o Provide competitive step increases and raises for teachers
o Commit state funds for the partial construction costs of new buildings
o Increase mental health services to lower the counselor: student ratio to 1: 225
o Invest in vocational training and apprenticeship programs
o Increase state support for public universities to make higher education affordable
o Forgive debt for Virginians who serve the public
ECONOMY & INFRASTRUCTURE
Find sensible solutions to increase I-81 safety
Train Virginians with the skills needed for today’s jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, trades, public safety, and teaching
Support programs that help all Virginians find meaningful employment
PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH
De-stigmatize mental health care and expand treatment facilities
Provide job protections for medical appointments and medical leave
Advocate for single payer healthcare, paid sick leave, copay reductions, and medical cost containment
Advocate for fair wages and benefits.
Fairly compensate public employees
Expand family and parental leave
Require background checks for all gun purchases and a waiting period for handgun purchases
Expand gun violence prevention and gun safety programs
Provide more resources, outreach, and counseling for sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors
Pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
Expand access to Broadband
Support and defend the rights of disenfranchised communities
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Decrease mass incarceration
Expand programs to re-integrate rehabilitated into society
Restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated citizens who have completed their sentences
Expand early voting options
Explore automatic registration and same-day voting registration
Virginia needs to take bold steps to protect our environment, but we need to be careful to create a sustainable work environment as well. A Climate Action Plan would create a system for reeducating individuals who are transitioning from work in the fossil fuel industry, and support the development of private and community-owned renewable energy projects.
Policy-wise, there should be a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects. Utility-scale energy projects and natural gas pipelines would be impacted by this moratorium, but, with a Climate Action Plan in place, the negative consequences would be mitigated.
I support the federal Green New Deal. Until the federal GND is implemented, in order to make the most effective strides in protecting our environment, we need to have clear, direct legislation that moves toward renewable energy sources and pushes for more regulation of energy companies like Dominion. We should avoid commandeering the GND brand and focus on passing environmental legislation and economic developments.
Education provides a transformational path to be better citizens. As an educator, I have the knowledge and passion to address the most pressing concerns in our education system.
Stronger pathways to education can begin in two places: quality pre-K, which should be expanded throughout the Commonwealth, and by appropriately paying our teachers and staff. Teachers and staff deserve salary raises that are more appropriate to our current economic climate. Virginia needs prioritize raises by raising salaries 7% over the next two years, and the state shouldn’t force localities to be the deciding voice on whether a teacher is able to earn a raise.
The state of Virginia can exert a positive influence by expanding the socio-emotional resources we offer to students. The staff positions of counselors, school psychologists, and social workers are stretched too thin. Addressing critical socio-emotional staff shortages is taking a proactive approach to the stressors that schoolchildren experience.
One area of particular interest to me is that the state of Virginia should take on a significant portion of the construction or renovation of new school buildings. In my district, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County could benefit tremendously from the state lessening the burden placed on localities when construction (for Harrisonburg’s second high school) or renovation (two elementary schools in Rockingham County) occur.
I believe that Virginia can benefit from the knowledge and the programming done in District 26. I would like to advocate for more schools in the Commonwealth to follow the Harrisonburg dual-language program model, especially for school districts that have a substantial second language spoken. In addition, the technology integration roll-out done by Rockingham County should serve as a model for how technology can be appropriately used within the classroom. And, I think that technology in rural school districts will help progress a wider conversation of how to efficiently and effectively bring broadband access to rural Virginia. Finally, Harrisonburg’s Mobile Café model should be expanded—in Harrisonburg but also through the Commonwealth. Expanding healthy lunch programs and nutrition resources throughout the calendar year, while also including more free or reduced lunches, is a way to care for our students and to encourage a better school day.
In higher education, I would advocate for re-assessing the funding model used by the state that helps determine tuition. In addition, vocational training and apprenticeships should continue to be increased (perhaps through public-private partnerships with local companies), and there should be a push for innovation of how to lower the tuition price for community colleges and four-year colleges. There also needs to be a distinct path forward for our citizens who are already overburdened from student debt. Currently, a small number of medical professionals and attorneys can work in highly specific areas for at least three years and have a portion of their loans forgiven. This is a positive step but too limited. Virginia needs to expand this debt forgiveness into multiple industries.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Running for office should be accessible to all legal citizens of the U.S. But money has twisted this. Although it will take a lot of work to switch from our current structure, I’m focused on consistently introducing legislation to encourage publicly-funded campaigns.
One area for legislation to focus on is by eliminating “war chests” or rolling over money from election cycle to election cycle. A campaign should have to use all the money donated to them during an election cycle, or donate the remainder to a nonpartisan charity. I also will introduce a bill to control the amount of money that can be raised during an event and, possibly, during the campaign at large. By having a cap at the amount of donations received, this will limit corporate donations and big-money donations. In addition, it will force campaigns to be more financially savvy.