Kathy Tran 1Kathy Tran

Current Position: State Delegate since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat

Overview: N/A

Summary

Current Position: State Delegate since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat

Overview: N/A

About

Kathy Tran

Source: Campaign page

Delegate Kathy Tran (VA-42) and her parents fled Vietnam as boat refugees when she was just seven months old. On the voyage, she grew so sick she almost died at sea. Although many other countries offered them asylum, they waited 13 months for the United States to accept their application. Kathy’s family risked everything to come to America because this country has always represented hope, opportunity and freedom. Now, she’s fighting for the American values that brought her family here in the Virginia House of Delegates representing the people of the 42nd District in the Commonweatlh of Virginia.

Kathy has devoted her career to ensuring that all working families have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. During her 12 years of service at the U.S. Department of Labor, she served in numerous leadership positions, including as the Acting Administrator for the Office of Workforce Investment and the Director of the Division of Policy, Legislation, and Regulation. In these roles, she provided strategic national leadership and technical assistance to the public workforce system, implemented the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and helped veterans acquire the job training and employment services they needed to transition into the civilian workforce.

Kathy went on to work at the National Immigration Forum, one of the nation’s leading immigration advocacy organizations. There, she advocated for policies that prepare immigrants in the workforce to reach their full career potential.

Kathy graduated from Duke University and earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan. The past president of her local PTA, she and her husband Matt live in West Springfield with their four children, Daven (8), Charlotte (6), Quinn (4), and baby Elise. They are avid Washington Nationals fans.

Experience

Education

  • BA History
    Duke University
    2019 to 2000
  • MSW
    University of Michigan
    2019 to 2003

Awards

  • Presidential Management Fellow (2003)

Personal

Place of Birth: Vietnam
Gender: Female
Race(s): Asian American
Religion: Buddhist
Spouse: Matthew Louis Reisman
Children: Daven Tran-Reisman, Quinn Tran-Reisman, Charlotte Tran-Reisman, and Elise Tran-Reisman

Membership & Affiliation

  • Temple B’nai Shalom
  • West Springfield Elementary School PTA (president)
  • Springfield District Democratic Committee
  • West Springfield Women Marchers Huddle

Contact

Legislative Assistant: Aditya Radhakrishnan, Rodrigo Valasquez-Soto
Administrative Assistant During Session: Charlotte Via

Email:

Offices

Capitol Office
Pocahontas Building
900 E. Main St,
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 698-1042

District Office
P.O. Box 2731
Springfield, Virginia 22152
Office:
Phone: (703) 828-7173

Web

Government Page, Twitter, Campaign Site

Politics

Source: Wikipedia

Kathy Tran (born 1978) shares the distinction with Kelly Fowler of being the first Asian-American women to be elected to the U.S. state of Virginia’s House of Delegates in November 2017.[1] She is the first Vietnamese American elected official on any level in the Commonwealth and is a Duke University graduate with a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Michigan.

Recent Elections

2019 State DelegateArray

Kathy K. L. Tran (D)16,17859.66%
Steve P. Adragna (R)10,90940.23%
Write-In (Write-in)300.11%
TOTAL27,117

2017 State DelegateArray

Kathy Tran (D)18,76161.0%
Lolita Isabel Mancheno-Smoak (R)11,96738.9%
Write in ()450.1%
TOTAL30,773

Finances

TRAN, KATHY K L has run in 1 race for public office, winning 1 of them. The candidate has raised a total of$662,147.

Source: Follow the Money

Committees

Committees

Science and Technology
Privileges and Elections

Subcommittees

Privileges and Elections – Subcommittee #3

Voting Record

See: Vote Smart

New Legislation

Source: Ballotpedia

Issues

Civil Rights

Standing Up for Women

The fight for women’s equality has defined America. While we have made great strides, we have far to go. Women continue to face gender-based discrimination and violence. We continue to be underrepresented in critical areas, including in in-demand industries that can lead to better prosperity for ourselves and our families, and elected and appointed office. Kathy will continue the fight for women’s equality in Virginia – all of Virginia prospers when women are treated equally, when women thrive economically, and when women are free from violence.

Kathy will oppose any attempt by politicians to interfere in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. She will fight against any proposed legislation that would impose medically unnecessary restrictions on reproductive health care providers or limit the ability of a woman to make the best decision for her health with her doctor.

Kathy is proud to have been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia (PPAV), NARAL Pro-Choice Virignia, EMILY’s List, and Virginia’s List during the 2017 Election.


