Current Position: Teacher
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate
Source: Campaign page
These are the core life lessons that I have always tried to instill in my students and two young sons. As a public school educator of 16 years, my life’s work has been focused on building a community worthy for our children.
I grew up in New Jersey in a close knit family. My parents worked to provide for us and emphasized education as a door to new opportunities. My grandparents, who were WWII vets, were part of our Greatest Generation and served as a model of public service to me and showed me the importance of taking care of one another.
I came down to Virginia in the 1990s to attend the College of William & Mary. After graduating, I worked at a law firm in Washington, DC. While there, I served a 6-month rotation working for Neighborhood Legal Services. I will never forget representing people applying for their Social Security Disability benefits. Each client wanted to experience the dignity of work, but had simply reached a point where they were unable to work. That experience made me realize that any one of us may need our social safety net should hard times befall us. Soon after my rotation ended, I came to Charlottesville to study law at the University of Virginia. I spent about 2 years as a litigator in a big firm, but wanted to devote my career and time to making a difference in my community.
In 2003, I moved to New York City and began teaching high school. I felt at peace in the classroom and knew I had found my calling. I moved to Albemarle County with my wife, Beth, in 2005. I spent more than a decade teaching high school math and history there. Now, I’m an instructional coordinator at Greene County Public Schools, working with teachers to integrate innovative techniques into their classrooms to reach all children.
I have learned important lessons as an educator that I will bring with me when I am elected Delegate. First, public schools are places where we welcome every child into our classrooms regardless of their socioeconomic status, where they are from, or what they look like. Good elected officials do the same. They strive to represent every single constituent. Working in schools has also given me an understanding of the necessity of treating one another with respect and building relationships. Responsible representatives likewise treat colleagues and constituents respectfully, searching for common ground and working together to solve problems for the community.
Finally, I have worked tirelessly at being an educator. Teaching is an extraordinarily demanding profession intellectually and emotionally, but is also immensely rewarding. I will apply the same tireless work ethic in listening to and advocating for the people of the 59th District, and it would be the honor of my lifetime to represent you in our General Assembly.
P.O. Box 120, Batesville VA, 22942
Phone: (434) 260-1074
Source: Campaign page
RESTORING TRUST IN DEMOCRACY
In the United States of America and in the Commonwealth of Virginia, representatives should work for the people. Not the other way around. But establishment politicians are maintaining their power over us by drawing themselves into gerrymandered districts, oppressing voting rights, and raking in large amounts of money from corporate interests. I will stand up to all of these undemocratic, corrupt practices. I will support a non-partisan commission to draw voting districts. I will continue the great American tradition of the expansion of voting rights by enacting common sense measures like no-excuse early voting and automatic voter registration. And I will never take donations from for-profit corporations, their PACs, or their trade associations. We need to restore power to the people of Virginia.
PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
We are at a crossroads. Our planet is at risk, and we are not taking sufficient care of it. There is now scientific consensus that our recklessness is threatening our children’s future and things are quickly getting away from us. The world is rapidly transitioning to renewable energies, but instead of taking the lead, America is making empty promises about going back to coal and building fracked gas pipelines that will be obsolete in under a decade. Renewable energies are cheaper and cleaner. They will save us money and preserve this planet for generations to come.
In Virginia, Dominion Energy is the single largest corporate donor to state politicians, so it is not surprising that the political establishment is mostly ignoring our environmental and energy crisis. While scientists are issuing dire warnings and other countries are investing in cheap, clean renewable energies, the Commonwealth is focused on building fossil fuel infrastructure. The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines represent everything that is wrong with Virginia politics. To be clear, there is no need for these pipelines. None. The companies building them will be selling the gas for a profit to their own subsidiaries or to companies overseas. Meanwhile, consumers will be left with the bill.
Here in the heart of the 59th District is a neighborhood called Union Hill in Buckingham County. It was founded by freedmen after the Civil War. Descendants of the freedman still live there today. This neighborhood is where Dominion is trying to build a massive, loud, toxic compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion initially was going to try to build the compressor station on U.S. Forest Land, but it was deemed too toxic for the wildlife living there. To then move the proposed site to Union Hill was simply unconscionable.
