On the Issues:
As a teacher early in my career, I know how important and challenging the job of an educator can be.
Increased School Resources: Virginia schools are full of students whose success in education is absolutely essential for them and their families to build a future. We owe it to them, as much as the people who do the critical work of educating them, to make sure that they and their educators have the resources and support they need.
Higher Teacher Salaries: Virginia needs to attract great teachers; our community should have a reputation as a desirable place to live and work as an educator. That starts with increasing teacher pay.
Increased Support Personnel: High quality education goes beyond teachers. We need to ensure that there are enough support staff, such as school counselors, to support and guide students, and that they, too, are fairly paid.
Broader Disciplinary Options: We need to give educators more options to address student discipline; too often, educators have no choice but suspension and other punitive measures that simply trap students in a cycle of punishment that is often the first step in the school-to-prison pipeline.
Pass the Equal Rights Amendment: A vote on the Equal Rights Amendment is long overdue. The people of Virginia deserve to have their voice heard: we need to vote on, and pass, the ERA.
Right to Choose: The only person who should be able to make choices for a woman about her health and life is the woman herself. The distracting tactics of the anti-choice movement cannot be allowed to work – at heart, this is a simple question: should women be able to make their own choices? When faced with this question, the General Assembly must always answer ‘yes’, and support a woman’s right to choose wherever it is threatened.
Northern Virginia needs to be able to continue to make the best possible case to families and businesses that they should move here, and our traffic threatens that. The question for Virginia is not whether we can afford to fix NoVA’s traffic problem, it’s whether we can afford not to.
Reduced Tolls: Northern Virginia’s traffic system is badly broken. We all spend way too much of our time going nowhere, and that will get worse if we accept the status quo. We need legislative action on traffic now and reduce the burden of tolls hikes on working families.
There’s no rule that says traffic has to be this bad, or that we can only make small improvements on the margins, but for too long the legislature in Richmond has acted as though that’s the case.
The Commonwealth’s natural landscape - inland and coastal - is both a source of enjoyment for generations of Virginians, and a critical part of our economy. We need to fully fund conservation programs that protect our land from harmful development and our and rivers from pollutants such as coal ash, as well as stronger regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment overall.
Recognize Climate Change: There can be no doubt that climate change represents a grave threat to the safety and security of the people of Virginia. In the short term, its disruptive effects are already being felt - from rising coastal waters, to unstable weather patterns that flood our homes and roads.
Green Energy Investment: The legislature must invest in green energy, especially by using incentives to encourage distributed solar, and create a state fund to help local communities become more energy efficient.
Strengthen the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice: Environmental hazards disproportionally affect marginalized communities. The General Assembly can and should fix regulations to make clean, renewable energy - especially solar power - an absolute guarantee, not just an option, to ensure that all Virginians are able to live in the same clean, beautiful Commonwealth.
Health and wellness should be central to every decision the legislature considers. Traffic, housing, and public safety - among other issues - all have a profound effect on the health of the people of Virginia. We need representatives who understand that almost every policy affects the health of the community, and make their decisions accordingly.
Increased Access to Nurse Practitioners: The Legislature can make it easier for nurses practitioners to serve patients directly, increasing Virginians’ access to high-quality, cost-effective care throughout the Commonwealth.
Our system of immigration laws is broken. It does not provide a clear path for immigrants to live, work, and raise families in the United States, whether they came here seeking protection from violence or disaster, or searching for opportunity.
This broken system keeps many immigrants in a legal limbo, forcing them to spend years navigating an arduous and frequently arbitrary system, during which they are constantly at risk of having their lives disrupted by arrest or deportation without warning or process. This system is ineffective at best, cruel at worst, and, because of its lack of fairness and accountability, fundamentally unAmerican.
The Commonwealth of Virginia can take steps to help give immigrant families a chance to have their stories heard and to live and work while they navigate the broken federal system. Those include issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants; engaging in oversight to help prevent people from suffering when the system breaks down or is abused; and ensuring that immigrant families have access to the same educational opportunities we extend to all of our children in the Commonwealth.
Homeownership for Working Class Families: For Northern Virginia to continue to attract both families and businesses, it needs a stable housing market where homeownership is a viable goal for working people.
Support for a Commonwealth-Wide Living Wage: Income equality is a critical part of an effective housing strategy; when working people are not fairly paid, no housing is affordable. Fixing this starts with Virginia instituting a competitive, commonwealth-wide living wage.
Our criminal justice system has areas where it is badly broken. Too often, the system appears designed so that once a person enters it, they can never get out. This benefits no one – not our communities, many of which are hollowed out by high rates of incarceration; not law enforcement, whose resources are strained by a system that requires them to repeatedly arrest people for the same offenses; and certainly not the people stuck in the system.
We need a more flexible approach to criminal justice, one that does not rely on overcriminalization of minor offenses and systems of punitive probation that prevent offenders from successfully reintegrating with society.
Ending Private Prison Use: We need to begin the transition away from private prisons and back to public correctional facilities. The relationship between privatization of corrections and over-policing, especially of marginalized communities, is clear, and it is past time it came to an end.
Investigations into the NRA: For too long, the terms of the debate on gun control have been set by the National Rifle Association, an organization increasingly out of step with a majority of the millions of responsible gun owners across this country. The NRA, and the gun manufacturers that back it, thrive on saturating communities with weapons designed only to kill people, and have used their resources to hold back research and legislation designed to save lives. The General Assembly should undertake an investigation into the extent of the damage the NRA has done to the health of our communities in Virginia, and hold this extreme organization to account.
Mandatory Waiting Periods for Firearms Licenses: It should not be easier in Virginia to purchase and keep a gun than it is to get and maintain a driver’s license. The Commonwealth needs robust mandatory waiting periods and regular check-ins to maintain a firearms license.
Controls on 3-D Printing of Firearms: The relatively new technology of 3-D printing comes with many benefits, but also with some potential dangers. The General Assembly should act quickly to ensure that 3-D printed guns are heavily controlled or outright illegal, because untraceable weapons that circumvent regulations and licensing serve no legitimate purpose.