The race for one of three seats in the Virginia Senate representing Prince William County just got more crowded.
U.S. Navy veteran Mike Van Meter has announced his campaign to run in the newly configured 33rd Senate District as a Republican in 2023.
All seats in the General Assembly will be available in the 2023 campaign under new districts established by the Virginia Supreme Court.
The 33rd District covers northeastern Prince William County – including Woodbridge, Occoquan and Lake Ridge – and south-central Fairfax County.
It includes an estimated 103,800 voters in Prince William County and 57,900 in Fairfax County, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. The district voted 62.8% Democratic in the 2021 gubernatorial race, according to VPAP.
Van Meter, who has lived in the Burke area since 2008, grew up in Clearwater, Fla. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida and a master’s in human relations from the University of Oklahoma.
After serving eight years in the Navy, Van Meter worked in corrections and the Metropolitan Police Department before joining the FBI in 1999. Van Meter worked for the FBI until his retirement in 2019.
The 56-year-old now hosts two podcasts out of his house while working on his licensure to be a therapist for military and first-responders specializing in addictions and co-occurring disorders.
Van Meter’s first run at elected office was ignited because he is “very, very concerned with the direction of the nation and the state.”
“You can sit and complain about what’s going on or you can take action,” he said.
One of Van Meter’s specialties is around addiction and mental health, which he called the top health issue in the country. He said widespread lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic shut down support groups and exacerbated addiction problems.
“There’s no way you can measure the damage it’s done to people,” he said.
Van Meter also said “the economy is just atrocious,” and the state should cut taxes to help residents.
“The American people are just under such a burden right now,” he said. “Anywhere the state can lift those burdens right now, we need to.”
He said high gas prices are driving up other costs and “crippling our economy.”
Virginia should approve funding to expand training for police officers, Van Meter said, to include some social work that can divert people in crisis from the criminal justice system. He also supports social workers responding in tandem with law enforcement to mental health crises.
On schools, Van Meter said, “Our kids need to be educated, but they do not need to be educated in a particular ideology that is not based in fact and reason.”
Another schools issue that has blossomed in Northern Virginia is around accommodations for transgender students.
“As far as the transgender issue is concerned, you do you,” Van Meter said. “But where I draw the line is now going into different bathrooms. … I am one of those that says absolutely not.”
Van Meter also said students should only be allowed to compete in the sports that correlate to their biological sex at birth.
On gun violence around the ongoing mass shootings in the U.S., Van Meter said solutions should primarily be focused on mental health services and interventions with people who might commit violence.
“What all of these shooters have in common is serious mental health issues,” he said. “It’s the person that commits the crime, not the weapon.”
No other Republicans or third-party candidates have announced campaigns for the seat.