We need to advocate for environmental justice here in the 59th. With a grassroots effort rising from the people of this district, we are going to hold corporations and the political establishment accountable. Dominion may have tried to choose the path of least resistance. If so, they were wrong. The people here in the 59th will stand up for our children, our land, and our values. As a Delegate, I certainly will.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
As someone who has spent 16 years in public education, I believe that we can build the best schools in the world right here in Central Virginia. Currently, our local community public schools are overregulated and underfunded. As your Delegate, I will move us away from standardization and instead empower our teachers and schools. I’ll work to ensure that every child has the opportunity to engage in their learning, connect to our community, and prepare for the real world. I will support increases in the state share of school funding so that rural school divisions have more flexibility in their budgets. I will support increases in pay for our teachers so that we can recruit and retain the most highly qualified people in our community to teach our kids. I also believe we need to invest in workforce development to train people looking for work in emerging job markets like green energy and cybersecurity and in traditional job markets like construction and manufacturing. Education is a fundamental and critical investment in our children, our economy, and our community that I will work to support and protec.t
EXPANDING RURAL BROADBAND
Broadband internet is key to new economic growth. It is unacceptable that we have large areas in the 59th District where people have no access to the internet. It is not uncommon for rural residents to have to rely on local businesses or public libraries to connect to the internet. We need to change that. Just as we did in the 1930s and 1940s with rural electrification, we need to provide rural Americans with the opportunity to live the American Dream.
With broadband, people can search and interview for jobs. People can work from home. Kids can do homework. Entrepreneurs can start businesses or sell products. Families can do their shopping and pay their bills. Businesses are much more likely to invest and stay in communities with broadband internet. Without broadband, people are at a huge disadvantage. They are disconnected from our economy and our society. Their kids are more likely to leave for other areas. Businesses and their employees will shutter their doors and leave.
Having access to broadband in every corner of our Commonwealth is now an essential part of opportunity in America. At the state level, I will fight to fully fund sources of revenue to expand broadband, including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Center for Innovative Technology, and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. At the local level, I will work with our economic development and broadband authorities to support the public private partnerships they are forging to expand high speed internet. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen right away. But it must happen. Access to broadband internet is critical to our area’s economic development and competitiveness.
PROTECTING YOUR HEALTHCARE
Every family deserves the peace of mind that comes along with having health insurance. Every small business should be allowed to focus on executing its business plan rather than worrying about their employees’ health insurance plans. Every working American should to be free to move jobs or start a new business without fear of losing their employer-based health insurance. But for too many members of our community, this is not the reality.
Many American families are one medical incident away from bankruptcy. The United States spends far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. Corporate funded politicians have convinced people that only those who work should have health insurance. That’s totally backwards. Having health insurance empowers people to work.
In 2018, the people of Virginia won a great victory when the Commonwealth expanded Medicaid. We reclaimed billions of our tax dollars from the federal government. We are now extending health insurance to nearly 400,000 more Virginians. We’re giving our teachers and law enforcement officers long overdue raises. We are shoring up our reserve funds and solidifying our AAA bond rating. But we still have a long way to go.
I will fight for 5 improvements to our healthcare system in Virginia.
1) I will protect Virginians with preexisting conditions by abolishing junk health care plans.
2) I will hold the Bureau of Insurance accountable for doing its job in enforcing existing laws.
3) I will support the elimination of any Medicaid work requirements forced upon consumers.
4) I will support a public option in the ACA Individual Market.
5) I will support legislation to prevent surprise out-of-network billing for emergency and in-patient services.
Ultimately, though, we need to recognize that every American should have health insurance as a basic right. People’s lives and health shouldn’t depend on their wealth. We cannot go back to a time where people are denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. Our current system- one where too many are forced to go to emergency rooms after an illness or injury has gotten out of hand rather than seeking early treatment- is nonsensical. It costs more money to maintain the status quo than it would to provide universal health care. This is an easy decision. Providing universal health care is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES
The 59th District contains its fair share of hunters and other law-abiding gun owners. And most of them agree that we must insist on responsible gun ownership. I believe in common-sense measures that have broad support across communities. For instance, every Virginian should undergo a background check before purchasing a gun. A simple background check requirement has been effective in other states. In fact, states that have universal background checks have roughly half the rate of gun violence against law enforcement officers, almost half the number of gun suicides and almost half the number of women shot and killed by domestic partners. Almost everyone also agrees that people with serious mental illness should not be purchasing firearms and that neither people with felony records nor domestic abusers should be buying guns. People are also starting to recognize that we need to listen to families and household members when they petition courts to temporarily remove firearms from those who are acting in a way that indicates they may carry out a shooting. This is just good sense. Devices like bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines are unnecessary and are endangering our communities. I will work to implement measures that will reduce gun violence while still respecting the 2nd Amendment. Every family has a guaranteed right to life and liberty.
