Polls open as State Senate District 9 special election begins

Published 6:24 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Yes, the rain is pouring down and Lunenburg County is under a flood watch until much later tonight. But that doesn’t change the fact we have the State Senate District 9 special election today. 

Republicans and Democrats in District 9 will have one final chance to cast their ballot today, to choose the person who will replace Frank Ruff. The field includes Republican Tammy Mulchi and Democrat Tina Wyatt Younger. 

Both women are competing to fill the seat that will be vacant after today, as Ruff is retiring due to his battle with cancer. Ruff collected 92.5% of the vote in November’s election for the redrawn District 9 seat, which now covers Lunenburg, Charlotte, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Pittsylvania counties, along with the city of Danville and most of Prince Edward County, excluding the town of Farmville. 

Now to vote today, you simply go to your regular polling place, which will be open until 7 p.m. And then, just like normal, the votes will be tallied and a winner announced later tonight. Both candidates competed in packed elections to get to this position, with a crowd of challengers competing.

On the Republican side, it all happened at one location. District 9 voters were asked to drive out to the Drakes Branch Fire Department in Charlotte County for a mass meeting. Democrats, meanwhile, held a firehouse primary, choosing seven locations spread out across the district where people could go and cast a ballot. 

District 9 special election candidates 

On the Republican side, the candidate is Tammy Mulchi. Aside from serving on the Clarksville Town Council, the Mecklenburg County native worked previously as both a legislative aide to Sen. Ruff and Del. Tommy Wright. Ruff also endorsed Mulchi’s bid, saying she “understands the issues facing our communities.” Mulchi is also a realtor in Clarksville and has a connection to this region through her daughter, Brittany Barnes, a fourth grade teacher in Blackstone. In the Republican mass meeting, Mulchi took first place in each of the three rounds, before a crowd of 833 voters. She finally beat second place Dale Sturdifen, Congressman Bob Good’s field director, by 50 votes, in a round that saw 500 votes cast.  

After Mulchi and Younger were chosen as candidates, The Dispatch reached out to ask them five questions, the same practice we do in every election. Mulchi responded to our request and answered all five, which you can read here. Younger’s staff, meanwhile, said The Dispatch’s email ended up in the spam folder, the DM (direct message) that was sent was forgotten about and they don’t know why the phone call never reached anyone. As a result, they offered a quote instead of the questions, due to it being the night before the election. You can read about Younger and see her comments below. 

On the Democratic side, the candidate is former South Boston Vice Mayor Tina Wyatt Younger. Younger picked up the win in the party’s firehouse primary, collecting 89 total votes. Current Danville Vice Mayor Gary P. Miller came in second with 82 votes, while Trudy Berry, the former legal services specialist with the U.S. Air Force who ran against Ruff in this past November’s election, received 39 votes. 

“In the upcoming Special Election for Senate District 9, our choices will shape the heart of Southside Virginia. Everything is at stake,” Younger said. “Southside deserves someone who listens and fights for solutions. I am committed to being that person. As a dedicated community leader, my platform focuses on safeguarding women’s health, championing voter rights, and tirelessly advocating for equitable educational opportunities for every child. I believe in unwavering dedication and principled representation for the people of VA State Senate District 9. Together, let’s create positive change and a better future.”

So who is Tina Wyatt Younger? She is a former South Boston Town Council member, having served from 2012-2020. During her time on council, she served as a representative to the Virginia Municipal League, helped develop concepts for a Small Business Emergency Loan Program during the pandemic and served as a community volunteer for both the Halifax High Marching Band Boosters and the Prizery Community Arts Center Foundation, along with others.