I want to make the 6th District the best place to live and do business. It must be safe, fair, and inclusive. To accomplish this, we need to be less partisan and more pragmatic. Less polarized and more unified. Less contentious and more cooperative. That’s the way Ralph Northam led as our Senator, and it’s the approach I, too, will follow when elected.
Healthcare for women
Virginia legislators must trust in women to make their own health decisions. I will carry on Dr. Northam’s legacy as an unwavering advocate for women’s healthcare. Decisions regarding a woman’s right to choose, access to reproductive healthcare and birth control are personal and should not be determined by the General Assembly. Instead, they need to be made solely between a woman and her healthcare professional.
A World-Class Education System
I received a great education from great teachers at Virginia Beach’s Green Run High School, the summer residential Governor’s School for Math & Science at Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia. To ensure our children have the same opportunity, we need to recruit and retain the best teachers, which starts with providing them with salaries that are reflective of the national average and making sure they have access to the best technology and training. Additionally, the recently enacted A-F grading system does not address the underlying problems facing public education. Instead, it reflects the poverty of the environment in which the students live, not the teaching ability of the faculty. I will work to repeal the current legislation and collaborate with our teachers to create a fair and balanced system that will improve educational outcomes in our struggling schools. We must also ensure all our children are given access to universal pre-K education, which provides significant dividends to our students’ futures.
Equality for the LGBT community
All Virginians deserve the right to marry, adopt a child, make medical care decisions for their loved ones, and to be free from workplace discrimination. As Virginia grows more diverse, we must adopt legislation that is more inclusive. The federal government is leading the way in recognizing same sex marriage, and Virginia must follow suit. I proudly support equality in Virginia because it shows the Commonwealth is a welcoming, forward-thinking state for new businesses and the growing workforce of the future.
Arts and Culture
Support for the arts in Virginia should no longer be viewed as simply “nice to have,” rather as an economic driver for the Commonwealth. As a member of the Norfolk Commission for Arts & Humanities, and a longtime supporter of several arts organizations, I am personally aware of the many benefits provided by arts and cultural investment. The economic advantage is real: the Virginia Arts Festival had a total statewide impact of more than $17 million from its 2012 season. It is time to reinvest in this critical component that enhances our quality of life, which in turn stops “brain drain” and attracts employers and tourists to Coastal Virginia.
Creation of Business Opportunities and New Jobs
We must focus on maintaining Virginia as a truly business-friendly state by continuing to support a fair and measured regulatory environment and a well-educated work force. As the former Chair of Virginia’s Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Governor Mark Warner, and as an entrepreneur, I personally experienced the challenges of developing a small business. In order to facilitate the creation and expansion of small businesses in the Commonwealth, I will strengthen technology transfer programs with our military, government, and institutes of higher learning. I will also focus on job training and workforce development through enhanced vocational education.
Recurrent Coastal Flooding
The common element of the large geography of the 6th District is that it is coastal in nature. While proximity to water is one of the keys to making Coastal Virginia a desirable place to live and an economic driver for tourism and shipping, it has also increased our risk for destruction of property and led to skyrocketing insurance rates because our region is experiencing flooding at unprecedented levels. With this increased flooding, the economy of the entire Commonwealth is vulnerable if the Port of Virginia shuts down due to flooded, inaccessible roadways. Our national security is in jeopardy when our military cannot access the largest naval station in the world. I will work to affect statewide efforts in the General Assembly to define risk, determine opportunities for mitigation, and coordinate efforts to tap into dollars available from the federal government in order to address this growing and costly issue of recurrent flooding.
Improved Transportation Infrastructure
I support light rail expansion and continued research into strategies for a more efficient transportation system in Hampton Roads. That said, maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure needs to be done in a pragmatic way. When public-private partnerships are selected, these deals need to be transparent and include input from legislators to provide their citizens a representative voice in the process.
Gun Violence in Our Community
Recent tragedies highlight the need for stronger legislation to prevent gun violence. While I am a gun owner and a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, my first role is as a mother and the safety of our children is my number one priority. I believe we need to get high capacity assault weapons off our streets to keep our kids safe in our schools and our citizens safe in our communities. I strongly support universal background checks to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals or those struggling with their mental health.
As the former board chair of The Up Center, I am very proud of the success our job training program, Up Center Books, has had in turning the lives around of previously incarcerated individuals. Vocational training is proven to help break the cycle of poverty and allows individuals to re-enter our community as employees, tax payers, and home owners. I will work to continue to identify job training and re-entry opportunities for those coming out of the penal system.
Our Military Service Members and Veterans
I am proud that my stepfather served our U.S. Navy for 20 years, retiring as a Master Chief. His service and that of this region’s many current sailors, soldiers, and military families make our region stronger. We have an obligation to honor and help our veterans through the continued funding of the Virginia Values Veterans program created in 2013, which assists Virginia businesses in recruiting, training, and hiring our veterans. Additionally, I believe we owe it to those veterans to provide housing and mental health counseling in times of crisis.
Fair and Open Voting
Virginia must provide a fair and open environment where every Virginian of voting age can cast their ballot. Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting need to be adopted in Virginia to minimize long lines on election day. Also, Voter ID laws must ensure that all Virginians can easily comply with the requirements. I will strongly support legislation to construct a non-partisan redistricting commission to create districts that are more reflective of our natural geographic boundaries.