I will work to protect Virginia’s air, water, and open spaces. While development is essential for growth, every plot of land developed is a plot of forest or farm that is lost. Virginia lost over 112,000 acres of land to development between 2007 and 2012. Preserving the land will help us meet important goals for water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation, and overall quality of life. Environmental protection is one of the core functions of government. Pollution by one business or individual infringes on the rights of all of Virginia’s businesses and individuals.
I support protecting and restoring Virginia’s waterways. Our rivers and streams across the state not only provide us with clean drinking water, but they are an integral part of our economy and provide Virginians places to boat, fish and swim.
I believe we need to keep our beaches and other waterways safe from sewage overflows and runoff pollution with new stormwater standards and adequate funding for green infrastructure. I am committed to ensuring Virginia reaches its Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan goals by ensuring appropriate funding for agricultural best management practices and Stormwater Local Assistance Funds. I believe the General Assembly has an obligation to close loopholes that exempt fracking from laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. We can’t afford to put the interests of businesses above the health of our citizens.
Since the current administration in Washington refuses to address the impacts of climate change, the Virginia General Assembly needs to step up to ensure the future of our natural resources. From severe storms, Code Red Air Quality Days, and rising sea levels in Hampton Roads, Virginia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Virginia needs to reduce CO2 pollution from power plants by promoting energy efficiency and clean energy like wind and solar. We need to promote renewable energy in Virginia. We need legislation that unlocks Virginia’s solar potential by making it easier for citizens and communities to make their own investments in solar and make them cost-effective. We need legislation that encourages renewable energy projects that allow Virginian’s to buy into a central community array and get credit for the solar their investment produces.
Our teachers are our greatest resource for preparing the next generation to be successful in their endeavors and contribute to society. I will work to ensure our teachers have competitive salaries so we can attract and retain skilled educators. Virginia also needs to address the counselor to student ratio and increase the number of counselors in our schools because they are the first step in addressing mental health and behavior issues in the community. They are an integral part of a safe school environment.
I will work with others in the General Assembly to find ways to make sure there are higher education options accessible and affordable for students that wish to pursue a degree past high school, including technical school and community college.
Virginia needs to address the achievement gap between lower income students and their higher income peers and between white students and students of color. This achievement gap is due in part to the underlying opportunity gap. Better opportunities will lead to better achievement. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that works to provide all students access to challenging and supported opportunities to learn. The General Assembly should support the use of a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs, support teachers as professionals, help create and maintain a healthy school culture, and sustain equitable and meaningful parent and community engagement. Addressing the opportunity gap through a holistic approach will lead to reducing the achievement gap.
Virginia also needs to address the school to prison pipeline. I believe it is important for our schools to be a place where our children can learn and make childhood mistakes without ending up at the police station. Virginia needs more alternatives to exclusionary discipline, but we also need to do a better job of funding these types of programs. Legislation is only half of the solution, without funding the programs the General Assembly is legislating the problem will still be there. In addition to alternatives for current school discipline, we need to be preventative as well with after school programs, sufficient staffing, and funding to ensure teachers are trained on how to deal with issues before they become a disciplinary problem. We need to address the issue that students with disabilities and African American students are disproportionately affected. A single suspension makes it less likely that a student will graduate from high school, and being referred to the court system makes it even less likely. We need to keep kids in the classroom and out of the courtroom.
I will work for equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. All people are created equal, and no Virginian should be treated like a second class citizen by the laws of our Commonwealth. The United States has come a long way in the pursuit of equality but there is still work to be done to ensure that we are protecting the civil liberties all Virginians.
If elected I will work to: