As the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 9th Congressional District, Taysha DeVaughan, will now face off against the current 9th Congressional District representative, Republican Morgan Griffith, who has held the seat since 2011.
DeVaughan, a member of the Comanche Nation who moved from Oklahoma to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, in 2011, decided to run for office saying she believes citizens that make up Virginia’s 9th Congressional District deserve to be heard.
“I know that we deserve better. I know what it’s like to be dismissed, I know what it’s like to be unheard, and I really just want to do my best to make sure that that does not continue to happen to the 9th District,” DeVaughan said.
While on the campaign trail, DeVaughan, has had the opportunity to have dialogue with the diverse communities that make up the 9th District. She said she has found people she has talked to are most concerned about kitchen table issues such as access to quality education, health care, fair wages and employment opportunities for the future.
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“I’ve been speaking to our aging populations. I’ve been speaking to our youth and our communities of color, I have been speaking to our LGBTQIA+ communities, and I was meeting with labor leaders last week, and what I have found to matter are the kitchen table issues, and that is what I’m going to focus on. The things that keep us up at night,” DeVaughan said.
DeVaughan recalled meeting Griffith when she and a group of fellow activists lobbied for the Black Lung excise tax and was left disillusioned by his response. She attributed the encounter as an activating moment in her trajectory as a community organizer, which has culminated in her running against him for office.
“He [Griffith] only gave us like five minutes and was very easily able to say no, and that he needed to speak with companies and corporations,” DeVaughan said. “I remember walking away from that just feeling so angry and disgusted, and like I just had to do something.”
When DeVaughan encounters community members who are skeptical or that disagree with her on the campaign trail, she always makes a point of starting her dialogue with them by asking them a simple question.
“What can you tell me that has benefitted you from this representation in the last 10 years? And if you can’t think of anything, right off the top of your head, then give me five minutes. Let’s just talk,” DeVaughan said. “A lot of times, that opens up that door.”
DeVaughan believes the communities that make up the 9th District deserve a representative in Washington who will listen to them and take action.
“We deserve to have somebody that is going to listen, that’s going to hear, who’s not the one to dismiss,” DeVaughan said. “People who vote for me, they could have trust that I’m going to bring their voice to Washington. Not just my voice, our voice.”