Democracy

Kathy and her family fled Vietnam as refugees when she was just seven months old. They risked everything to come to the United States because for them, this country represented hope, opportunity, and freedom. Hate is a problem, not a policy, and Kathy uses her voice as Delegate to stand against those who seek to undermine a welcoming and inclusive Virginia.

At a time when the most fundamental elements of a well-functioning democracy are being challenged across the country, Kathy fights against laws and practices that keep Virginians from exercising their right to vote or seek to weaken our vote through gerrymandering or the influence of big money in politics.

Economy

Kathy has spent her entire career working for all Americans to have the skills, training, and credentials to reach their full career potential. During her 12 years of service at the U.S. Department of Labor, she helped shape national workforce development policy and programs. Now, Kathy brings that expertise to the House of Delegates to ensure that Virginia is globally competitive and that our region attracts good jobs. She will always fight for workforce and education programs that build strong talent pipelines, and for worker’s rights as critical to economic growth and social mobility.

One of Kathy’s proudest accomplishments during her time at the U.S. Department of Labor was her work on the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act, bipartisan legislation that helped expand employment services for transitioning service members and veterans. As Delegate, Kathy takes leadership in building partnerships with professional licensing boards, employers, industry associations, community colleges and others to make sure veterans are able to translate their intensive, world-class training and work experience to the civilian workforce. She will work to ensure that Virginia fulfills its obligation to our servicemembers and their families, and that our veterans have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.

Kathy is proud to have been endorsed by a wide range of business and labor organizations during the 2017 Election, including:

  • The Northern Virginia REALTORS® Political Action Committee (NV/RPAC) and the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) of Virginia
  • The Virginia AFL-CIO and the Northern Virginia Labor Federation
  • The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT)

Education

STRENGTHENING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

As a mom of four and the president of her local PTA, Kathy knows we need to ensure all children in Virginia have access to high-quality public education so they can thrive and compete. As Delegate, she fights to invest in our public school system to lower class sizes and increase teacher pay.

Kathy fights for affordable higher education, investment in our community colleges, and works to build strong career pathways from schools to the workforce. A former board member of the Esther Peterson Child Development Center at the U.S. Department of Labor, Kathy understands the critical importance of early childhood education in determining future academic success and will be a strong advocate in the General Assembly for universal pre-K.

Environment

The 42nd House District is home to Mason Neck State Park, one of our region’s greatest natural treasures. We must take action to not only protect Virginia’s natural heritage, but protect the future of our planet. Climate change is an existential threat, and requires urgent action. If our president refuses to address it, it is up to states to lead the way.

We need to focus on growing our clean energy industries in Virginia. We can be a global leader and innovator on solar, wind, and other renewable sources of energy, but it requires leadership at the state level.

At the U.S. Department of Labor, Kathy helped jumpstart the bio-energy industry in Montana. She helped bring together growers, economic development agencies, workforce development leaders, tribal governments, educational institutions, and other partners to put communities on a pathway to prosperity while producing renewable fuel sources. Kathy takes this experience and expertise to Richmond, and never stops fighting for Virginia’s clean energy future.

Kathy is proud to have been endorsed by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters (VALCV) and the Sierra Club during the 2017 Election.


Health Care

Expanding Access to Affordable Healthcare

Kathy will always work to protect and expand Virginians’ access to quality, affordable health care. Expanding Medicaid in the commonwealth would ensure that 400,000 vulnerable Virginians will no longer have to decide between paying for health care over other essentials, or waiting for a chronic condition to reach an emergency situation before seeking treatment.

Medicaid expansion also grows the economy, fueling the creation of new jobs in health care and social assistance. In fact, states with Medicaid expansion have experienced higher job growth in the health care sector than states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs. Further, every year billions of dollars in our federal taxes leave Virginia to support expanded Medicaid programs in other states; it is time for Virginians to also benefit.

Kathy will oppose any attempt by politicians to interfere in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, and will fight against any proposed legislation that would impose medically unnecessary restrictions on reproductive health care providers or limit the ability of a woman to make the best decision

Immigration

When Kathy was a baby, her family was welcomed here as refugees. She understands that those who seek the promise of opportunity, hope, and freedom in America help make that promise stronger.

Many of the issues facing immigrants and refugees today are issues Kathy faced growing up in the Vietnamese diaspora. That experience has informed her entire career. She has worked with immigrant communities across the country, from teaching ESL classes to detained asylum seekers in Newark, to encouraging entrepreneurship in Detroit’s Latino community, to running after-school programs for immigrant children in San Jose. In her most recent role at the National Immigration Forum, she advocated for policies that would help immigrants reach their full career potential.

