Good morning, and happy summer!
Today marks the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. We'll enjoy a full 14 hours and 41 minutes of daylight.
While it'll feel more like spring today, we can expect the summer-like heat and humidity to start creeping back tomorrow, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3.
There are also several chances for storms this week - some of which may be severe - particularly on Wednesday night. The weekend should bring highs in the low to mid-80s.
Primary elections are currently underway in Virginia, so you'll find a special edition of the newsletter today, featuring a quick voting guide.
If you have questions, comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please hit "reply" to this email to get in touch with me. (Quick note: I'm still catching up on all of the replies I received after requesting feedback about the format of the weekly event newsletters, but I truly appreciate the input I've gotten from each one of you!)
Now to the news.
Virginia's primary elections are today, Tuesday, June 21. Primaries will be held in five of the state's 11 congressional districts - the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th.
Two of the districts are in Hampton Roads: the 2nd District and the 3d District. There will be no primaries in Virginia's 1st or 4th District races.
The race in the 2nd Congressional District will be closely watched throughout the state and beyond, particularly because it's considered a swing district. The candidate who wins the Republican primary today will face off against Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who is running unopposed.
The 2nd district encompasses York County, the City of Williamsburg and part of Hampton. It also includes Accomack, Northampton, Virginia Beach and parts of Norfolk.
The four candidates running on the Republican ballot are Tommy Altman, Jarome Bell, Andy Baan and Jen Kiggans. Kiggans, a state senator from Virginia Beach, is the highest-profile candidate of the bunch.
Who are they?
Kiggans, 50, is a U.S Navy veteran who currently works as a geriatric nurse practitioner. She was elected to serve in the state senate in 2019 but announced a bid for Congress after redistricting boosted her chances of winning the seat.
Top priorities: Kiggans wants to strengthen the economy by developing more domestic energy sources, cutting taxes and reducing government spending. She also supports reinforcing border security and reducing the U.S's economic dependence on China. Website: jenforcongress.com.
Baan, 64, is also a Navy veteran. He received a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq. Baan previously worked as a prosecutor and defense contracting manager and is now a cybersecurity specialist.
Top priorities: Baan's top priorities include balancing the budget, supporting law enforcement and reducing federal spending. Website: andybaan.com.
Altman is a 41-year-old Air Force Special Operations veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He owns and operates Sandbridge Tattoo in Virginia Beach and is endorsed by Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.
Top priorities: Altman is focused especially on reigning in government overreach and says he'll fight for stronger states' rights if elected. Website: www.tommy4va.com.
Bell, 55, is a 27-year Navy Veteran. He owns a small business in Virginia Beach, Line6 Recruiting Services, which is designed to help students obtain college athletics scholarships.
Top priorities: Bell is particularly committed to providing stronger support for veterans, especially those who are homeless or need medical or mental health care. He also bills himself as a supporter of conservative family values and says he's strongly pro-life. Website: jaromebellforcongress.com.
The 3rd district is the only other Congressional district in Hampton Roads that has a primary Tuesday. The 3rd district includes Newport News and part of Hampton.
Two Republicans, Theodore Engquist and Terry Namkung, are running to take on Democratic Rep. Robert "Bobby" Scott.
Scott is running unopposed and there is no Democratic primary in the district.
Namkung and Engquist are both newcomers to politics. Neither has ever held elected office.
Who are they?
Namkung, 44, is a retired Air Force veteran. He currently lives in Yorktown and works as a defense consultant for the U.S military. Namkung describes himself as a conservative Christian.
Top priorities: Namkung says he wants to defend religious freedom, reduce crime and poverty, tighten border security and strengthen parents' rights within public education. Website: namkungforvirginia.com.
Engquist, 51, works for the Virginia Department of Transportation as a quality control engineer. He is also a licensed minister.
Top priorities: Engquist is heavily advocating for more legislative transparency. He also wants to lower energy prices by increasing U.S oil production and reopening coal mines in Virginia. Website: tedforcongress2022.com.
Primary Day Guidelines
Polls will be open in Virginia from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm. You can find your polling center here.
You'll need to present an acceptable form of ID, such as a Virginia driver's license, DMV-issued ID card or valid passport, in order to vote. A full list of acceptable IDs can be found here.
Need to figure out which voting district you're in? Check out the Virginia General Assembly's tool, "Who's My Legislator?," here.
Absentee ballots need to be postmarked by June 21 and received by the local registrar by no later than 12:00 pm on June 24. Absentee ballots can also be dropped off at designated locations. More information on absentee voting is available here.
The Williamsburg Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject a proposal that would've allowed some homes in the area to be used as short-term rentals, the Virginia Gazette reports.
Short-term rentals are defined as dwellings or spaces that are intended to be occupied for fewer than 30 days. They're typically used as vacation rentals. Localities are allowed to regulate short-term rentals per a Virginia General Assembly law passed in 2017.
