Democratic Candidate: US House - Virginia 1st District
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P.O. Box 452, Irvington, VA 22480
From Candidate’s Site
Lavangelene (Vangie) Aereka Williams – a long-time resident of King George, Va. – is a strategic planner, mother and professional problem solver. A self-made woman who has overcome insurmountable odds, Vangie is a public servant that solves problems for our federal government.
A real-world professional with 30 years of experience, Vangie is not a career politician that will put corporate interests above people. She currently works full time for a major government contractor as a Strategic Planner/Senior Project Control Principal where she strengthens national security, manages critical infrastructure projects and ensures the services we rely on every day run smoothly. She knows the federal government and can hit the ground running when in Congress.
Vangie’s young life and experiences helped fine tune her natural determination and ability to solve problems. Due to the effects of addiction in the family, Vangie found herself homeless several times as a teenager. At age 15, young Vangie was hit by a car and shattered her pelvis. Immediately after being released by the doctor, she applied for her first job and was hired at Chuck E Cheese.
Never one to shy away from hard work, young Vangie often held several jobs at once to get ahead, even working as a club bouncer at one point. In spite of the challenges she faced as a teenager, she never gave up, never settled for less and, as a result, rose above and excelled.
It’s why she wants the hardworking people in the 1st District to have an economy that works for them and for families to have access to world-class healthcare. If we want government to be good again we have to build a movement that demands representation for the people, not large corporations.
Vangie is a proven leader with a work ethic that is recognized throughout her professional networks, community and volunteer efforts. Her career in high-level project management includes working in aerospace, construction, defense contracting, government operations, IT and national security. Career highlights include:
- creating the TSA program and hiring nearly 70,000 airport security screeners after 9/11;
- being tapped to get the space flight program on track after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; and
- projects such as One-Net, Hubble Space Telescope, Washington Convention Center and Camden Yards.
Her thirst for knowledge has led to four degrees, each obtained while working full time as a mother and professional:
- A.A.S. in Construction Management (Montgomery College)
- B.B.A. in Federal Acquisitions and Contract Management (Strayer University)
- B.S. in History (Ashford University)
- M.B.A in Project Management (Ashford University)
- D.BA in Project Management (Walden University). To be completed in 2018
She is an active champion for the working class and her commitment to service is demonstrated through her work as a member of several organizations such as the League of Women Voters, NOW, LBGTQ Democrats, Sierra Club, NAACP and ACLU.
With family roots reaching back more than 300 years in Virginia, Vangie knows the 1st Congressional District of Virginia. It is her home and where she and her husband have chosen to raise their children.
Vangie and Glenn, her husband of 25 years who is a small business owner and professional bowler, have six daughters spanning in age from 11 to 23. Both work to make sure their daughters have the love, nurture, support and education necessary to develop into young women of character and distinction.
As a mother, she understands all too well the challenges families face every day. From getting kids to sports practice and making sure dinner is on the table, Vangie knows what it’s like for working parents to make decisions that will secure their children’s success.
Patsy Mink fought and won the battle for reparations for Japanese-Americans who were unjustly detained in internment camps during WWII. Shirley Chisholm demanded colorblind equality, famously saying, “if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Barbara Jordan’s speech as a member of the House Judiciary Committee regarding Watergate reminded Americans that our Founding Fathers were infinitely wise in their constitutional design. Yvonne Burke was tireless in her pursuit of equal opportunity for women and minorities. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has devoted much of her career to the pursuit of justice for the Cuban people.
Each of the women on this page was a “first” of one kind or another. Even now, the Commonwealth of Virginia has one more political “first” barrier to cross. An African American woman has never served in Congress from Virginia. When elected, I will end that 230-year streak.
I must admit that breaking this barrier holds a certain appeal to me. However, more important to me is ending the 10-year run of do-nothing congressional representation that has plagued the 1st District. These women were great because they fought and advocated for their constituents and the American people. I will advocate and fight for the people of the 1st District.
I do not for one minute think that I compare to the greatness of these women. I can only hope to stand at the head of the trail they have blazed to carry on their legacies.
From Candidate’s website
Women’s rights are more than a list of single-issue talking points. I care about woman empowerment at every level, not just focusing on the bullet points. Empowering women economically, socially and politically improves the lives of all Americans, including the women. This win-win is the type of vision I will take to Congress.
Women make up nearly half of the country’s workforce, and are often the sole provider in the family, but are discriminated based on gender and penalized for having children. Women earn less than men, and moms earn even less than dads and women without children. Fighting for policies that expands access and opportunities for women will improve economic and social outcomes.
As a mother of six daughters and a working parent, I firmly believe women should be given every opportunity to be successful in life. This includes succeeding in the workplace, having the choice to start a family, earning a fair and equal wage, living free from violence having access to adequate healthcare. When women have the power to make decisions and have control over their lives, they can plan their economic futures.
Simply put, I support:
- Family choice, a woman’s right to choose and full rights to reproductive freedom, including access to affordable contraception
- Paid family leave and job protection
- Protecting women from workplace discrimination – regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation
- Equal pay for equal work
- Educational and employment opportunities, especially in the STEM fields
- Federal funding for programs that support women’s health
I’m not about checking off boxes to make sure I get all my bullet points. I care about making sure that women have the same opportunities as men to pursue the American Dream. By making sure women have equal economic opportunities, we solve many of the problems faced by women.
It’s utterly appalling to me that in 2018 we’re still talking about Civil Rights. But, as a woman of color I know it’s absolutely necessary. For decades, I have often been the only woman in the boardroom, and certainly the only woman of color. As recently as 2008 I was called “little girl” in a meeting by a sitting U.S. Senator. Imagine his surprise when he found out I was the project manager for the Department of Defense!
Whether it is LGBTQ rights, civil rights, voting rights, gender equality or religious freedom, the idea that at this point in our nation’s history we are fighting for the equality of ANY group is unfathomable to me. It’s time to once-and-for-all take out the legislative sledge hammer and chisel the concept of equality into the ultimate guiding document of our nation: the United States Constitution.
I support a new “Universal Equal Rights Amendment” that would make clear that any distinction that can be used to divide us can no longer be valid for the purposes of treatment different than others around us. We have nickel and dimed this issue long enough. It’s time to codify the concept of absolute equality in the constitutional soul of our nation.
Defense & Security
Our veterans, enlisted military families, security officers and teachers keep us safe and free, educate our children and do the jobs that make our everyday lives possible. But many of these people are underpaid, overworked and living in poverty.
In the 1st District, we have three major military installations at Quantico, Dahlgren and Fort A.P. Hill and one-third of military families receive food assistance to feed their families. Veteran poverty is steadily rising, and we have a shortage of first responders and teachers that is hurting public safety and our education system.
That’s why I’m proposing the Income Now for Veterans, Enlisted military families, Safety officers and Teachers (INVEST) tax initiative.
These positions are critical to the fabric of our society but rely on public funding. Instead of using the tax code to benefit the wealthy, let’s use it to fix some of the serious problems facing our communities.
My proposal is simple:
Exempt the first $50,000 of earnings of federal income tax from INVESTers and give them an immediate boost of up to $6,000 a year in income.
Pay the estimated $60 billion annual cost of this initiative by closing the loopholes from the alternative minimum tax that allows corporations and the wealthiest 1% to hide income.
Use this measure as a first-step solution to give state legislatures, local jurisdictions and the federal government time to develop strategies to improve long-term compensation for teachers and school personnel, first responders, veterans and enlisted military families.
INVESTers still pay Social Security, Medicare, state and local taxes, and premiums on healthcare and retirement plans.
My proposal provides a much-needed income boost without costing local taxpayers an extra cent.
It is well-settled law that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms. I support this individual right of responsible and law abiding American citizens.
As someone who has lost a loved one to gun violence, I am not willing to accept the idea that the Second Amendment holds us powerless to prevent nearly 40,000 deaths and nearly 100,000 injuries from firearms each year in the United States. The answer is not found in arbitrary bans but in promoting responsible firearm ownership.
As your representative, I will work to promote the purchase of gun safes through tax incentives. Mass shootings make headlines, but suicides make up the vast majority of gun deaths each year. By preventing juvenile thoughts from turning into dangerous adult actions, we help prevent thousands of deaths. Responsible firearm storage also protects from accidental discharge when a toddler or a neighborhood friend finds a hidden firearm and believes it is a toy. Finally, increased use of gun safes will slow the proliferation of stolen firearms that account for nearly one-fourth of violent gun deaths annually.
An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that we need universal background checks to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. We have to close loopholes that currently allow 1 in 5 guns to be sold in “no questions asked” transactions through private and online sales. That’s millions of guns sold without a background check and can easily fall into the hands of criminals and domestic abusers.
I will do more to prevent ownership of firearms by those who have battered their partner or spouse. While many states, including Virginia, have laws against firearm ownership by a spouse batterer, there are few requirements to actually check up on whether someone has actually surrendered their arms. The same issue exists at the federal level.
I support the ban on bump stocks, raising the age for gun ownership and the exploration of a buyback program as a way to reduce firearm death and injury. Training, special licenses and re-certifications should also be requirements. This leads to responsible gun ownership.
For too long, special interests have fought to prevent you from having access to the information that allows you to support intelligent policy. Never again can we allow people like Rob Wittman to co-sponsor bills like the SHARE (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement) Act which removes restrictions on the use of silencers and flash suppressors and prevents the ATF from classifying ammunition as being “armor piercing.” Or vote on spending bills that curtail the ability of the Centers for Disease Control to perform meaningful research on how we can be safer without curtailing the rights of law-abiding Americans.
I speak to the silent majority of responsible gun owners who are justified in their fear of a gun grab but also don’t want to live in fear that their children will be the next victim. I ask you to join me in a fight that respects the individual right to bear arms and does more to protect the most vulnerable among us.
The 1st Congressional District of Virginia is one of the most veteran heavy districts in the country, and here, maybe more than anywhere, we need to support our military members as well as our military families. I have family members who served and I have veterans on my campaign staff. When I say thank you for your service, I do so grateful every day for what you to keep our country safe and advance the principles of democracy throughout the world.
Supporting the troops and their families does not mean supporting every foreign entanglement imposed upon them. It means asking tough questions in Congress before we go to war, and once we are on war footing, it means making sure that they have the manpower and equipment to get the job done effectively and get back home.
The least I can do as your representative in Congress is make sure that the executive branch is held accountable and that we don’t hand over the war-making ability to just one person. Congress should decide when we fight, just as it is stated in the constitution which you swore to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Economy & Jobs
This is a wonderful country in which hard work can mean success. However, as a nation, we should do a better job at making sure that the tools to success are available for everyone. America needs to recommit to the education systems which made us the envy of the world and provided a hand up out of poverty for millions of hard working Americans who sought only to pursue the American Dream.
First, we must focus on early education. Early exposure to language can make all the difference for future success. I want to close what early learning experts call the 30-million-word gap between children from poor households and children in rich households. While supporting K-12 is important, by the time many children enter Kindergarten, he or she is already behind the learning curve so far that catching up is impossible. We can do this by educating the caregivers on how to better interact with their children.
Tackling this language development gap in America means opening up huge economic possibilities and a chance to grow our economy by maximizing the potential of all of our citizens, not just the ones of a fortunate birth. This is a commitment to our children that will cost us far less in the long run than the band aids we use now.
Secondly, while I am committed to higher education, not all paths are created equal. For too long the popular idea placed upon high school students that going directly to college after graduation is a path to personal and financial success. The reality is much different. While wages have remained stagnant when adjusted for inflation, the cost of tuition has more than doubled in the last 20 years. This means crippling debt for a degree that may not even bring gainful employment. Meanwhile, there is continually a crucial shortage of high-paying, vocational jobs left unfilled.
We should be flexible in the path we seek for successful students. Beginning in middle school we should offer vocational tracks for students who test well and who have demonstrated an interest. Upon completion of the program, we produce a generation of high-skilled students ready to tackle the real world.
Believe me, I want my children and your children to have the opportunity to get higher education. The values are inestimable. However, I want my children to be financially successful as well and if it means my daughter is a plumber for a few years while she builds up the financial stability to pay for school in cash, I’m okay with that too.
Energy & Environment
When the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970, it was a bipartisan effort to combat polluted rivers, smog and toxic runoff in our drinking water. We put in place safeguards using science, research and enforcement activities to protect the health and livelihoods of millions of Americans.
It’s important that we maintain that outlook by creating environmental policies that make sense for the planet and our economy. Policies must balance economic development with conservation goals over the long run because economic prosperity is directly tied to environmental progress. They must advance together.
My family’s roots are in agriculture. The same can be said for many, many families in the 1st District. Whether it is growing crops, farming oysters or making their living through fishing one of the many fisheries offered by the 1st District, environmental protection means economic protection for many families. To condone any corporate practices which would pollute and endanger the environment on which much of our economy is built is dangerous.
Common sense environmental policy includes creating long-term solutions with buy-in from both sides. We achieve that by providing market-based incentives for companies to reduce pollution, taking into consideration agriculture with the creation of new rules and ensuring agencies like the EPA and USDA work together to meet the needs of citizens and businesses across localities.
We should be promoting green technologies for energy generation as an alternative revenue source that builds a regional economy and reduces our carbon footprint. We could build solar farms across the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula and supply our region with much of its power needs. Not only would this bring more high tech jobs to the 1st District, it would help us preserve our agricultural heritage and ensure our economic future.
It’s time we bring all parties to the table and start finding common ground on environmental protection. A failure to plan and protect our natural resources leads to more corporations determining the fate of our planet.
Our healthcare system is broken just as surely as our political system is broken.
Like many, I was hopeful for what would come from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In many ways it was a monumental achievement. For the first time in American history our government addressed comprehensive healthcare reform. Through the ACA, millions of Americans gained unprecedented access to health insurance that was previously too expensive or otherwise unattainable. The ACA solidified that insurers can no longer deny coverage to vulnerable Americans because of pre-existing conditions, or issue policies with lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits.
I also recognize that the ACA is not perfect. I know that many people saw their premiums skyrocket. I know that we failed to target the biggest drivers of cost in healthcare, mainly insurance and pharmaceutical monopolies. I know the ACA does not include coverage for vision and dental, which can be just as important in quality of life and prosperity as traditional medicine.
Finally, the ACA was reactive rather than proactive. We have disabled people and a rapidly aging population that is increasingly homebound. Nursing homes are exorbitant and travel is difficult. Even the more cost effective route of staying home can result in bankruptcy and financial ruin just to manage their healthcare bills. We can do more for these people.
I want to address the problems of the ACA with honesty and integrity. We can do this by looking to see where we’ve gotten healthcare right. Medicare has been an overwhelming success and it’s time we make a commitment for a Medicare-for-all like system which includes coverage for dental and vision. Medicare works because we’ve untied the hands of government to negotiate with doctors, pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry. We can also invest in the growing market of healthcare providers that can travel to their patients or in some cases visit electronically.
Just as we have made a commitment to hardworking seniors, we can make the same commitment to all hardworking Americans. We need to let them know that a minor illness won’t be the difference between having a home and being homeless. We need to let them know that a major illness won’t be the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.
Reforming the VA
Millions of Americans have put their life on the line for this country, and they deserve the best healthcare in their time of need.
I have spoken to hundreds of veterans and heard the complaints about slow and inefficient service. I know people have missed out on life-saving treatments because someone held up paperwork for arbitrary reasons. But, I also know that the VA has a type of institutional knowledge that needs to be part of the solution. Will private, for-profit hospitals be able to keep tabs on the unique issues that face veterans and no other category of US citizens? Will your local hospital be prepared to ask the right questions about agent orange exposure, Gulf War syndrome, and exposure to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq?
My plan is to greatly increase the role of private hospitals for routine care. All-too-often we ask people to travel long distances for inconvenient appointment times. While legislation has been passed to deal with this problem, based on my conversations with veterans, it clearly isn’t enough. I know people are still enduring the same incredible inconveniences. I want you to get your basic care from the doctor down the street, not across the state. However, I also want checkups at the VA to account for issues that will be missed by the average family practitioner. This plan is what will best serve our veterans. We owe them that.
The United States is a unique country with a diversity of cultures and ideas that make us strong and innovative. The reality is that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are here because they want what we want: a better life for themselves and their families.
While it is easy for some politicians to scapegoat undocumented immigrants to the cheers of crowds and rallies, there is a human and economic toll that is never discussed. It is unrealistic to think that we are going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. We must find pathways for citizenship, starting with the resident alien (green card) process.
Working with members of both parties, I will bring about common sense immigration reform. Such reform first starts with preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. For non-DACA recipients, we need to establish a clear set of guidelines, based on fairness to taxpayers and legal immigrants, that would take into account the amount of time a person or family has spent in the U.S., whether they have paid taxes and their involvement in the community.
Comprehensive immigration must honor our fundamental values of treating people who come to the U.S. with dignity and respect, and being true to the rule of law.
Fair and unfettered access to high-speed internet is critical for success in the 21st Century.
The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 revolutionized power in America. Over the next few decades, block grants issued from the federal government to private corporations meant access to power for millions of Americans. We take this for granted now, but the economic impact was immeasurable.
It’s time to invest the same effort into Broadband Internet Access. Efforts during the Great Recession helped close the gap for rural broadband access. However, once the investment stopped, so did the increased access. While only 4 percent of urban and suburban citizens lack access to broadband, a whopping 39 percent lack access in rural areas. I want to change that.
Once in Congress, I will work with the entire Virginia congressional delegation to ensure that block grant opportunities within the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are pursued and won to provide more funding to Virginia’s Broadband Infrastructure Loan Fund, allowing all jurisdictions to build broadband infrastructure to even the most distant borders.
Furthermore, I will work with the Department of Transportation to make sure that any and all federal funding for highway projects come with the stipulation that broadband conduit installation be included in all new construction to further aid in the process of “wiring up” all rural areas, not only in the 1st District but the entire country. This is how we begin to eliminate the digital divide and make broadband accessible to all communities.
Just imagine the economic and social impact from these efforts? Senior citizens with disabilities in rural areas will be able to visit their doctor from home with a computer without the pain and burden of travel. Young parents will be able to telecommute in the rapidly growing data sectors, adding to our GDP and truly making us a country that values families. Students will be able to save on costly room and board by accessing online coursework. These are just three examples and just the beginning.
Net Neutrality was a concept supported by both sides in Congress until it became a political football used to score partisan points. Net neutrality encourages innovation and access to information, something that both liberals and conservatives should rally around.
As your congresswoman, I will immediately co-sponsor legislation (the reintroduced version of what is now HR 4585 Save Net Neutrality Act) to reverse the FCC chair’s decision to end net neutrality and allow additional bandwidth charges at multiple levels. Failure to reverse this decision by the FCC and enshrine neutrality protections within our laws only hurts American democracy and is another example of government putting profits ahead of the people.
Vangie Williams Speaks to VA CD1 Progressives
Published: Jan. 29, 2018 By lowkell