Current Position: State Delegate of VA House District 86 since 2022
A resident of downtown Herndon, Irene Shin has been involved in public service in Virginia since 2014. Irene currently works as Executive Director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, a nonprofit organization that organizes communities to increase civic education and engagement across the Commonwealth.
Source: Campaign page
Source: Campaign page
Previously, Irene has worked with Supervisor John Foust, now-Vice President Kamala Harris, and spent many years in community and political organizing, as well as a number of nonprofits to recruit and support Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Women to run for office.
Irene is the daughter of Korean immigrants, and was raised in Burbank, California. Her father is a small business owner, and her mother is a homemaker and a home caretaker for those with health problems who require assistance to live independently.
Irene’s family story is similar to many in the 86th District. She went to a state university on a scholarship and paid her way through college by waiting tables.
When Irene was 16, her father had a serious health problem. This was before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and her family did not have health insurance. After meeting obstacle after obstacle and an unaffordable health care system that was impossible to navigate, Irene’s father was forced to fly to Korea to seek treatment.
After landing in Seoul, he was given immediate care, was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and the next morning was in life-saving surgery. This kind of immediate care is still unavailable to many in Virginia.
Legislative Assistant: Jameson Babb
Administrative Assistant During Session:: Shenequa Patterson
- Government – DelIShin@house.virginia.gov
Phone: (804) 698-1086
397 Herndon Parkway, Suite 110
Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: (703) 677-8334
Communications, Technology and Innovation
Counties Cities and Towns
Counties Cities and Towns – Subcommittee #2
Communications, Technology and Innovation – Communications Subcommittee
Source: Campaign page
When I was 16, my dad had to fly to his home country of Korea to get life-saving surgery after he was diagnosed with cancer. As a small business owner, he couldn’t afford the care in his own country – it was easier for him to fly across the globe than it was for him to get the surgery in the United States. No family should have to go through that.
That’s why you can count on me to always fight for all Virginians’ access to affordable, quality healthcare. I’m committed to tackling the healthcare challenges facing our state, including the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs and the lack of transparency around hospital costs.
The General Assembly has begun a framework for capping specific lifesaving prescription drug costs such as the 2020 insulin $50 copay cap. The 2021 “Surprise Billing”bill, which protects patients from unexpected out-of network healthcare charges is also a step in the right direction towards leveling the playing field between healthcare providers, insurance companies, and patients.
Additionally, I support Medicaid waivers and believe they’re an effective tool to ensure people have access to care.
Mental health care is healthcare. I believe that affordable and quality coverage must include mental health treatment.
I support universal screening in our schools for early signs of mental health issues, integrating mental and physical health systems so that mental healthcare is included in primary care, and ensuring all mental health prevention tools are available to different language communities.
As a Delegate, I will work with my colleagues and community stakeholders to make sure every Virginian has the care they deserve.
I firmly believe that a woman’s autonomy over her own body is a fundamental human right. As Delegate, I will vote to ensure that access to abortion care, reproductive healthcare, contraception, and other family planning services are codified in Virginia.
I support enshrining a woman’s right to choose so that it’s always protected, even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Policies that restrict reproductive rights and access disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color. As a proud Asian-American woman, I will always be a fierce advocate for reproductive rights.
I will fight to ensure every woman is able to decide how and when to start a family, to make birth control affordable and accessible to all, and to end pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
It’s also crucial that we address pay inequity in our state; I believe Virginia’s Pay Transparency Law was an important step toward closing the wage gap. I know how important it is that we are able to make our own decisions for our bodies and lives, and I won’t back down in fighting for women’s rights.
Fighting Climate Change
Climate change is the fundamental problem facing our planet today, and addressing climate change is an urgent priority that the General Assembly must continue to address.
I support moving toward a 100% net renewable energy standard for electricity production, reducing mobility carbon pollution by making roads more accessible to bikers and pedestrians, continuing to increase affordable transit access, and transitioning our vehicle sales and publicly owned vehicle fleets to electric power.
It’s also important to keep sight of climate justice, and how that justice is a critical lens through which we look at climate change. For example, I believe clean, affordable access to public water is a right.
