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Solutions for Virginia Families
I am running to represent the people of the 7th Senate District of Virginia.
These are some of the issues I am committed to working on to make the lives of all Virginians better.
Growing an Economy for All of Us
Consumers, the people who actually spend money, are the real drivers of our economy. Yet Virginia is 1 of 16 states still stuck at the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Too many of our friends and neighbors are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Virginia must increase our minimum wage, and other wages proportionally, so that people working a full-time job do not feel like they are earning part-time wages.
I believe that all workers should earn paid sick leave and vacation time. No worker should have to go to work sick because they cannot afford to take a day off to recover from an illness or surgery. And every person deserves to have a break from their job to refresh themselves, without wondering if they will be able to pay rent or have food on the table.
Affordable housing must be made a priority. Cities and counties must work with developers to build homes priced for average people. And people deserve to have a decent place to come home to after working their jobs.
Transportation and Congestion
Traffic in and out of South Hampton Roads has been problematic and discussed, without results, by everyone running for office for too long. Everyone in and outside of Hampton Roads knows how difficult commuting or just going to the grocery store can be. We must invest in repairing and improving our roads.
We also must realize that we cannot pave our way out of the traffic congestion problems in our region. Developing reliable and affordable public transportation will reduce the traffic burden on our roads and highways. Affordable high-speed rail options must be a component for travel in and out of our region.
Improving Education in Every Zip Code
Educators touch every person’s life. We learn how to read, write, and do arithmetic in our schools. Yet, Virginia ranks 34th, nationally, in teacher pay. One in five teachers have a second job to make ends meet. This data comes from a January 30, 2019 delmarva.com article. The 5 percent raise approved in 2019 legislation will still leave educators about 10 percent below the national average. Too often teacher pay raises have been eaten away by rising health benefits costs. We ask these people to educate and look after our children but don’t give them the pay or resources to do so.
What are we doing for the rest of the staff at our schools? What about pay raises for teacher assistants, custodians, food service workers, school bus drivers, and crossing guards? We must look at all members of our education staff to keep good people from exiting our schools.
We must free our educators and allow them to teach subjects instead of Standards of Learning tests. Children need to learn to think, not regurgitate facts. Music, art, and extracurricular activities must be part of the learning experience.
Why do we have problems with discipline in schools? Part of the problem can be resolved by lowering class sizes. Yes, that means hiring more teachers. But it also means providing a better learning experience for our children with better teacher-student interaction.
Saving Our Environment
The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure and supports the livelihoods of many citizens. We must provide funding to protect our oyster and fish populations. Tourism can still be a viable economic driver if we protect our waterways from pollution.
Legislation was introduced and defeated in 2019 to protect our bee population. Bees are important to our very survival. They are the pollinators of the plants that provide us with the vegetation for our food and protection from flooding. Affordable natural compounds must replace the chemicals we use on our farms.
Public transportation must turn to natural gas and electric vehicles for environmental protection. Charging stations are needed statewide to encourage use of hybrid and electric vehicles. Please see my statements on transportation for more environmental information.
Fighting for Criminal Justice Reform
Virginia’s criminal justice system is not being dispensed equitably. It should not matter what your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or income bracket is. Everyone in Virginia has the right to and deserves equality and dignity from our justice system.
Our law enforcement and justice system personnel need to evolve to reflect the population they serve. Law enforcement and justice system personnel need to live in the communities they serve. And we should have incentives to accomplish that. Having personal relationships with the community has been proven to reduce crime and improve neighborhoods.
Education and community involvement are the positive ways to combat the school-to-prison pipeline and restore trust in the criminal justice system within communities of color. Law enforcement training must evolve and include how to administer justice fairly. Again, everyone has the right to be treated equitably and with dignity.
Protecting Medicaid Expansion and Healthcare
In 2018 we were able to secure healthcare for 300,000 Virginians by passing Medicaid Expansion. We must ensure that everyone who now has that access to good healthcare can keep it.
Women in Virginia deserve the right to access safe and reliable medical services. We cannot allow clinics to be closed or regulated out of business because of misinformation about their services. And the truth about medical services provided to men at those clinics must be stated.
Helping Our Communities Combat Flooding and Climate Change
Norfolk and Virginia Beach are number 9 on the national list of cities that are could disappear as climate change raises our water level. During the 2019 legislative session, $50 million that would have gone to flood mitigation, for just the city of Virginia Beach, was removed from the budget with a party-line vote. The money was requested by the Virginia Beach City Council and was desperately needed in our community. Partisan politics overruled citizen needs.
There are still many families who have not been made whole from their flooding losses during Tropical Storm Matthew. That is simply unacceptable. We need legislators in Richmond who will listen to those citizens and coordinate with our federal legislation counterparts.
We must take the threat of climate change seriously. Work to reduce its effects is not being undertaken. That work includes investing in flood mitigation, green and sustainable
buildings, and an investment in renewable energy sources, including wind turbines and solar panels. We must make solar panels for private homes an affordable option for all citizens.