Current Position: Health Care Navigator
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate
Source: Campaign page
Michele Joyce is a longtime resident of Smithfield where she and her husband have raised their two daughters. She is best described as a “problem solver.” Michele has a background in physics and has worked at Jefferson Lab as a computer scientist in Newport News, Virginia, for 20 years, writing software for the Lab’s particle accelerator. For the last decade, Michele has been a volunteer community leader and advocate, helping hundreds of residents in rural areas of HD-64 to find affordable access to health care.
Michele spent much of her childhood overseas (Iran, India and Indonesia) as the daughter of diplomat for the State Department. Her family moved back to the U.S. in time for her to complete high school in Northern Virginia. Michele graduated from William & Mary in 1993 with her B.S. in physics.
After witnessing a neighborhood family fall victim to a flawed health care system, she decided it was time to play an active role in helping folks in her community. Michele’s instinct was to help her community through engaging people. Her last decade of advocacy work has been guided by the belief that our democracy is stronger when everyone is engaged in the political process because we have more in common than different.
During her time as a community organizer, Michele fought and campaigned for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. When the full law was implemented in 2014, she became a volunteer Health Care Navigator, traveling throughout the District, educating the public about the new law, and helping over 100 families in Isle of Wight County, find quality, affordable health care.
In addition to her work as a health care navigator and community advocate, Michele has been actively involved with Smithfield Public Schools as a parent and is a board member for the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank. Michele, lives in Smithfield with her husband, Pete, daughter Hailey, a rising second year at UVA, daughter Julia, a rising junior at Smithfield High School and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sir Isaac Fig Newton.
Source: Campaign page
Michele believes affordable access to health care is a human right and has advocated for rural Virginians as a certified health care navigator for the last decade. HD-64 needs a delegate who is smart like Michele, who has been in the trenches securing health care for families.
When elected, Michele will make it a top priority to defend the Medicaid expansion she advocated for when working as a community organizer. Republicans use Medicaid as a bad word, but the truth is when we expanded Medicaid in 2018, it provided health care to over 2,000 residents right here in HD-64 (overall 300,000 across the Commonwealth) who didn’t previously have coverage, and at zero additional cost to our state budget. This is just one of the ways we can measurably improve lives in rural communities.
FARMING & SMALL BUSINESS
When elected, advocating for farmers (and small-business owners) will be a top priority for Michele. By starting with tax breaks, we can create greater opportunities for farmers within Virginia agribusiness and even position some to become part of corporate supply chains.
Additionally, we should be identifying ways for Virginia farmers to keep up with environmental trends without costing them a fortune or making them obsolete. Green jobs (like solar farms) and agritourism are two areas where HD-64 farmers can claim their slice of the booming Virginia economy.
As a mother of two daughters in school (Smithfield High School and UVA), Michele understands the concerns of students and their parents. Virginia has some of the best public universities in the country. By increasing the funding to community colleges and 4-year schools, Virginia can help prevent tuition increases that lead to more student loans, which prevent recent college graduates from being able to save or build for their future.
Michele will fight for additional funding to Virginia public schools. State per-pupil funding for K-12 education has seriously declined since 2008. Funding public schools is an investment in our children, the future, and upholds Virginia’s long standing ranking as a premier state for K-12 public education.
Also, college isn’t for everyone. We can help young people be citizen- and career-prepared by promoting apprentice programs with shipbuilding and specialty trades, opening up a career path in rural communities for folks who aren’t just looking for a job, but a long term plan to provide for their families.
As a proud, responsible gun owner, Michele is committed to upholding your Second Amendment rights. Michele is well versed in the importance of gun safety. And like the majority of Americans, she believes there are sensible gun safety measures that need to be implemented—like universal background checks.
Politicians, have a duty to protect your right to bear arms, but they also have a duty to ensure our children’s schools, our grocery stores, our churches, are free from gun violence. Framing this as a partisan issue is a cheap distraction—Michele will stand firm against Democrats trying to “take your guns.” Instead, her goal is and will remain, to keep our children and communities safe while continuing to uphold the Second Amendment.
JOBS & ECONOMY
While Virginia has some of the lowest unemployment numbers in the country, the challenge remains to bring well-paying jobs to rural communities like ours. By promoting apprentice programs with shipbuilding and specialty trades, we can create a career path for blue-collar workers in rural communities who aren’t just looking for a job, but a long term plan to provide for their families.
Additionally, we should be identifying ways for Virginia’s farmers to keep up with environmental trends without costing them a fortune or making them obsolete. Green jobs (like solar farms) and agritourism are two areas where HD-64 farmers can claim their piece of the booming Virginia economy.
Michele is proud to call Hampton Roads home—it’s where she and her husband Pete raised their daughters. Michele is a community leader who shares the values of folks of Smithfield, a warm, welcoming community that cares about its neighbors—that means embracing diversity and equality, knowing it makes us stronger. Hate has no home in HD-64.
Michele will stand firm against the racism and bigotry that are polluting our politics and communities today. HD-64 is a district known for its southern charm. We all have more in common than different. In today’s divisive climate we have an opportunity to be leaders and to strengthen our communities by replacing hate with kindness.
Virginians can do more to stop discrimination in the Commonwealth. It is long past time for equal rights to be recognized in our Constitution. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment 40+ years ago, but it was never ratified. Virginia has the opportunity to ratify the ERA, making equality a part of our Constitution, which is why it is critical we flip the State House.
Fighting for rural communities to have access to broadband internet is a central priority to Michele’s campaign and will remain a priority once elected. Access to broadband is not a luxury, but a necessity–a lack of access puts rural communities at a disadvantage. Michele will seek out innovative programs to bring reliable broadband to every resident in the 64th District.
In the meantime, we should explore more immediate and innovative forms of assistance. We can use our existing electrical infrastructure as a vehicle for expanding fiber optic cable. There are even pilot programs to use school buses as a Wi-Fi hotspot. These are just a few ways we can measurably improve the lives in rural communities.
Michele will stand up for rural Virginians by identifying creative solutions to solve food deserts. Food deserts are created when communities lack convenient access to grocery stores and fresh, local produce. Instead of incentivizing dollar stores to put a band-aid on a symptom, we should focus on economic expansion and farm-to-table programs that directly connect our farmers with consumers.
Families in rural communities should be provided the opportunity to feed their families fresh, local and healthy options, just like our neighbors in more urban or affluent areas. Through education programs, partnerships between farms and schools, and targeted tax incentives to major grocers, we can give rural communities the options they deserve.
SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
As a scientist, you can count on Michele to bring an evidence-based approach to decision making—especially as it relates to man-made climate change and environmental concerns that directly and significantly impact our quality of life, tourism and the larger economy of Hampton Roads.
Michele is best described as a “problem solver,” between her background in physics and decade as a healthcare navigator. When elected, she will continue to give a voice to rural Virginians without being a rubber stamp for a party agenda, instead leaning on her expertise to examine legislation, only supporting that which benefits the hard-working voters of HD-64.