William M. “Bill” Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin County) is headed back to Richmond to represent the 20th District of the state Senate.

“I’m humbled by the trust the voters have placed in me,” Stanley said Tuesday night. “It will be a challenging four years ahead in Richmond, but we’ll keep pushing forward.”

Stanley won a fifth term by pummeling newcomer Sherman D. Witcher Sr. of Rocky Mount, 70% to 29%.

Witcher had wanted to run as a Democrat but was shunned by the Democratic Party. He had less than $2,000 and no staff to mount an independent campaign.

Stanley, who has served since 2011, had more than $500,000 to spend on his campaign.

“I take every race seriously,” Stanley said. “I appreciate Sherman for having the courage to step forward and run. That’s what it’s all about.”

State Senate District 20 includes all of Martinsville, Galax, Henry County and Patrick County and parts of Carroll, Franklin, Halifax and Pittsylvania counties and Danville.

Stanley ran his race on the common themes of economic rebirth that the region has seen.

“We have to have the Commonwealth of Virginia focus on our infrastructure and that is to make a commitment to the construction of the highway grade southern connector because that’s going to help us attract employers to the area who need to get goods to market and we need to connect ourselves to the North Carolina economy for that purpose,” Stanley said before the election.

“I think workforce training is always a priority – that we’re creating a workforce pipeline that’s not only going to help our students in our public schools in Henry County and Martinsville and Danville and Pittsylvania County and the rest of the district, to be able to acquire a skill for the 21st century workforce that is not only making them job ready, but will also pay them an excellent salary and benefits.

There was much common ground between Watcher’s priorities and Stanley’s campaign platforms.

“Foremost is the availability of jobs, fair jobs, wages so people can survive,” Witcher said. “A lot of situations boil down to income, housing, healthcare, education, but the front-runner is jobs, so people don’t have to work two or three jobs and the employers have what they need.

Said Stanley: “We need to improve rural health care. We need to solve the problem with the Patrick County Hospital [currently closed]. We need to expand telemedicine in our region so that more people have more access to quality doctors outside of the area.

Neither candidate saw much of Martinsville or Henry County during the campaign trail, but Stanley says he considers this area home.

“My family, ancestrally, is from this area,” he said. “The first case I ever tried as a lawyer was in the Henry County General District Court. So, it’s important to me, as a state senator, to go back to Richmond and be a loud booming voice for the needs of our area.”

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