Our Priorities

Our campaign is about bringing Virginia into a new decade of progress by building an equitable, 21st century economy for the Commonwealth. As a dentist, I see improving public health as the central issue that touches all others. From housing affordability to women’s empowerment, to education and criminal justice, my ultimate goal is to create healthier, happier, and more efficient communities. I’m working to build the winning coalition to do just that, and make Virginia a better place for all by lifting up those at the margins.

Healthcare

I firmly believe that healthcare should be a human right. Instead, quality healthcare in Virginia is too often a privilege for those who can afford it. Despite the fact that we live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, almost half of all Americans say that they or an immediate family member had to skip out on serious medical care in the past year because they could not afford it. The culprits of this suffering are private insurance companies, pharmaceutical interests, and large hospital networks that are more interested in making a profit than they are serving everyone.

In the 2020 legislative session, I was proud to be the only legislator to put forward a plan to provide affordable, universal healthcare coverage for all in the Commonwealth. I also introduced a resolution calling on Congress to allow individual states to pursue their own single-payer healthcare system. Evidence from around the world shows that single-payer healthcare is the gold standard of delivering efficient, low-cost care without leaving anyone behind.

As the price of prescription drugs like insulin skyrocket nationwide, those who don’t have the money to afford it are forced to simply face their illness without pharmaceuticals. That is wrong. I cosponsored legislation that caps insulin copays at extremely affordable rates in Virginia. I also helped lead the effort to crack down on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that hurt patients and pharmacies through bad business practices.

Investing in mental health services, especially in our public schools, needs to become a bipartisan objective in Virginia. I introduced legislation that would provide mental health break spaces in Virginia’s schools, so students have a safe space to decompress or deal with symptoms of their mental health condition. Alongside this, we need to make sure our services are accessible for people of all backgrounds, especially LGBTQ people, who suffer disproportionately from mental health issues. We also need to understand the direct correlation between mental health and poverty, discrimination, and isolation, and tackle those issues head-on.

I’m a medical professional, which means I know that reproductive and contraceptive care is healthcare. Despite constant pushback from the far-right, I will always be a champion for increased access to reproductive care like abortion. We made great strides in 2020 on rolling back unnecessary restrictions on the right to choose. Now the task should be to pursue true equity by ensuring that abortion is covered at no cost under both public and private insurance plans.

My office recognizes the physical and mental health gaps around motherhood and is dedicated to closing them. I created legislation that would allow pregnant Virginians to get their pregnancy covered despite the timing of insurance enrollement periods. I also brought forward a bill that would put greater emphasis on screening for pre- and post-natal depression for mothers when they visit their primary and specialty care providers.

Housing

Affordable housing is a critical issue that is often ignored by politicians of both parties. The economic consensus is clear that where you live, down to the exact neighborhood and block, often determines your social and economic outcomes. That’s because housing not only decides your health and stability but your physical access to good jobs, quality schools, healthy food options, public transit, and other crucial services. It is for this reason that racial and economic segregation presents generational disadvantages to communities across Virginia.

In Virginia and across the country, there is a growing shortage of affordable, available homes. Northern Virginia is hit particularly hard by this shortage. Continued economic and job growth is not being met with new affordable housing construction, especially in the desirable neighborhoods that need it the most. A key culprit of this lack of new, affordable housing is exclusionary zoning that acts as a ban on higher-density housing types. Exclusionary zoning practices, particularly single-family zoning, make it extremely hard to create new multi-family “Missing Middle” homes, which are proven to be less expensive, better for the environment, and more accessible to marginalized communities. Instead, new housing development is relegated to the far suburbs, pushing low-income people farther away from job centers, increasing car and highway dependency, and damaging Virginia’s natural environment. Plus, the scarcity of housing units in those job-centers translates to ever-rising rents for existing residents.

I was the first politician in Virginia’s history to propose state-wide zoning reform. In the 2020 legislative session, I introduced HB151 and HB152, which would have legalized the development of two-family housing types, like duplexes, townhouses, and Accessory Dwelling Units across the Commonwealth. This would allow the housing market to create more of this Missing Middle housing because zoning rules wouldn't stand as an undue barrier. It would also make local governments think twice before zoning out new sprawling suburban development, and instead lean on the benefits density. Not only does density promote affordability by increasing the supply of housing units, but it’s also better for the environment, combats the legacy of neighborhood segregation, facilitates better public transit, and makes for a more connected local and regional economy.