Kathy supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship and values family-based immigration while meeting our nation’s economic needs. In Virginia, she also works to expand citizenship preparation classes, opposes efforts to shift federal immigration enforcement responsibilities to state and local authorities, and continues to defend Virginia’s in-state tuition for DACA recipients.


Safety

Preventing Gun Violence

For Kathy, enacting common-sense gun violence prevention measures means protecting our children and our communities. Parents should not have to worry if their kids will be safe when they send them to school or when they go outside to play.

As Delegate, Kathy fights to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and those with severe mental illness. She pushes for universal background checks to close the loopholes for sales of firearms at gun shows and over the Internet, and fights to restore Virginia’s “One-Handgun-a-Month” rule to combat gun-running. Kathy also fights for an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines.

Kathy is proud to have been endorsed by Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) PAC, and the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence during the 2017 Election.

Veterans

Honoring Veterans & Military Families

Our veterans and active duty service members have stood up in defense of our nation and our most fundamental values, and Kathy can be counted to stand up for them. Her brother David is a Combat Engineer Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Kathy and her family are tremendously proud of his service to our country, and it makes supporting veterans and military spouses a personal issue for her.

One of Kathy’s proudest accomplishments during her time at the U.S. Department of Labor was her work on the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act, bipartisan legislation that helped expand employment services for transitioning service members and veterans. As Delegate, Kathy leads in building partnerships with professional licensing boards, employers, industry associations, community colleges and others to make sure veterans are able to translate their intensive, world-class training and work experience to the civilian workforce.

Kathy knows that military spouses also make sacrifices for their families, including giving up their own schooling and earning potential when they are relocated. Kathy was responsible for coordinating policies designed to help military spouses keep their credentials as they moved across the country, so that they could continue to maintain and grow their careers and provide for their families. In the House of Delegates, Kathy continues to advocate on behalf of military spouses and families.

Virginia has taken some important steps towards expanding access to quality health care services for veterans. Under Governor McAuliffe, Virginia became the first state to develop provider agreements between community health centers and the federal Veterans Administration (VA) through the Veterans Choice Program, which will allow veterans to have more quality health care options closer to home. Virginia is also building two new veterans care centers, including in nearby Fauquier County. In the House of Delegates, Kathy is committed to continuing to make progress on expanding access to quality health care for veterans across the Commonwealth.

Kathy is proud to have been endorsed by Iraq war veteran Congressman Seth Moulton, and New Politics, a bipartisan organization that supports national service alumni and military veterans running for public office during the 2017 Election.

Twitter

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Steve AdragnaSteve Adragna

Current Position: General Manager of international consultancy and solution provider
Affiliation: Republican
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate

Overview: N/A

Summary

Current Position: General Manager of international consultancy and solution provider
Affiliation: Republican
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate

Overview: N/A

About

Steve Adragna 1

Source: Campaign page

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Steve was born in New York CIty and raised in suburban New Jersey.  His parents had lived through the Depression and World War II, and both had to leave school to help support their families — his father completed two years at City College; his mother was obliged to drop out of high school when her father became too ill to work, and she took a job in a knitting factory.

From an early age, Steve was taught the importance of family, hard work, education, and never giving up in pursuit of his goals. Those lessons became all the more sharp at the age of 14, when his father died suddenly and his mother had to return to the workforce with no high school diploma and no highly marketable skills.  In spite of the challenges, Steve excelled in school and turned down admission offers from several Ivy League colleges in order to attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he majored in International Politics and graduated with honors.  To make ends meet, he worked throughout college — first in an ice cream shop, then running a media project on Capitol Hill, and finally as a full-fledged staff member of a prominent public policy and advocacy organization.

Steve left the Washington area only to attend the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he was an Earhart Fellow. He again worked throughout his four years there, as Research Staff Director of the International Security Studies Program.  Despite developing good job prospects by earning master’s and doctoral degrees, Steve was determined to serve the country that had afforded him so much opportunity.  He received an extremely rare direct appointment as a combat arms officer in reserve components of the US Army, as an armor officer, and went on to serve for 15 years in command and staff positions in armored cavalry, Special Forces, and strategic intelligence units.  After graduate school, Steve returned to the National Capital Area in 1989 and put down roots in Virginia, with which he had fallen in love during his years at Georgetown.  He has lived in Northern Virginia ever since.