SUPPORTING THOSE WHO PROTECT US
Our law enforcement officers have some of the toughest, most stressful, and often thankless jobs in the Commonwealth. I will work to support and protect these officers. For instance, Virginia should provide a presumption of disability to our correctional officers when they apply for workers’ compensation. Right now, 13 of Virginia’s 14 categories of law enforcement officers get that presumption. The one exception is correctional officers. Correctional officers go to work everyday in unimaginably dangerous conditions. One false move could mean the difference between life and death. So if they have a heart attack, why would we not presume it to be a result of their working conditions? Closing this loophole is just one example of how we can better respect the important work that they do. We also need to provide our law enforcement with the resources and training necessary to meaningfully connect to the people they serve, encouraging the building of trust so that we can better safeguard our community.
I am proud of the ways that Virginia supports our men and women in uniform and our veterans. Programs like our Troops to Teachers program and our Military Medics and Corpsmen Program provide opportunities for our veterans to transition into our classrooms and our healthcare industry. I will work to continue funding for these programs. Virginia has also led the nation in reducing veteran homelessness, but it is an ongoing problem that we must continue to address.
Those who serve and protect us deserve our support. I honor the work that our law enforcement does and am humbled by our service members’ readiness to sacrifice everything for our freedoms.
SUPPORTING WORKERS & SMALL BUSINESSES
I believe that small businesses and workers are the backbone of the American economy. It also seems plain to me that large, powerful corporations are exerting massively disproportionate political and economic power over our lives. This power is distorting our free markets, hurting small businesses and workers, corrupting our politics, and fueling unsustainable economic inequality. It is ultimately anti-competitive and harmful to our well-being as a nation.
As your Delegate, I will support policies that encourage entrepreneurship and allow small businesses to grow. For instance, I will support the zeroing out of BPOL taxes on small business for the first three to five years of their existence. I will work with small businesses to cut back on the sometimes heavy hand of Virginia ABC and other regulatory agencies. I’ll support legalization of marijuana. We should tax it, regulate it, and allow small businesses to grow in that market. I’ll support expanding broadband internet to every corner of the Commonwealth so businesses can feel safe investing in all of our communities.
I will tirelessly protect workers’ rights. I support a living wage. When we have CEOs earning hundreds of times what their average workers make, it is plain that a living wage would not drive big corporations out of business. It would simply force executives to cut their already bloated compensation allowing us to start getting a handle on extreme economic inequality and stagnant real wage growth.
I hear from conservatives and liberals alike that there is far too much corporate money in politics. So let me be clear. I won’t take any donations from for-profit corporations, their trade associations, or their PACs. None. My campaign will be entirely based on grassroots organizations and individuals who want to promote true economic justice.
Working in public schools everyday, I see teachers standing at their doors welcoming all students into their classrooms. I see coaches instilling teamwork and camaraderie in their players. I see the diversity that defines us as Americans. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Hate, bigotry, and fear-mongering should have no place in our community. I embrace the values I have always instilled in my students: respect, kindness, humility, and togetherness.
That’s why I support policies that will help us to dismantle systemic racism. For example, I support universal pre-K, eliminating cash bail, legalizing marijuana, expanding voting rights, eliminating gerrymandering, and ending mass incarceration.
I will protect reproductive rights in America and in the Commonwealth. The right to control reproductive decisions is central to an individual’s autonomy and humanity. That’s why I will support the Whole Woman’s Health Act. I will also support ratification of a federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) when the General Assembly reintroduces it as legislation in 2020.
I believe that love is love. I am troubled by discriminatory attitudes and policies that are harming our LGBTQ loved ones and neighbors. For instance, I believe the military transgender ban makes our country less safe. If you want to serve and fight for our rights, then we ought to honor your courage and thank you heartily for it. I will reject any discriminatory bathroom bills as well as any legislation meant to make it more difficult for same sex couples to marry or build a family.
In short, I will work to support the vision laid out in our pledge of allegiance for a society that is “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”