We’re making election information more accessible. Learn more

About

Toshy Penton

Background

My name is Toshy Penton. I have a background in digital marketing and a passion for politics.

When my family moved to Virginia in 1995, we rented a house in Charlottesville. After attending Virginia Tech, where I majored in environmental policy and planning, I returned home to Charlottesville and fell into digital marketing.

I started my own business in 2016, a turning point year for politics across the country and for us here in Charlottesville. The more time I spent building a life for myself and (now) small family, the more important it was for me to know about and participate in our local community, including its elections and leadership. Especially after buying my first home and then the chaos and tragedies of 2020, I knew I needed to find my place within this passionately engaged community.

Why I started this project

When I vote, I want to be armed with information. Leading up to the 2022 U.S. House election, I knew little about the candidates, so I started my research where I always start: Google.

I searched for candidates and I searched for elections (e.g., “2022 us house elections”). I found candidate websites and a handful of 3rd-party websites, but I wanted more information and I wanted more context. What district am I in? How much do these people get paid? Does the district lean Democrat or Republican?

How I got involved

Since that 2022 congressional election, my initial curiosity has transformed into an obsession. Despite the obvious finding that elected officials (at all levels of government) wield significant influence, money, and power, their information is scattered across numerous difficult-to-navigate sources. It’s no wonder we pay more attention to national politics — the media landscape is vast and well-funded.

For local and state politics, however, if you’re not “plugged in,” where do you start? Understanding Virginia’s political landscape requires a familiarity with our state’s government, its laws, and its politicians, each of which receive little media attention.

I want to shine a spotlight on under-covered elections. I want to help Virginians feel confident in their vote. And I want to help people like me, who feel like they have no voice or political power.