Current Position: Student, Old Dominion University
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate for VA House District 96
Source: Campaign page
I am a resident of James City County running for Virginia House of Delegates District 96 on an electoral and government reform platform as a Libertarian. District 96 is composed of parts of James City and York Counties and is currently represented by Republican Brenda Pogge since she was elected in 2007. Virginia has long been controlled by special interest groups, such as Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy donated to 17 Virginia candidates’ political committees in 2018 alone, a year without an election (VPAP.org). This campaign is about bringing awareness to the corruption in our Commonwealth and what steps must be taken to reverse the trend. A large problem with government is that it relies on politicians to legislate themselves. Instead of ensuring there is no corruption, they continue to raise their own paychecks, make it easier to be re-elected, and make it easier to raise more money from outside influences.
I would introduce a bill to change our current system from first-past-the-post to ranked-choice voting. This system is used in much of the world. As the name suggests, under this system voters would rank the candidates on the ballot from their favorite to least favorite. If no candidate receives over 50% on the first choice votes, then the last place candidate is eliminated, and their votes are distributed to the individual voters’ second ranked choice. This process repeats until a candidate has over 50%. The purpose of this, is to ensure that no votes are wasted. For example, in the 2016 Presidential Election, anyone who had voted for Gary Johnson would have had their next choice votes counted. There is no reason to vote for the lesser of two evils because you can vote your conscience without repercussions. There is no more spoiler effect.
Marijuana, as well as psychedelics, have been shown to be safer than both alcohol and tobacco, and yet, they remain illegal both at the federal level, and at the state level in Virginia. This is largely due to the federal war on drugs in the 1970s brought on by Richard Nixon, whom admitted to crafting it to silence left anti-war activists as well as racial minorities. This was further perpetuated by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, who criminalized the use of marijuana, while simultaneously using the Central Intelligence Agency to monetize crack-cocaine in the inner cities in order to fund a coup in Nicaragua. This continues today through federal corruption by the pharmaceutical and prison industries to keep these substances illegal. I would support legislation, which would be contrary to federal law, to allow for legal marijuana and psychedelic markets.
Additionally, people should not be serving time in jail or prison for non-violent drug possession charges. What someone chooses to do with their body should be their business and no one else’s. The government has no right to infringe on their liberty. The government is saying that drugs will ruin lives. And they do. Because the government ruins drug user’s lives by putting them away for often long amounts of time for a crime that harms no one but themselves. You own your body, not the government. I would support legislation, which would also be contrary to federal law, to decriminalize drug possession or use of any substance.
Civil forfeiture is essentially the process of the government stealing your property in the process of an investigation, often never returning it, while no charges have been filed. Sound illegal? It is not. This is a violation of the constitution and of someone’s individual rights but yet the process continues to happen.
Gerrymandering is the process of drawing legislative district lines to benefit your party unfairly. They can also used to protect incumbents through bipartisan gerrymandering. Presently, the controlling party in the Virginia assembly draws these district lines. I support a plan similar to the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission in California. The proposal shifts the powers to a multi-partisan appointed citizen body, whose meetings are open to the public and radically transparent.
One of the largest influences on corruption are the lack of term-limits for the General Assembly. Currently, members of the House of Delegates and the State Senate can serve as long as they want, as long as they keep winning re-election. I also support an Article V Convention for a Constitutional Amendment which would place term limits on Congress and limit federal power.
A lack of term limits present a large problem because it removes checks-and-balances. Seemingly, each election cycle would provide this. This is largely negated by gerrymandering, incumbency advantages, and candidates running unopposed. Gerrymandering allows many candidates to walk through elections simply based on the D or R next to their name, as the districts are constructed to be noncompetitive. Incumbents have large advantages in name recognition and fundraising abilities compared to their competition. It is very common for candidates to run unopposed in state and local races, as their is little motivation to run in long-shot districts. A solution to these problems are legislative term limits. Term limits prevent politicians from serving for decades and continuing to accept corporate bribes. It also allows politicians to act on their conscience and propose unconventional legislation because their jobs are not at stake and can’t be pushed out by party leaders. A new cycle of politicians with new ideas opposed to ones serving for forty years is change I definitely support.
Virginia is one of only five states that allows corporations to contribute unlimited amounts money to legislators or their campaigns (Daily Press). They also are one of thirteen states that allow individuals to contribute unbounded. This is a huge problem. Elections and politicians are being bought. They don’t serve you. They serve Dominion Energy. They serve Altria. They are voting with their money, and shutting people out of the process.
Politicians continually allowed to accept unbounded money presents numerous conflicts of interest. They know that if they vote a certain way on a certain bill, the money stops. With often hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, pleasing their donors becomes their number one priority, when it should be protecting the rights of their constituents.
If elected, I would introduce a bill that would cap state candidates from accepting more than $1000 per donor, per year.