Outside of zoning reform, there are other approaches we can take to make affordable housing a reality for all. Some proposals I support include:

  • Allowing local governments to build and rent out social housing units that are mandated to be low-rent and high-quality.
  • Instituting anti-gouging or rent cap rules that ensure landlords can’t continue to price-out their own tenants with drastic rent increases.
  • Increasing funding for Virginia’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which assists affordable housing projects across the Commonwealth.
  • Education

    Every Virginian wants a quality education for their child - it’s the building block on which a lifetime of success can be built. But for many, getting access to even the opportunity to succeed can be near impossible. My long-term vision is to create a Virginia where a child can receive a world-class education from pre-K to college regardless of their family’s income, race, zip code, ability, or citizenship status. That will require large investments in schools at the state level, so students in historically underinvested communities can still go to quality, productive schools.

    Empowering our public school teachers is a sure way to improve educational outcomes in Virginia. While the General Assembly was able to secure a 5% pay raise for teachers in 2019, we are still behind the target. Virginia has to offer a competitive salary to ensure that teachers can focus on teaching rather than worrying about making ends meet. We also have to protect and expand teacher’s rights to use collective bargaining to secure better pay, conditions, and benefits.

    Building an Economy for All Virginians

    Last year, Virginia was ranked the best state to do business by CNBC. At the same time, we were ranked the worst state for workers’ prosperity by Oxfam. These two rankings are not a coincidence. For years, a focus on making Virginia “business-friendly” has been a smokescreen for pushing through ultra-conservative reforms that take political and economic power away from working families and give it increasingly to corporate giants that want to squeeze their workers for all they are worth. My economic vision acknowledges that our economy is stronger, our productivity is higher, and our public health is better when everyone is cared for.

    To that end, I helped pass Virginia’s first minimum wage increase in over a decade, which puts the Commonwealth on the path to $15 an hour in the near future. But I know that we can’t stop there. One of the biggest roadblocks to workers’ prosperity in Virginia is our “Right-to-Work” law. Despite the fact that labor unions are the best way to achieve higher wages, better conditions, and better benefits for our workers, so-called “Right-to-Work” is deliberately designed to make it hard for Virginians to organize in the workplace. I am prepared to take on the financial interests in both parties to repeal this archaic law.

    I also introduced a bill in the 2020 legislation session that would crack down on the illegal practice of wage theft. Every year, employers steal billions of dollars from their employees, for example, by failing to pay overtime rates, violating minimum wage laws, or underreporting hours. I will continue fighting to make sure Virginia can practically and effectively enforce wage theft laws, and ensure all stolen wages are returned to the workers who earned them.

    It makes no sense that paid family and sick leave is not guaranteed in Virginia. The COVID-19 outbreak has put a spotlight on the necessity of this policy. When workers are sick, they often come to work anyway because they can’t risk the missed paycheck. By ensuring paid leave for all, we promote public health and economic stability, and provide working families with an avenue to deal with family or health challenges without risking financial ruin.

    Virginia’s tax code is yet another example of big business and the ultra-wealthy getting the upper hand. We need a long-overdue revamp of our tax code to ensure that every Virginian is paying their fair share, and to ensure that the Commonwealth is bringing in enough revenue to provide the essential services and programs that Virginians rely on and lift up those at the margins of our economy.

    Environment

    The climate crisis is here. The experts warn that we are woefully unprepared. The United Nations’ top scientists have given humanity 11 years to drastically reverse course, or face irreparable harm from climate change. That means we’ve already missed our window for half-measures and small ideas. To preserve our clean air and water, improve public health, and bring our energy grid and infrastructure into the 21st century, we need an authentically Virginian Green New Deal: a legislative plan of action to begin the economic transition to a decarbonized Commonwealth.

