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Couple Casts Their First Ballot After Becoming U.S. Citizens

Riakatalau Couple
Sammy and Shree Naidoo Riakatalau have lived in Chesterfield County for over 14 years. They recently became U.S. Citizens and cast their first ballot ever in Tuesday's Democratic Primary. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

Sammy Riakatalou couldn’t quite find the words to express how he was feeling after casting his first ballot.

"It's very special. I don't know what the word is to express this," said Sammy Riakatalau. "You know, after going through this long process,  it's definitely a great feeling to being free. Everybody talks about freedom and all that. This definitely feel that.”

Sammy is originally from the Fiji Islands, while his wife Shree Naidoo, was born in South Africa, but grew up in Canada. The couple , who have two young children, both said racial equality is an important issues facing the country right now.  

"There's so many people with different backgrounds that live here. It has to be an equal playing ground and it's not always," said Shree Riakatalau.

Both also added that climate change issues needs to be addressed. Shree Riakatalau said her husbands parents live in the South Pacific Islands and that they can tell the oceans are rising. 

"It's a huge problem. We should've done something a long time ago."  

When it came time to vote, Sammy went for Joe Biden because of the former Vice President’s experience, while Shree voted for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“It's not just because she's a woman, but it's also just, you know, just the values that she stands for. I think she kind of fights for everybody.”

Both say they’ll support whichever candidate becomes the Democratic nominee. 


Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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