Hitting the Ground Running

Rockbridge County native Jade Harris ’20 brings a lifelong education in politics to her Virginia Senate seat race.

Jade Harris

Ever since she was a young child, Jade Harris ’20 would accompany her mother to the polling station to vote whenever there was an election. But it was more than just a trip out with mom — it was an education, too, because Harris’ mother would explain the electoral process to her. 

“I remember the 2004 presidential election really stood out to me, because we went to vote together,” Harris said. “With the 2008 election, I remember asking about the Electoral College in class — but people weren’t spending a lot of time trying to explain the Electoral College to fifth graders.”

Today, Harris is running as a progressive for a state Senate seat in Virginia’s 3rd senate district. 

“I’ve always wanted to serve my community the best way I knew how, so I started at the local level,” Harris said. “I was a member of the communications committee on my local town council, and then as I got older, I decided I wanted to run for local office.”

“I’ve always wanted to serve my community the best way I knew how, so I started at the local level.”

Harris served her hometown of Glasgow’s town council for two years before becoming the town’s first ever vice mayor. After that, she wanted to go even further in the political process, with an unsuccessful run for a House of Delegates seat.

In addition to the early extracurricular education she got from her mother, MBU was also important for Harris’ political aspirations.

“My political science degree specifically helped me a lot because it allowed me to have that deep dive into Virginia politics and get that background knowledge that’s necessary before you even go into it,” Harris said. 

While it can be daunting to be put under the public microscope when running a campaign, Harris finds the most challenging thing about it is doing it as someone from a working class background.

“I technically have two day jobs,” Harris said, “I work full time as a manager at The Split Banana in Staunton, and I’m also a substitute teacher in the Rockbridge County Schools.”

And while other candidates have a staff to handle the administrative burden of running a campaign, Harris does everything herself. She writes every social media post, coordinates her own organizing and events, and writes her own speeches.

“It puts me in more contact with people,” Harris said, “hearing the issues directly from the people, and knowing some of their backstory and how that influences their thoughts and feelings on politics.”