    The diverse communities of Virginia make the case for a Green New Deal themselves. Virginia’s Tidewater region faces increased threat from sea-level rise and increasingly dangerous storms and hurricanes. Appalachian communities that are reliant on coal and natural gas industries are in desperate need of an energy sector transition that can reinvigorate the economy. And in Union Hill, a historically black community, a textbook example of environmental racism is transpiring as major fossil-fuel peddlers are working to build a pipeline compressor station that will target the community with pollution.

    The Green New Deal would work to provide a just transition for those disproportionately impacted by climate change. That means:

    • An education and jobs program that will retrain marginalized communities to work in good paying jobs in the renewable energy sector as part of a state-wide effort to rapidly eclipse fossil fuels with green energy production.
    • Significant investments in clean public transit like buses, trains, light-rail, and accommodation for bikes and pedestrians.
    • The immediate blockage of all dirty energy infrastructure projects like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.
    • Updates to Virginia’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and water systems to ensure that frontline communities in coastal regions can be resilient to the effects of a changing climate.
    • A focus on research and development to utilize Virginia’s growing tech sector to be a global leader in renewable energy technology.
    • Protecting and honoring Virginia’s parks, forests, waterways, and public green spaces that promote healthier communities, preserve biodiversity, and bring in millions of dollars in state revenue through tourism.

    Criminal Justice

    The “tough-on-crime” approach to criminal justice has been a massive failure. Instead of reducing crime, it has led to the mass incarceration of people of color and low-income people. I favor an approach to criminal justice that is both rehabilitative and restorative, where we address crime by attacking its socio-economic roots rather than the communities it harms.

    One of the best ways to begin to end mass incarceration would be to legalize marijuana for adult-use in Virginia, and expunge past convictions that have historically targeted Black and Latino communities. While states across the country have seen impressive results from legalization efforts, Virginia continues to arrest more and more people for marijuana possession each year. This clogs up our criminal justice system and creates financial and legal complications for thousands of young people who have done nothing wrong.

    Reforming or ending cash bail entirely should be a top priority for criminal justice reform. Too often, Virginians who have never been convicted of a crime are sent to jail simply because they are poor. That time spent in jail away from their job and their home often puts families through financial ruin. A justice system where your personal wealth decides the privileges you get is not one that can be called fair.

    Other criminal justice priorities include:

    • Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline by reforming discipline and law enforcement practices in schools and recognizing racial discrimination.
    • Ending the use of private prisons in the Virginia justice system.
    • Raising the felony larceny threshold so the law can’t be used against low-level offenders who are most often low-income and people of color.
    • Banning the practice of solitary confinement in Virginia’s prisons.
    • Abolishing the death penalty in Virgini.
    • Reimagining juvenile detention to be a community-centered, rehabilitative experience by ensuring child offenders are housed in facilities near their families that offer educational and economic opportunities.
    • Holding law enforcement accountable for wrong-doing.

    Women's Empowerment

    The Equal Rights Amendment will finally clear the legal avenues to achieve gender pay equity for the entire nation. The gravity being, that of thirty-eight states required to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and after half a century of activism in the face of gridlock, Virginia could be the deciding vote in 2019.

    In Virginia, all factors considered, Latinx women make 53 cents to a white man’s dollar. African-American women earn 59 cents to that dollar, while white women earn 79 cents. That pay gap is the effect of pervasive racism and sexism in the job market without adequate mechanisms of law to bring disparity to justice in the courts. In the next era of Democratic leadership in Virginia, we will ratify the ERA and achieve equal pay for all.

    I’m a medical professional, which means I know that reproductive and contraceptive care is healthcare. As states across the nation crack down on the constitutional right to choose, Virginia should lead the way in affordable and accessible abortion and other vital reproductive care. That means permanently codifying Roe v. Wade into law in Virginia to ensure that this fundamental right is not infringed. It also means working to eventually cover the cost of essential reproductive care under medicaid as well as private insurance.

    Gun Safety

    For far too long, politicians who are bought-and-sold by the NRA and gun manufacturers have controlled the agenda on gun safety. We have had to endure years of inaction as our communities suffer every day from senseless, preventable violence. I pledge to support a suite of reforms that can preserve the right to gun ownership while making historic progress on curbing gun violence in Virginia. These reforms include:

    • Universal, mandatory background checks on all firearm purchases
    • A ban on assault-style weapons that are frequently used in mass murders
    • Red Flag laws that can stop shootings before they happen
    • A ban on high capacity magazines, bump stocks, and silencers
    • Meaningful waiting periods for firearm purchases
    • Child Access Prevention mandates that can reduce accidental deaths

    Transportation

    Transportation is often overlooked because it doesn’t seem as exciting as other issues. But I know that for my constituents in Northern Virginia, transportation is a top concern that they have to deal with on a daily basis. The traffic problem in Northern Virginia continues to be unbearable for many, turning what should be quick trips into frustrating experiences. Alongside traffic concerns, the transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions and climate change. It’s also an issue of equity: underinvested neighborhoods, often communities of color, continually lack the mobility they need to get to work or to get to other amenities they rely on.

    The knee-jerk reaction to these problems is what we’ve seen for the past 70 years in America: more highways, wider roads, and more reliance on cars. I am here to tell Virginia the hard truth: a seamless, equitable, environmentally friendly transportation network is one that begins to move away from car dependency rather than exasperating it.

    We need large-scale investments in public transit like trains and buses to better connect the metropolitan areas of Virginia. But outside of funding, there is much more we can do to strengthen our non-car transportation options. We need to reimagine our built environment with a focus on people and density in order to facilitate a variety of transportation options like trains and buses, but also bikes, scooters, and walking. A key to accomplishing that is providing more affordable housing options in the neighborhoods where people actually want to live and work. If we were to end exclusionary zoning, Virginians could find affordable homes closer to non-car transit options, which in turn would facilitate more efficient transit projects for the future. Communities that use density to reduce car dependency are proven to promote public health, economic mobility, and reduce carbon emissions.

    Democracy

    I strongly believe that we need to do everything we can to increase ballot access and voter turnout. In many ways, our democratic system has been distorted by both state and federal level Republicans who have rigged elections in their favor. Look no further than gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and discriminatory election administration to see these insidious efforts. Plus, this election rigging almost always targets people of color and other marginalized communities. I will work to roll back voter disenfranchisement and ensure voting is a right for all in Virginia.

    One of the best ways to open up our elections to marginalized people would be to adopt automatic voter registration. AVR would modernize the voting system to ensure that voter registration doesn’t continue to serve as a significant barrier to American citizens exercising their right to vote. Whenever a Virginian interacts with state agencies, they would be registered to vote while given the chance to opt-out.

    Partisan gerrymandering at the state and federal level must be stopped. Communities deserve representatives that come from and answer to the place where they live. I support the formation of an independent redistricting commission that would be a check on the redistricting process and ensure extreme partisans cannot weaponize the process.

    The Electoral College is an outdated institution that creates an undemocratic system for deciding who holds the most important office in the land. I believe that the candidate who gets the most votes should win an election. That’s why I gladly support entering Virginia into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would pledge our electoral college votes to whoever wins the popular vote in presidential elections.

    Virginia’s policy of felony dienfranchisement is, quite frankly, a legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era. We must finally join 47 other states and restore the right to vote to ex-felons, who are overwhelmingly people of color.

    I firmly believe that healthcare should be a human right. Instead, quality healthcare in Virginia is too often a privilege for those who can afford it. Despite the fact that we live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, almost half of all Americans say that they or an immediate family member had to skip out on serious medical care in the past year because they could not afford it. The culprits of this suffering are private insurance companies, pharmaceutical interests, and large hospital networks that are more interested in making a profit than they are serving everyone.

    In the 2020 legislative session, I was proud to be the only legislator to put forward a plan to provide affordable, universal healthcare coverage for all in the Commonwealth. I also introduced a resolution calling on Congress to allow individual states to pursue their own single-payer healthcare system. Evidence from around the world shows that single-payer healthcare is the gold standard of delivering efficient, low-cost care without leaving anyone behind.

