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James Harder's grandmother was Democratic Del. Joan Munford, who represented the district that included Blacksburg from 1982 to 1993.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
James Harder, the grandson of a longtime Blacksburg Democratic state delegate, announced Thursday that he wants to challenge incumbent Joseph Yost in the 12th House District.
Harder, 30, a doctoral student at Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy, said he was inspired by his grandmother Joan Munford, who represented a House district that included Blacksburg from 1982 until 1993.
“I have a passion for public service which I learned from my grandmother,” Harder said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I want to serve as a delegate to give back to this community and make sure Southwest Virginia has a strong voice in Richmond.”
Harder will seek the Democratic nomination to run in the November election, said his campaign manager, Marshall Cohen.
Steve Cochran, longtime head of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, wrote in an email Thursday that he had heard from only one other person interested in the Democratic nomination for the 12th District seat. Cochran said he was not sure if that person still planned to run.
The 12th District includes Giles County, parts of Montgomery and Pulaski counties, and Radford.
Harder said he has worked for former U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, dealing with communication and constituent service, his announcement said.
Cohen said Harder would try to highlight votes by Yost that he called out of step with the 12th District.
“I will be running a strong campaign that is based on speaking with constituents about their priorities and how I can best serve them,” Harder said in the statement. “I’ll bring my vision to improve education, protect our region’s natural resources, and stimulate the local economy to their front doors.”
Yost, R-Blacksburg, was elected to the seat in 2011. Yost has won praise from the Virginia Education Association and mental health groups during his first term.
Yost declined to comment on Harder’s candidacy, but said he looks forward to continuing to be an advocate for the district’s concerns, especially education.
“It has been a honor and a privilege to represent the 12th District and my home over the past two years,” Yost said. “I have worked hard to provide a strong voice for Southwest Virginia in Richmond and have strived to represent all parts of this district. I am incredibly humbled by the bipartisan support I have received and look forward to continuing to serve my constituents.”
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