VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The flyer says Kelly Fowler is weak on illegal immigration, supports sanctuary cities and is putting safety at risk. Through Photoshop, it shows her next to MS-13 gang members.
"I think that choice to present me as a criminal gang member is racist," said Fowler, the Democratic incumbent candidate for the 21st District in the House of Delegates. She's partially Latino. "I think they put me in there for a reason. I think my skin color matches [the gang members'] skin color, and they're trying to present me as a threat or a problem."
The mailer is being sent out by her opponent's campaign. Shannon Kane is a Republican and a former Virginia Beach City Council member. "It has nothing to with her ethnicity and everything to do with protecting the citizens of our district," Kane said.
The photo shows MS-13 gang members who are in prison in El Salvador. Kane says, though, the gang is a serious problem here in Virginia. "They are here," she said. "I want to follow the law. I want to protect our citizens, and I want to make sure that we don't make it easy on folks who are coming here illegally."
The flyer references a 2018 vote Fowler took to not support banning sanctuary cities. She says localities in Virginia already can't become sanctuary cities, so the bill in question had no point. "We already don't allow sanctuary cities, so there's no need to create legislation that says additionally we don't allow it," said Fowler.
Kane doesn't understand why Fowler wouldn't support a ban. "I didn't hurt anything," said Kane. "Why not support it? Why not extra security and extra protection for our kids and residents?"
Voters will make their choice in the race on November 5.