Just last year, when national and state health officials were emphasizing the need for people to frequently wash hands and sanitize homes, families in Virginia had their water shut off because of overdue utility bills. That was unacceptable. I worked with others to pull together a scrappy coalition of organizations to quickly get the water back on, and resolve the issue.
Voting Rights and Democracy Reform
My entire career has been dedicated to building a democracy that is accessible, multiracial, and inclusive to everyone. I currently lead a non-profit that focuses on increasing civic engagement for Virginians, particularly among Black, Indiginous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
In a time of hyper-political attacks on the integrity of our democracy, it’s important to send champions to Richmond who will preserve our democracy and fight to make it more inclusive.
Over the years, I have been a part of the fight to expand voting rights in Virginia. I’ve advocated for no-excuse absentee voting, the repeal photo ID requirements, pre-paid postage on mail ballots, and automatic voter registration.
In 2020, I led a coalition of voting rights organizations in suing the state to extend the voter registration deadline when the state’s website went down, which helped ensure 24,000 Virginians were able to make their voices heard in the November election.
As Delegate, I will support automatic restoration of voting rights to individuals who have been convicted of felonies, a repeal of the voter ID law, and same-day voter registration.
We also know that Big Money is flooding our politics, and is creating a system in which elected officials are more accountable to special interests than they are to constituents. Virginia has some of the weakest campaign finance laws in the country.
Currently, there are no limits of any kind on campaign donations and few limits on how campaign funds can be spent, including on personal expenses. As a Delegate, I will take a comprehensive approach to reforming our campaign finance system to limit the ability of special interests to influence politics and put power back in the hands of the people. That’s why I released my Ethical Virginia Campaign Reform Package.
My plan has four components:
A complete ban on campaign fundraising during all General Assembly sessions including special sessions – legislators should not be voting on bills and the budget while soliciting campaign contributions for re-election. Elected officials need to focus on working for their constituents, not their re-election, while being paid by taxpayers.
Enhance accountability of state resources. Public resources should not be used for campaign or personal communications. We need a firewall between official work such as constituent services,public employees, and political activities. Elected officials shouldn’t be able to use public resources to conduct campaign activities towards re-election or to promote private business.
Prohibit using campaign funds for personal expenses. Currently, Virginia has no limitations on using campaign funds as a personal expense account. I will work to ban this practice.
Any ethics reform needs increased fines and enforcement to be effective. The existing Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council was created to “encourage and facilitate compliance” with state law, with little in the way of enforcement and consequences for violations. I’ll work to reform campaign finance law and make sure penalties for campaign and fundraising violations are vigorously enforced for the public interest.
I lead a nonprofit organization that focuses on increasing civic engagement in the Commonwealth, including expanding and protecting access to the ballot.
We sued the state when its voter registration portal went down last year, and we helped make sure everyone could cast ballots safely in the middle of a pandemic. I will continue this fight in Richmond, and will always make sure Virginians’ can safely exercise their right to vote.
Criminal justice reform and fighting racial injustice
Our criminal justice system is broken, and is inherently biased against people of color and the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable communities.
As your Delegate, I will fight to end mass incarceration, support ending mandatory minimums for non-violent felonies, advance equity in our school system, end contracts with private prisons, ease formerly incarcerated people’s reentry into society, and disincentivize localities from hiring law enforcement previously disciplined or terminated for violating civil rights in other jurisdictions.
We also must ensure transparent and equitable redistricting processes so that our communities are able to build independent political power. I think back to my first organizing job when I worked in LA’s Koreatown, which was split into three different state legislature districts.
The maps precluded the Korean community from having a significant voice in any one district, and so stunted their ability to be heard. These types of inequities in our maps are common, and I will advocate in Richmond for fair maps and representation that reflects community interests
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Representation
Anti-AAPI rhetoric and violence have been on the rise over the past year, fueled by the COVID-19 crises and the xenophobic language from the last administration.
As an Asian-American, these attacks are heartbreaking and infuriating. More than ever, it’s important that our community is heard, visible, and has a seat at the table.