    As the price of prescription drugs like insulin skyrocket nationwide, those who don’t have the money to afford it are forced to simply face their illness without pharmaceuticals. That is wrong. I cosponsored legislation that caps insulin copays at extremely affordable rates in Virginia. I also helped lead the effort to crack down on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that hurt patients and pharmacies through bad business practices.

    Investing in mental health services, especially in our public schools, needs to become a bipartisan objective in Virginia. I introduced legislation that would provide mental health break spaces in Virginia’s schools, so students have a safe space to decompress or deal with symptoms of their mental health condition. Alongside this, we need to make sure our services are accessible for people of all backgrounds, especially LGBTQ people, who suffer disproportionately from mental health issues. We also need to understand the direct correlation between mental health and poverty, discrimination, and isolation, and tackle those issues head-on.

    I’m a medical professional, which means I know that reproductive and contraceptive care is healthcare. Despite constant pushback from the far-right, I will always be a champion for increased access to reproductive care like abortion. We made great strides in 2020 on rolling back unnecessary restrictions on the right to choose. Now the task should be to pursue true equity by ensuring that abortion is covered at no cost under both public and private insurance plans.

    My office recognizes the physical and mental health gaps around motherhood and is dedicated to closing them. I created legislation that would allow pregnant Virginians to get their pregnancy covered despite the timing of insurance enrollement periods. I also brought forward a bill that would put greater emphasis on screening for pre- and post-natal depression for mothers when they visit their primary and specialty care providers.

    Affordable housing is a critical issue that is often ignored by politicians of both parties. The economic consensus is clear that where you live, down to the exact neighborhood and block, often determines your social and economic outcomes. That’s because housing not only decides your health and stability but your physical access to good jobs, quality schools, healthy food options, public transit, and other crucial services. It is for this reason that racial and economic segregation presents generational disadvantages to communities across Virginia.

    In Virginia and across the country, there is a growing shortage of affordable, available homes. Northern Virginia is hit particularly hard by this shortage. Continued economic and job growth is not being met with new affordable housing construction, especially in the desirable neighborhoods that need it the most. A key culprit of this lack of new, affordable housing is exclusionary zoning that acts as a ban on higher-density housing types. Exclusionary zoning practices, particularly single-family zoning, make it extremely hard to create new multi-family “Missing Middle” homes, which are proven to be less expensive, better for the environment, and more accessible to marginalized communities. Instead, new housing development is relegated to the far suburbs, pushing low-income people farther away from job centers, increasing car and highway dependency, and damaging Virginia’s natural environment. Plus, the scarcity of housing units in those job-centers translates to ever-rising rents for existing residents.

    I was the first politician in Virginia’s history to propose state-wide zoning reform. In the 2020 legislative session, I introduced HB151 and HB152, which would have legalized the development of two-family housing types, like duplexes, townhouses, and Accessory Dwelling Units across the Commonwealth. This would allow the housing market to create more of this Missing Middle housing because zoning rules wouldn’t stand as an undue barrier. It would also make local governments think twice before zoning out new sprawling suburban development, and instead lean on the benefits density. Not only does density promote affordability by increasing the supply of housing units, but it’s also better for the environment, combats the legacy of neighborhood segregation, facilitates better public transit, and makes for a more connected local and regional economy.

    Outside of zoning reform, there are other approaches we can take to make affordable housing a reality for all. Some proposals I support include:

     

    • Allowing local governments to build and rent out social housing units that are mandated to be low-rent and high-quality.
    • Instituting anti-gouging or rent cap rules that ensure landlords can’t continue to price-out their own tenants with drastic rent increases.
    • Increasing funding for Virginia’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which assists affordable housing projects across the Commonwealth.

     

    The climate crisis is here. Experts warn that we are woefully unprepared. The United Nations’ top scientists have given humanity 11 years to drastically reverse course, or face irreparable harm from climate change. That means we’ve already missed our window for half-measures and small ideas. To preserve our clean air and water, improve public health, and bring our energy grid and infrastructure into the 21st century, we need an authentically Virginian Green New Deal: a legislative plan of action to begin the economic transition to a decarbonized Commonwealth.

