Chesapeake seamstress challenges longtime Del. Jay Leftwich, says she wants to give voters a choice

Chesapeake seamstress challenges longtime Del. Jay Leftwich, says she wants to give voters a choice

Melanie Cornelisse is running as a Democrat in the 78th House District race. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Cornelisse) A Chesapeake seamstress and gun safety advocate has, at the last minute, hopped into the race to claim the 78th House District. Melanie Cornelisse, 48, who lives in the Great Bridge area, will challenge longtime incumbent and Chesapeake lawyer James “Jay” Leftwich Jr., a former Chesapeake school board member who won the seat in 2013 and has run unopposed since. Cornelisse was nominated by the Democratic party by caucus and will appear on the November ballot. Democrats had no qualified candidate to run in Tuesday’s primary, said Andrea Gaines, spokeswoman for Virginia Department of Elections. Another candidate on the Democratic ticket never filed paperwork. “Melanie’s an extremely hard worker,” said David Washington, chairman of the Chesapeake Democratic Committee. He said he hopes that, as a political newcomer, Cornelisse can win over independents and moderate Republicans. “She’s been doing some great work as a community organizer.” For the past three years, Cornelisse has led the Chesapeake chapter of Moms Demand Action, an advocacy group founded shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. It has since merged under Everytown for Gun Safety. Cornelisse supports criminal background checks and laws that would keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers because “we … have a gun violence epidemic.” She pointed to high numbers of gun suicides and how communities of color are disproportionately affected by gun violence — though she also […]

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