The vote came after Williamsburg residents resoundingly expressed disproval of the amendment, which would've permitted some city residences to operate as short-term, whole-house rentals with a special use permit.
Many residents voiced concerns that such rentals could have a negative impact on local neighborhoods.
"This would, I fear... create a town that none of us envisioned when we moved here," Ruth Kaiser, a resident of Richmond Road, said during the public meeting.
In a letter sent to the city council, residents Chris and Molly Gareis urged the Board to "protect and strengthen our single-family, historic neighborhoods and the owner-residents who live in them by voting against [the proposal]."
The amendment would've greenlighted short-term rentals, like B&Bs, in non-owner-occupied houses along major streets like Jamestown Road and Capitol Landing Road. Additionally, weddings, receptions and other major events would've been permitted with a special use permit on properties with more than one acre.
Thomas Patton, the applicant, owns the Aldrich House Bed & Breakfast in town and was requesting an amendment to current regulations for short-term rentals.
Documentation submitted in support of the amendment stated that the allowance of short-term rentals could boost tourism and entice more families to stay in town.
But in a Planning Department report, the city council cited several key considerations that led to their decision to turn down the proposal, including concerns about increased traffic, noise and other nuisances.
The council also raised concerns about negative impacts on the housing market, including the potential for increased housing costs and a lower number of permanent homes available to renters and homeowners.
Families living in the Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park are continuing to face a dire situation. Though the residents have pooled their money to hire an attorney, the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport - the owner of the property - is moving forward with plans to shut down the park and force them out. Officials from the airport say they're no longer profiting off of the park.
Residents fear they'll be left homeless. Many say they cannot afford the steep costs involved in moving their mobile homes, and most local parks will not allow older homes to be moved in.
Local officials working to help with the situation say the timing couldn't be worse. It's nearly impossible for local residents to find affordable housing as inflation exacts a heavy toll.
The airport is offering tenants a small stipend to leave, but families living there say it isn't enough. The compensation decreases based on the length of time residents take to leave. Families who moved out by the end of May were offered $2,000. Those who leave by the end of this month will receive $1,000. Anyone who remains after July will not be compensated.
"We have a lot of people, 80 families here. There’s a lot of kids here; they’re going to be homeless," Angel Del Valle, a resident of the park, told WTKR News 3.
In a statement sent to WTKR, Gov. Youngkin's office said they were aware of the situation and are looking into it.
On Saturday, Faith Baptist Church hosted a community-wide prayer event for the residents of the park, calling the airport's actions "an evil thing against the people that can least afford it."
A Personal Property Tax Relief Hardship Program was approved by the Board of Supervisors at its June 7 meeting, and local residents can now apply. The program was established to help provide relief to families amid the unexpected rise in vehicle values reflected in this year's tax assessment.
Residents can request property tax relief through the program by calling (757) 890-3885 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
To qualify, a household's gross income must be below $55,000, and applicants must be current on all personal property tax payments. Additionally, applicants' personal property taxes must have increased by at least $100. The maximum relief per household is $250.
To view the application for 2022 personal property tax relief, click here.
Taxes are due June 25, with a 2% late penalty. The late penalty normally would increase to 10% beginning July 21. However, this year, the lower 2% penalty will remain in place until September 30 to allow citizens more time to pay the first half of their personal property tax bill.
The Board of Supervisors and staff are also reviewing additional options for providing relief to county taxpayers for December bills.
Local Covid-19 Update
New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 17,777 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That's down from the 20,114 cases reported during the previous week.
The highest numbers of new cases on the Peninsula last week were reported in Newport News (+337), Hampton (+233) and James City County (+179), according to WTVR News 6.
Hospitalizations and deaths: 🚑 An additional 242 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (down from 288 the week before), according to VDH data. 12 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (down from 17 the week before), according to VDH.
Vaccination rate:💉73.8% of Virginians are fully vaccinated ( no change from last week).
Major Supreme Court decisions expected soon: The Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of key rulings soon as it nears the end of its session. Several decisions on hot-button issues could come as early as this week, including rulings on abortion rights, concealed carry gun laws and religious liberty, CBS News reports.
White House considers a gas tax holiday: The White House is weighing the possibility of implementing a federal gas tax holiday, and President Biden says his decision will come this week. The tax holiday would suspend the federal tax collected on gas, saving drivers 18.4 cents per gallon. However, critics worry the move could ultimately worsen inflation, per USA Today.
Outrage mounts over police response in Uvalde: Multiple police officers were fully equipped to take down the gunman who killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, but they waited nearly an hour before intervening, the AP reports. As federal investigations continue to analyze the response to the tragedy, parents and community members are calling for the district Police Chief Pete Arredondo to resign, according to ABC News. "Having Pete still employed, knowing he is incapable of decision-making that saves lives is terrifying," said Brett Cross, the uncle of a student who was killed in the shooting.
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