    The diverse communities of Virginia make the case for a Green New Deal themselves. Virginia’s Tidewater region faces increased threat from sea-level rise and increasingly dangerous storms and hurricanes. Appalachian communities that are reliant on coal and natural gas industries are in desperate need of an energy sector transition that can reinvigorate the economy. And in Union Hill, a historically black community, a textbook example of environmental racism is transpiring as major fossil-fuel peddlers are working to build a pipeline compressor station that will target the community with pollution.

    The Green New Deal would work to provide a just transition for those disproportionately impacted by climate change. That means:

    • An education and jobs program that will retrain marginalized communities to work in good-paying jobs in the renewable energy sector as part of a state-wide effort to rapidly eclipse fossil fuels with green energy production.
    • Significant investments in clean public transit like buses, trains, light-rail, and accommodation for bikes and pedestrians.
    • The immediate blockage of all dirty energy infrastructure projects like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.
    • Updates to Virginia’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and water systems to ensure that frontline communities in coastal regions can be resilient to the effects of a changing climate.
    • A focus on research and development to utilize Virginia’s growing tech sector to be a global leader in renewable energy technology.
    • Protecting and honoring Virginia’s parks, forests, waterways, and public green spaces that promote healthier communities, preserve biodiversity, and bring in millions of dollars in state revenue through tourism.

    Last year, Virginia was ranked the best state to do business by CNBC. At the same time, we were ranked the worst state for workers’ prosperity by Oxfam. These two rankings are not a coincidence. For years, a focus on making Virginia “business-friendly” has been a smokescreen for pushing through ultra-conservative reforms that take political and economic power away from working families and give it increasingly to corporate giants that want to squeeze their workers for all they are worth. My economic vision acknowledges that our economy is stronger, our productivity is higher, and our public health is better when everyone is cared for.

    To that end, I helped pass Virginia’s first minimum wage increase in over a decade, which puts the Commonwealth on the path to $15 an hour in the near future. But I know that we can’t stop there. One of the biggest roadblocks to workers’ prosperity in Virginia is our “Right-to-Work” law. Despite the fact that labor unions are the best way to achieve higher wages, better conditions, and better benefits for our workers, so-called “Right-to-Work” is deliberately designed to make it hard for Virginians to organize in the workplace. I am prepared to take on the financial interests in both parties to repeal this archaic law.

    I also introduced a bill in the 2020 legislation session that would crack down on the illegal practice of wage theft. Every year, employers steal billions of dollars from their employees, for example, by failing to pay overtime rates, violating minimum wage laws, or underreporting hours. I will continue fighting to make sure Virginia can practically and effectively enforce wage theft laws, and ensure all stolen wages are returned to the workers who earned them.

    It makes no sense that paid family and sick leave is not guaranteed in Virginia. The COVID-19 outbreak has put a spotlight on the necessity of this policy. When workers are sick, they often come to work anyway because they can’t risk the missed paycheck. By ensuring paid leave for all, we promote public health and economic stability, and provide working families with an avenue to deal with family or health challenges without risking financial ruin.

    Virginia’s tax code is yet another example of big business and the ultra-wealthy getting the upper hand. We need a long-overdue revamp of our tax code to ensure that every Virginian is paying their fair share, and to ensure that the Commonwealth is bringing in enough revenue to provide the essential services and programs that Virginians rely on and lift up those at the margins of our economy.

    Every Virginian wants a quality education for their child – it’s the building block on which a lifetime of success can be built. But for many, getting access to even the opportunity to succeed can be near impossible. My long-term vision is to create a Virginia where a child can receive a world-class education from pre-K to college regardless of their family’s income, race, zip code, ability, or citizenship status. That will require large investments in schools at the state level, so students in historically under-invested communities can still go to quality, productive schools.

    Empowering our public school teachers is a sure way to improve educational outcomes in Virginia. While the General Assembly was able to secure a 5% pay raise for teachers in 2019, we are still behind target. Virginia has to offer a competitive salary to ensure that teachers can focus on teaching rather than worrying about making ends meet. We also have to protect and expand teacher’s rights to use collective bargaining to secure better pay, conditions, and benefits.

