84th District House of Delegates candidate profile: Nadarius Clark

Published 5:46 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

Republican and Democratic primaries are set for June 20 to decide each party’s nominee for the new 84th House of Delegates District, which spans the Isle of Wight County-Suffolk border and includes Franklin and a small area of Chesapeake. Nadarius Clark and Michele Joyce of Smithfield are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Smithfield Times asked 10 questions of each candidate.

Name: Nadarius Clark

Age: 27

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Occupation: Mental Health Counselor and General Consultant

Prior elected offices held: House of Delegates, district 79

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for the 84th District?

I have deep ties to Suffolk. It is where I work as a mental health counselor and where my family and I go to church. My closest family ties are in Harbourview, Downtown Suffolk, and Smithfield. I am running for re-election in the 84th District because I want to keep fighting for the people of Hampton Roads. I am excited to represent and continue working hard for our families and I have the energy and experience to get things done.

2. Who is your political role model? Why?

As a VUU graduate, I have to acknowledge the significance of Virginia’s election of this nation’s first black governor, Governor Douglas Wilder as my role model. Trailblazers like Governor Wilder were very inspiring to me and particularly during my politically formative years in undergrad, he had a big impact.

3. What change, if any, to state law would you like to see in the wake of last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade?

As a member of the house of delegates, I was a patron of State Sen. Jen McLellan’s bill to enshrine a woman’s right to choose into Virginia’s constitution. If re-elected, I will continue to fight for this critical legislation. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we have seen an unprecedented attempt to take Virginia backwards on reproductive healthcare. And as someone with a 100% pro-choice voting record, I will always be an advocate for women’s rights.

4. Should school personnel be required to use transgender students’ preferred names, pronouns and/or not reveal their gender identity to their parents? Why or why not?

My heart breaks for the young people in our Commonwealth and around the country who have been impacted by fundamentally dehumanizing legislation in states like Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and beyond that erase the very real identity of our trans youth. As the youngest delegate in Virginia, I stand firmly with the trans community. We should not be requiring our teachers to “out” their students. In 21st century America, amidst global pandemics and mass shooter drills, it’s hard enough to be a kid these days.

5. Do you agree with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order banning “divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory” from public schools? Why or why not?

Critical race theory is not taught in our public schools and never has been. Youngkin campaigned hard on eliminating critical race theory as part of a divisive campaign to turn parents against teachers and capitalized on the fears of many Virginians. His executive order followed through on a hollow campaign promise, but what is much more alarming is his attempts to eliminate Juneteenth and the history of Martin Luther King Jr. from our history class curriculum. As a former member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, I know it’s our collective responsibility to fight to preserve our history and keep Virginia from sliding backwards.

6. What more can Virginia do to prevent mass shootings?

As a member of the public safety committee in the general assembly, in the last two years I have studied hundreds of pieces of proposed legislation that would take steps forward in addressing our public safety crisis. Unfortunately, we have seen just as much legislation from the far-right attempting to undo all the progress on gun safety we have made in the last 3 years.

There were many common sense bills I was proud to support this year from requiring state of the art lock boxes to keep guns if a minor is staying in the house, to basic safety training for all firearm purchases, to an assault weapons ban to keep weapons of warfare off our streets. We have so much we can do, but we need a solution-oriented majority, not a Republican majority that is only interested in allowing more people to carry more guns in more places.

7. Should the state get involved in stemming or encouraging the proliferation of solar farms in rural counties?

As rural communities like Isle of Wight and others across the commonwealth continue to make the best use of existing developed land, solar farms can create local, good-paying jobs, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and help farmers diversify revenue sources, just as the leasing of cell towers has. As delegate, we consider those economic impacts as well as the ecological ones. One example of how state involvement could lead to better outcomes would be to consider how the placement of solar farms in previously developed areas could also restore native plants and increase pollinators, helping to combat the long term effects of agricultural or industrial land use.

8. Should Isle of Wight County have the option of raising its local sales tax by 1% by voter referendum to fund school construction projects? Why or why not?

I believe in fully funding public schools. Schools are a place for children to learn and grow. They also provide benefits for those who aren’t students: foster socialization and citizenship, provide equal access regardless of socioeconomic status or race, offer a range of resources for students and families, including extracurricular activities, social services and counseling, and provide a community gathering place. But politicians in Richmond continue to undervalue these community assets. Years of deferred maintenance, along with a $1 Billion gap in needed funding for commonwealth schools, continue to force localities to shoulder more costs, even as the increased cost of healthcare for school employees and inflation eat into local budgets. I believe that the voters of the 84th district have the choice to try to address the problem locally, even as I continue to fight in Richmond to make sure our public schools are fully funded.

9. What is one issue where you disagree with your political party’s national stance?

The candidate did not respond to this question.

10. How should retail marijuana sales be implemented, or should the 2021 legalization be overturned?

While serving at the General Assembly, several bills were proposed to establish a regulated and legal retail market for marijuana sales. Currently, Virginia allows the sale of medical cannabis, home cultivation, and legal possession for adults, but it lacks a law to govern retail sales. My general stance has been in favor of implementation plans that would permit the retail sale of recreational cannabis products, with certain restrictions comparable to those in place for tobacco and alcohol sales. These restrictions would aim to prevent sales and marketing to minors and would prioritize community safety measures. Furthermore, I believe that any implementation of a retail marketplace for marijuana sales must include measures to address the negative impacts that arrest records and criminal convictions for marijuana-related offenses, which are now legal, have had on individuals.