This election year is of paramount importance to Hampton Roads.
All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for election in the commonwealth - an occurrence that happens only once every four years. Tuesday, Nov. 3, Virginians have the opportunity to make a dramatic impact by choosing influential leaders to take us in the direction they desire.
For us in Hampton Roads, this is a rare opportunity that is not to be missed. Of those 140 seats, 29 of them - 21 percent - call Hampton Roads home. Our districts cover a wide range of ages, races, educational, economic and financial backgrounds.
We are truly the "melting pot" of the commonwealth with a huge impact on its overall economy.
Now more than ever, it is critically important for each of us to point the compass toward our future and its economic prosperity. To help, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is here to guide and provide the stars to steer by.
At the chamber, we are all business, all the time. It is our mission. One of the ways we do this is by dedicating ourselves to educating and collaborating with our elected officials and candidates on the most critical issues to improve the quality of life and set the conditions for businesses to succeed in Hampton Roads.
To achieve this, the chamber builds relevant, lasting relationships with our governmental leaders on the local, state and national levels while representing the business interests throughout Southeastern Virginia.
Working closely on issues such as regionalism, economic and workforce development, infrastructure, military and veteran's affairs, education, and health care, elected leaders know we have our compass pointed directly toward a pro-business environment. As such, they seek us out as a valued and vital resource, helping them become more knowledgeable in what their constituents are saying. We host frequent cross-dialogue opportunities with them to learn, share and grow. Often, our boards of directors meet with them to provide our members' perspective on these important issues and listen as they share their personal insights from Richmond and Washington.
To help individuals make an informed voting decision, our Government Affairs Team, in partnership with the Hampton Roads Business Political Action Committee and Virginia Free (www.vafree.org), conducts in-depth bipartisan reviews of all candidates, their voting record and interviews in order to support and endorse innovative, pro-business candidates.
The chamber also shares the most up-to-date information by hosting significant and timely events where members hear directly from elected officials and candidates. We purposefully organize and host opportunities such as our U.S. Senate and U.S. congressional forums, state legislative receptions, candidate debates, state of the city addresses with each of our mayors, state of the region presentations, and many issue-specific events on meaningful topics such as transportation, energy, the military and education.
Unfortunately, all of these efforts the chamber does to keep voters informed are at risk of being wasted. Statistics show that in 2014, of the 5,281,011 people registered to vote in the commonwealth, only 2,194,346 voted. This turnout is 41.6 percentage of the total registered and a small percentage of our total population. This disturbing fact becomes even more dangerous to our future and our opportunities for growth and economic prosperity given this rare voting opportunity next month.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce urges you to become an "informed voter" in 2015. Read, attend forums and review information on all the candidates, certainly those in your district. Engage in healthy, educated debates within your community. We must all do our part to reverse the national trends of low voter turnout and elect the very best our commonwealth has to offer. Our future depends on it.
Be a game changer. Point the compass toward a bright future in Virginia. Vote Nov. 3.