the next step to bring $3.5 million of the $20 million allocated to early childhood education but unspent each year for at least the last five years to create two new pre-k centers, re-claiming tax dollars for Valley families and demonstrating a unique “living wage” model for childcare in Virginia and across