I will make sure that our AAPI communities are protected and that, while I will be the first Korean American woman member of the House of Delegates, I will not be the last.
TLGBQ+ Rights and making a more inclusive statement
I am a proud ally of the TLGBQ+ community, and will always fight for full and equal rights for all. Everyone deserves to feel safe and protected in the Commonwealth, and it’s important that we listen to the concerns TLGBQ+ community.
Virginia still has work to do to fully secure the rights of our TLGBQ+ community. It’s 2021, we must repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment in Virginia that bans gay marriage.
It’s also crucial that we repeal the conscience clause that allows people to deny TLGBQ+ couples the opportunity to adopt children.
We need to address the harassment that students often face in school based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and mandate anti-bullying training. There’s significant work to be done, and I’m ready to do it.
We must pass common sense gun legislation that will keep our communities safe. That’s why over the course of my career, I’ve helped gun safety candidates run for office everywhere, even in deep red districts.
I support a ban on assault weapons, mandatory background checks on gun sales, and a ban on ghost guns, which are 3D-printed plastic guns without serial numbers that cannot be detected by metal detectors.
I also believe we must include students in these conversations, and acknowledge their experience growing up with very real fears of a school shooting.
As the daughter of Korean parents who immigrated to the United States, I understand first hand how our diverse society is the result of our multi-ethnic and multicultural origins.
After the hateful past four years of targeted actions against immigrants, it is important to show everyone in our community that they are welcome here, and to provide access to the same resources as all Virginians.
That’s why I have worked to enact driving privilege cards and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Virginia. I’ll always stand for comprehensive immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship for families and DREAMers already working and living in the United States.
I will also advocate for the closure and de-licensing of the Farmville ICE detention center, to end the ability of the state to license private prisons, and to expand driving access to include full drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Additionally, I oppose efforts to shift federal immigration enforcement responsibilities to state and local authorities, as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) Program pushes for. I will always be a tireless advocate for our immigrant communities in the General Assembly.
Every child in the Commonwealth deserves a safe, world-class education. The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the inequities of our school systems and I believe we’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime in the coming year to build a strong, bipartisan coalition to fully fund our schools and care for our faculty and staff.
As a Delegate, I will champion universal pre-K as one method of tackling educational disparities early so that our students may all begin their academic journeys on even footing. Education is an important equalizer in our society and early learning is an essential way in which we set kids up for success.
Universal pre-K must be a priority in giving every Virginian child a chance at success. I also support higher wages for our incredible teachers, and ensuring schools have the resources they need to meet students’ individual needs. As Delegate, supporting our education system will be a top priority of mine.
Right now, we have an economy that simply does not work for working families. I am running to be a Delegate because I’ve seen time and time again how inaccessible our government can be, and I believe a strong working families plan is the root to remedying so many of the problems we face.
Too often, families have to make difficult choices in order to support and provide for their families. People are forced to choose between paying medical bills or paying for groceries; forced to choose between working for a paycheck or staying at home to care for a child. This is unacceptable.
As Delegate, I plan on championing paid family medical leave and paid sick leave for all Virginians. We should be guaranteeing that working people have access to paid sick days, as well as paid time off to care for a family member. This helps support our families, our economy, and public health.
In addition, I plan on introducing legislation for Universal Pre-K in Virginia. In addition to helping children get an equal start to their education, Universal Pre-K also enables parents and guardians to get back into the workforce more quickly.
When we support our working families, that means supporting everything; our jobs, our education, our healthcare, and everything in between.
Labor & Collective Bargaining
Across Virginia, workers should have the right to collective bargaining and I will advocate for localities to authorize collective bargaining agreements with public employees.
My mother is an SEIU 2015 home care worker. Honoring the dignity and needs of domestic workers and home care workers is personal for me.
I support Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which strengthen regulations governing workplace health and safety, and promote equal opportunities for employment and labor standards. I support expanding apprenticeship training opportunities, especially at community colleges, so that our workforce has better training and improved retention.
I support legislation that will repeal Virginia’s outdated and anti-organizing “Right to Work” provisions.