Steve served the national interest as a civilian, too, working for some 13 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency in a variety of roles, often on highly complex and extremely sensitive issues.  He entered the business world in 2002, but continued to support the national security sector for several years, first as an on-site manager and later in progressively more senior executive roles with several leading firms. Seeking still greater challenges, Steve joined an international consultancy and solution provider, becoming general manager of its Integrated Solutions Group and supporting clients all over the world.  Today, as a business owner, Steve builds teams that deliver solutions that span multiple continents, cultures, levels of development and popular perceptions to overcome all manner of complex and critical challenges.

Juggling career and family obligations hasn’t prevented Steve from serving the community as well.  He served as president of the Glenmore homeowners association until the start of this campaign, and previously served as president of the large Crosspointe and Shadowalk homeowner associations.  In the latter two roles, he was active in promoting the intelligent and creative redevelopment of the old Laurel Hill prison complex and the construction of the South County Middle School.  He chaired a citizen review panel for the south county portion of a review of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.  He has been active in a number of service organizations, was honored as the West Springfield Rotarian of the Year for 2004-05, and is a proud member of American Legion Post 176 in Springfield.

Steve also has been active in public affairs at the grassroots level for many years.  He served as Outreach Director of the Springfield District Republican Committee, and was dual-hatted for a time as the captain of both Fountainhead and Silverbrook precincts.  Over the years, he has been an active supporter of and campaign volunteer for several of our area’s most able leaders, including Tom Davis, Barbara Comstock, Tim Hugo, Pat Herrity and Dave Albo.

Steve is the proud father of four children, the youngest of whom is still in the Fairfax County Public School system.  He dedicates his energy and his efforts to doing all in his power to make the world they inherit a more stable, prosperous, happy and opportunity-filled place.  Steve and his wife, Constance, reside in Fairfax Station.
workforce with no high school diploma and no highly marketable skills.  In spite of the challenges, Steve excelled in school and turned down admission offers from several Ivy League colleges in order to attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he majored in International Politics and graduated with honors.  To make ends meet, he worked throughout college — first in an ice cream shop, then running a media project on Capitol Hill, and finally as a full-fledged staff member of a prominent public policy and advocacy organization.

My Values

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”
John F. Kennedy 

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
Ronald Reagan

  • We’re all in this together.
  • Treat others as you would have them treat you.
  • Integrity matters; put principle before popularity.
  • Truthfulness begets credibility.
  • Government exists by the will of the people and to serve them, not the other way around.
  • Put people first; embrace bipartisanship as fully as possible. 

Experience

Work Experience

Education

Contact

Email:

Web

Campaign Site, Twitter

Issues

Source: Campaign page

My Priorities for Virginia and Our District

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, or a monopoly on good ideas.  But I have a set of policy and legislative priorities that I will champion in the House of Delegates:

Fiscal responsibility, budgets and spending, and taxation

Among government’s top responsibilities is to be a good steward of the people’s money and to focus public investment on sectors that yield the most benefit for the most people.  Government shouldn’t try to run people’s lives or solve every conceivable problem.  Instead we should focus our finite resources on things (like the issue areas below) that will generate real benefit and help to unleash the vast creative talent and economic potential of our people, our businesses and our academic and scientific-technical communities.  I believe that families know how to invest and spend their money better than government does, so we should limit the growth of government spending and instead put more money back in the hands of people, and the businesses that create new and better jobs and grow our economy for the benefit of all Virginians.

I think it speaks volumes that, when it became clear that inaction by the General Assembly relative to conformity of the state’s tax code with the recently revised federal tax laws would result in a multibillion-dollar revenue windfall — effectively a massive tax increase on Virginia’s families — the first impulse of the Northam administration and the Democratic caucus in the General Assembly was to spend it all.  Instead, I proposed that any such revenue windfall be returned to the taxpayers who paid that money in the first place — allowing them to save, invest or spend it in whatever combination makes the most sense for each of them.  We should be looking for more ways to promote economic growth, investment and job creation by taxing less, not spending more.  Happily, the Republican majority passed tax relief this session, and I’m committed to fighting any future attempts to impose new taxes on Virginia’s families and businesses.

Stimulating economic growth and job creation

Economic growth in Virginia hasn’t neared peak potential for some time.  We’ve slipped or fluctuated in annual rankings of the most business-friendly states and — make no mistake — we compete directly with other states for business investment, job creation, and the most innovative new companies and brightest human minds.  We need to remove excessive red tape and regulations that are stifling the creation of vibrant new businesses and inhibiting the growth of established enterprises.   Eliminating excessive business fees, lowering taxes, and creating incentives for businesses of all kinds — including agricultural as well as industrial and high-tech — to set up in Virginia and stay in Virginia will expand job creation and give all Virginians more opportunities to find well-paying jobs with attractive benefits.  Rather than fearing global economic interrelationships, Virginia should be at the forefront of exploiting them, and continually expanding both its export markets and its ability to attract foreign investment.  I’ll work with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade, and the US Department of Commerce to implement new ideas and new programs to put the Commonwealth at the forefront of US export-driven business growth.

Transportation 

Too often, we underestimate the effects of chronic transportation congestion on our economy, our environment and our quality of life.  We waste fuel, we pollute our air, and we compromise our quality of life:  We lose valuable time behind the wheel or stuck in traffic even on mass transit systems — time in which we otherwise could be productively engaged or with our families.  We have some of the worst traffic in the country.  Our mass transit options are expensive, offer few attractive “feeder routes” from outlying areas like our district, and frequently deliver poor customer comfort  (Some of the busiest Metro stations on the Red Line repeatedly go through summers with air conditioning systems that are essentially inoperative).  We can and must do better.

Virginia should be an innovator in this area.  Yes, we need additional and wider roads, and better maintained roads, in our region. But pavement alone is not the answer.  We should be exploring new ideas like public-private partnerships for creating accessible telework centers, and for additional Express Lanes.  In a global economy linked by modern telecommunications, many businesses should be able to accommodate, and indeed benefit from, innovative staffing solutions and workforce management techniques. Rather than expanding very expensive “heavy” rail systems that require a dedicated right-of-way, we should develop new and efficient bus rapid transit systems.  We should invest in promising technologies, bringing to bear the talent of Virginia’s universities and high-tech sector, so that perhaps we can put emission-free electric buses and other transit vehicles on existing roadways,  while offering superior comfort and convenience (Wi-Fi access, reliable climate control, platform loading, and more).  Virginia is blessed with abundant technical, engineering and business expertise. Let’s put that talent to work for the good of all Virginians, and not be afraid to dream big.

Respect for human life

By now I think everyone knows that my opponent was the chief patron of a bill that would have legalized abortions up to the moment of birth; would have eliminated both informed consent and parental consent; would have eliminated the requirement for the concurrence of two (or even one) additional physicians; and would have made such late-term and partial-birth abortions permissible simply because the continued pregnancy “likely…would impair the mental health” of the woman.  Our governor and other officials subsequently appeared to say that any infant that survived such a procedure could be “kept comfortable” while the mother and physician (who both has just tried to terminate the pregnancy) engage in a “discussion” of what to do with it.

Some people have expressed doubt that such an extreme bill actually was introduced.  I encourage everyone who has an open mind to read the bill yourself.  You can find the official text here.  If you have not seen the video of my opponent calmly defending her legislation, you can view it safely by clicking here.  It’s shocking.

Abortion remains a controversial topic in Virginia, but late term abortion for “mental impairment” and absent parental or informed consent, with the concurrence of only one physician, is not — it is almost universally reviled.  By any objective standard, this sort of extreme, Orwellian social and political policy is appalling and has no place in Virginia.  We routinely and appropriately charge those who murder a woman who is late in her pregnancy with an additional count of infanticide.  Why should it be legal to do the same thing in a clinical setting, and solely on the grounds of undefined “mental health impairment”?  As your Delegate in Richmond, I steadfastly will oppose any and all such extremist legislation.

Education and workforce training

Virginia can’t do things like be an innovation leader in transportation, or information technology, or advanced telecommunications, or other sectors in the vanguard of economic growth if we do not develop and attract, and then maintain, a highly skilled and dynamic workforce.  We cannot expect our children to thrive in the 21st century economy if we do not provide them all with an array of quality educational offerings.

While many decisions concerning education are made at the local level by elected school boards, state government has an important role to play.  Virginia needs a sound education strategy and a uniform commitment to focusing effort and resources on the classroom and the skills that children need to have.  We should create mechanisms that make it easier for teachers, parents and communities to work together to achieve desired outcomes.  We can do more to harness the power and creativity of the business community and our premier universities to help fix failing schools and afford the opportunity for a high-quality education to all of Virginia’s children.  Too often I hear from primary and early education teachers that we aren’t doing enough for special education students, or those who would benefit from an educational “track” that would prepare them for working in a worthwhile trade.  

While I believe that standardized tests serve a useful purpose — giving us common yardsticks with which to measure proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics and so on state-wide — we don’t need to make them an end in themselves.  We should give teachers more flexibility in how they teach, while ensuring that our curricula provide more attention to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) without giving short shrift to our great country’s (and the world’s) history and literature or to foreign languages, the arts, or vocational and technical training.  

Given our state’s vast potential and talent, and the resources we invest in education, we can and must expect better.  In the General Assembly, I’ll work across party lines to develop and implement results-focused, common-sense solutions that will give our children the kind of education they need and deserve, one that will help ensure that Virginia remains both a leader in workforce development and the kind of place which dynamic businesses and talented people will want to call home.

Health care and related issues

It goes without saying that health care is a major concern of people all across our country.  It also should go without saying that people of good conscience want for their fellow citizens to have access to affordable, quality health care.  But having government directly involved in the process only distorts market forces and soon becomes counterproductive.

No one wins if the entire (artificial) structure collapses.  Rather than involving itself directly in the process — and in so doing making it unsustainable for insurers to stay in business, while using taxpayer funds to subsidize ever-higher premiums — government should create incentives for a truly functional market that gives consumers more choice while fostering competition to control premiums.  I think that common-sense standards like allowing college-age children to remain on their parents’ policies while they’re just starting out in professional life, or providing for maternity care, are just that — common sense.  But we also should be exploring the creation of larger risk pools by allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines; allowing small businesses and even groups of individuals to band together to form larger risk pools of their own and thus negotiate more attractive premiums for insurance plans whose benefits more closely match their particular coverage needs; and more.

But insurance is only part of the equation.  We must tackle the costs of health care as well.  A report by The Economist showed that while GDP per person has increased three-fold since 1960, over the same period health spending per person has grown to more than eight times as much.  We must find ways to bring costs (especially for pharmaceuticals) under control, give consumers more choices with respect to obtaining primary health care, and restructure and reform “safety net” programs so that we can provide care for those who need the most help and do so in a cost-effective way.  

As I’ve said before, “We’re all in this together.”  If we put aside partisan rancor and instead focus on our people and their needs, we can develop and implement bold new solutions for delivering the standard of care that has made our country the envy of the world, without busting our budgets and thereby destroying the very foundations of the system of care that we are trying to save.

Addressing the addiction and mental health crisis

While I’m a strong proponent of fiscal discipline, one issue area to which Virginia needs to devote greater effort and resources is that of combating the interrelated scourges of substance abuse/addiction and mental illness.  You’ve no doubt read about our country’s growing problem with opiate addiction, and the associated resurgence of addiction to (cheaper) heroin.  Yet the scope of the problem right here in Virginia is appalling.  Drug overdoses surpassed both motor-vehicle related fatalities and gun-related fatalities as the number one cause of unnatural death in 2013.

I’ve seen these problems manifest themselves in my own neighborhood, and have seen the effects they have had on some of my friends’ and neighbors’ families.  These are all the more heart-rending when we see our young people caught in a downward spiral around the mutually reinforcing ills of addiction and mental illness.  In the case of many adults, mental illness has been a root cause of violent crime, including domestic violence.  Put plainly, our mental/behavioral health care and addiction treatment systems are letting down our fellow Virginians most in need.  When we continually fail them, we also expose our broader communities to greater risk. 

This has to stop.  As a legislator, I will be committed to overhauling and improving our health care system so that those most in need can reliably get the help they deserve.  We must adopt a holistic approach, one that addresses all facets of these problems, including education, prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.  We must focus more law enforcement attention and action on those who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society, most especially our children, and put those people out of business and behind bars.  My vision is for a task force comprised of lawmakers, medical and mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, and a cross-section of citizens (including parents) to look at best practices around the country and then to develop practical recommendations that the state and our civic institutions can put into law and practice to provide meaningful and measurable improvement in this area.  We owe it to our fellow Virginians, and to our children, to make this a priority.

Civil Rights

Respect for Life

By now I think everyone knows that my opponent was the chief patron of a bill that would have legalized abortions up to the moment of birth; would have eliminated both informed consent and parental consent; would have eliminated the requirement for the concurrence of two (or even one) additional physicians; and would have made such late-term and partial-birth abortions permissible simply because the continued pregnancy “likely…would impair the mental health” of the woman.  Our governor and other officials subsequently appeared to say that any infant that survived such a procedure could be “kept comfortable” while the mother and physician (who both has just tried to terminate the pregnancy) engage in a “discussion” of what to do with it.

Some people have expressed doubt that such an extreme bill actually was introduced.  I encourage everyone who has an open mind to read the bill yourself.  You can find the official text here.  If you have not seen the video of my opponent calmly defending her legislation, you can view it safely by clicking here.  It’s shocking.

Abortion remains a controversial topic in Virginia, but late term abortion for “mental impairment” and absent parental or informed consent, with the concurrence of only one physician, is not — it is almost universally reviled.  By any objective standard, this sort of extreme, Orwellian social and political policy is appalling and has no place in Virginia.  We routinely and appropriately charge those who murder a woman who is late in her pregnancy with an additional count of infanticide.  Why should it be legal to do the same thing in a clinical setting, and solely on the grounds of undefined “mental health impairment”?  As your Delegate in Richmond, I steadfastly will oppose any and all such extremist legislation.

Economy

Fiscal Responsibility

Among government’s top responsibilities is to be a good steward of the people’s money and to focus public investment on sectors that yield the most benefit for the most people.  Government shouldn’t try to run people’s lives or solve every conceivable problem.  Instead we should focus our finite resources on things (like the issue areas below) that will generate real benefit and help to unleash the vast creative talent and economic potential of our people, our businesses and our academic and scientific-technical communities.  I believe that families know how to invest and spend their money better than government does, so we should limit the growth of government spending and instead put more money back in the hands of people, and the businesses that create new and better jobs and grow our economy for the benefit of all Virginians.

I think it speaks volumes that, when it became clear that inaction by the General Assembly relative to conformity of the state’s tax code with the recently revised federal tax laws would result in a multibillion-dollar revenue windfall — effectively a massive tax increase on Virginia’s families — the first impulse of the Northam administration and the Democratic caucus in the General Assembly was to spend it all.  Instead, I proposed that any such revenue windfall be returned to the taxpayers who paid that money in the first place — allowing them to save, invest or spend it in whatever combination makes the most sense for each of them.  We should be looking for more ways to promote economic growth, investment and job creation by taxing less, not spending more.  Happily, the Republican majority passed tax relief this session, and I’m committed to fighting any future attempts to impose new taxes on Virginia’s families and businesses.

Stimulating economic growth and job creation

Economic growth in Virginia hasn’t neared peak potential for some time.  We’ve slipped or fluctuated in annual rankings of the most business-friendly states and — make no mistake — we compete directly with other states for business investment, job creation, and the most innovative new companies and brightest human minds.  We need to remove excessive red tape and regulations that are stifling the creation of vibrant new businesses and inhibiting the growth of established enterprises.   Eliminating excessive business fees, lowering taxes, and creating incentives for businesses of all kinds — including agricultural as well as industrial and high-tech — to set up in Virginia and stay in Virginia will expand job creation and give all Virginians more opportunities to find well-paying jobs with attractive benefits.  Rather than fearing global economic interrelationships, Virginia should be at the forefront of exploiting them, and continually expanding both its export markets and its ability to attract foreign investment.  I’ll work with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade, and the US Department of Commerce to implement new ideas and new programs to put the Commonwealth at the forefront of US export-driven business growth.

Education

Education and Workforce Training

Virginia can’t do things like be an innovation leader in transportation, or information technology, or advanced telecommunications, or other sectors in the vanguard of economic growth if we do not develop and attract, and then maintain, a highly skilled and dynamic workforce.  We cannot expect our children to thrive in the 21st century economy if we do not provide them all with an array of quality educational offerings.

While many decisions concerning education are made at the local level by elected school boards, state government has an important role to play.  Virginia needs a sound education strategy and a uniform commitment to focusing effort and resources on the classroom and the skills that children need to have.  We should create mechanisms that make it easier for teachers, parents and communities to work together to achieve desired outcomes.  We can do more to harness the power and creativity of the business community and our premier universities to help fix failing schools and afford the opportunity for a high-quality education to all of Virginia’s children.  Too often I hear from primary and early education teachers that we aren’t doing enough for special education students, or those who would benefit from an educational “track” that would prepare them for working in a worthwhile trade.  

While I believe that standardized tests serve a useful purpose — giving us common yardsticks with which to measure proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics and so on state-wide — we don’t need to make them an end in themselves.  We should give teachers more flexibility in how they teach, while ensuring that our curricula provide more attention to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) without giving short shrift to our great country’s (and the world’s) history and literature or to foreign languages, the arts, or vocational and technical training.  

Given our state’s vast potential and talent, and the resources we invest in education, we can and must expect better.  In the General Assembly, I’ll work across party lines to develop and implement results-focused, common-sense solutions that will give our children the kind of education they need and deserve, one that will help ensure that Virginia remains both a leader in workforce development and the kind of place which dynamic businesses and talented people will want to call home.

Health Care

It goes without saying that health care is a major concern of people all across our country.  It also should go without saying that people of good conscience want for their fellow citizens to have access to affordable, quality health care.  But having government directly involved in the process only distorts market forces and soon becomes counterproductive.

No one wins if the entire (artificial) structure collapses.  Rather than involving itself directly in the process — and in so doing making it unsustainable for insurers to stay in business, while using taxpayer funds to subsidize ever-higher premiums — government should create incentives for a truly functional market that gives consumers more choice while fostering competition to control premiums.  I think that common-sense standards like allowing college-age children to remain on their parents’ policies while they’re just starting out in professional life, or providing for maternity care, are just that — common sense.  But we also should be exploring the creation of larger risk pools by allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines; allowing small businesses and even groups of individuals to band together to form larger risk pools of their own and thus negotiate more attractive premiums for insurance plans whose benefits more closely match their particular coverage needs; and more.

But insurance is only part of the equation.  We must tackle the costs of health care as well.  A report by The Economist showed that while GDP per person has increased three-fold since 1960, over the same period health spending per person has grown to more than eight times as much.  We must find ways to bring costs (especially for pharmaceuticals) under control, give consumers more choices with respect to obtaining primary health care, and restructure and reform “safety net” programs so that we can provide care for those who need the most help and do so in a cost-effective way.  

As I’ve said before, “We’re all in this together.”  If we put aside partisan rancor and instead focus on our people and their needs, we can develop and implement bold new solutions for delivering the standard of care that has made our country the envy of the world, without busting our budgets and thereby destroying the very foundations of the system of care that we are trying to save.

Addressing the addiction and mental health crisis

While I’m a strong proponent of fiscal discipline, one issue area to which Virginia needs to devote greater effort and resources is that of combating the interrelated scourges of substance abuse/addiction and mental illness.  You’ve no doubt read about our country’s growing problem with opiate addiction, and the associated resurgence of addiction to (cheaper) heroin.  Yet the scope of the problem right here in Virginia is appalling.  Drug overdoses surpassed both motor-vehicle related fatalities and gun-related fatalities as the number one cause of unnatural death in 2013.

I’ve seen these problems manifest themselves in my own neighborhood, and have seen the effects they have had on some of my friends’ and neighbors’ families.  These are all the more heart-rending when we see our young people caught in a downward spiral around the mutually reinforcing ills of addiction and mental illness.  In the case of many adults, mental illness has been a root cause of violent crime, including domestic violence.  Put plainly, our mental/behavioral health care and addiction treatment systems are letting down our fellow Virginians most in need.  When we continually fail them, we also expose our broader communities to greater risk. 

This has to stop.  As a legislator, I will be committed to overhauling and improving our health care system so that those most in need can reliably get the help they deserve.  We must adopt a holistic approach, one that addresses all facets of these problems, including education, prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.  We must focus more law enforcement attention and action on those who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society, most especially our children, and put those people out of business and behind bars.  My vision is for a task force comprised of lawmakers, medical and mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, and a cross-section of citizens (including parents) to look at best practices around the country and then to develop practical recommendations that the state and our civic institutions can put into law and practice to provide meaningful and measurable improvement in this area.  We owe it to our fellow Virginians, and to our children, to make this a priority.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Too often, we underestimate the effects of chronic transportation congestion on our economy, our environment and our quality of life.  We waste fuel, we pollute our air, and we compromise our quality of life:  We lose valuable time behind the wheel or stuck in traffic even on mass transit systems — time in which we otherwise could be productively engaged or with our families.  We have some of the worst traffic in the country.  Our mass transit options are expensive, offer few attractive “feeder routes” from outlying areas like our district, and frequently deliver poor customer comfort  (Some of the busiest Metro stations on the Red Line repeatedly go through summers with air conditioning systems that are essentially inoperative).  We can and must do better.

Virginia should be an innovator in this area.  Yes, we need additional and wider roads, and better maintained roads, in our region. But pavement alone is not the answer.  We should be exploring new ideas like public-private partnerships for creating accessible telework centers, and for additional Express Lanes.  In a global economy linked by modern telecommunications, many businesses should be able to accommodate, and indeed benefit from, innovative staffing solutions and workforce management techniques. Rather than expanding very expensive “heavy” rail systems that require a dedicated right-of-way, we should develop new and efficient bus rapid transit systems.  We should invest in promising technologies, bringing to bear the talent of Virginia’s universities and high-tech sector, so that perhaps we can put emission-free electric buses and other transit vehicles on existing roadways,  while offering superior comfort and convenience (Wi-Fi access, reliable climate control, platform loading, and more).  Virginia is blessed with abundant technical, engineering and business expertise. Let’s put that talent to work for the good of all Virginians, and not be afraid to dream big.

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