    The “tough-on-crime” approach to criminal justice has been a massive failure. Instead of reducing crime, it has led to the mass incarceration of people of color and low-income people. I favor an approach to criminal justice that is both rehabilitative and restorative, where we address crime by attacking its socio-economic roots rather than the communities it harms.

    One of the best ways to begin to end mass incarceration would be to legalize marijuana for adult-use in Virginia and expunge past convictions that have historically targeted Black and Latino communities. While states across the country have seen impressive results from legalization efforts, Virginia continues to arrest more and more people for marijuana possession each year. This clogs up our criminal justice system and creates financial and legal complications for thousands of young people who have done nothing wrong.

    Reforming or ending cash bail entirely should be a top priority for criminal justice reform. Too often, Virginians who have never been convicted of a crime are sent to jail simply because they are poor. That time spent in jail away from their job and their home often puts families through financial ruin. A justice system where your wealth decides the privileges you get is not one that can be called fair.

    Other criminal justice priorities include:

    • Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline by reforming discipline and law enforcement practices in schools and recognizing racial discrimination.
    • Ending the use of private prisons in the Virginia justice system.
    • Raising the felony larceny threshold so the law can’t be used against low-level offenders who are most often low-income and people of color.
    • Banning the practice of solitary confinement in Virginia’s prisons.
    • Abolishing the death penalty in Virginia.
    • Reimagining juvenile detention to be a community-centered, rehabilitative experience by ensuring child offenders are housed in facilities near their families that offer educational and economic opportunities.
    • Holding law-enforcement accountable for wrong-doing.

    The Equal Rights Amendment will finally clear the legal avenues to achieve gender pay equity for the entire nation. The gravity being, that of thirty-eight states required to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and after half a century of activism in the face of gridlock, Virginia could be the deciding vote in 2019.
    In Virginia, all factors considered, Latinx women make 53 cents to a white man’s dollar. African-American women earn 59 cents to that dollar, while white women earn 79 cents. That pay gap is the effect of pervasive racism and sexism in the job market without adequate mechanisms of law to bring disparity to justice in the courts. In the next era of Democratic leadership in Virginia, we will ratify the ERA and achieve equal pay for all.
    I’m a medical professional, which means I know that reproductive and contraceptive care is healthcare. As states across the country crack down on the constitutional right to choose, Virginia should lead the way in affordable and accessible abortion and other vital reproductive care. That means permanently codifying Roe v. Wade into law in Virginia to ensure that this fundamental right is not infringed. It also means working to eventually cover the cost of essential reproductive care under Medicaid as well as private insurance.

    For far too long, politicians who are bought-and-sold by the NRA and gun manufacturers have controlled the agenda on gun safety. We have had to endure years of inaction as our communities suffer every day from senseless, preventable violence. I pledge to support a suite of reforms that can preserve the right to gun ownership while making historic progress on curbing gun violence in Virginia. These reforms include:

    • Universal, mandatory background checks on all firearm purchases
    • A ban on assault-style weapons that are frequently used in mass murders
    • Red Flag laws that can stop shootings before they happen
    • A ban on high capacity magazines, bump stocks, and silencers
    • Meaningful waiting periods for firearm purchases
    • Child Access Prevention mandates that can reduce accidental deaths

    Transportation is often overlooked because it doesn’t seem as exciting as other issues. But I know that for my constituents in Northern Virginia, transportation is a top concern that they have to deal with on a daily basis. The traffic problem in Northern Virginia continues to be unbearable for many, turning what should be quick trips into frustrating experiences. Alongside traffic concerns, the transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions and climate change. It’s also an issue of equity: underinvested neighborhoods, often communities of color, continually lack the mobility they need to get to work or to get to other amenities they rely on.

    The knee-jerk reaction to these problems is what we’ve seen for the past 70 years in America: more highways, wider roads, and more reliance on cars. I am here to tell Virginia the hard truth: a seamless, equitable, environmentally friendly transportation network is one that begins to move away from car dependency rather than exasperating it.

    We need large-scale investments in public transit like trains and buses to better connect the metropolitan areas of Virginia. But outside of funding, there is much more we can do to strengthen our non-car transportation options. We need to reimagine our built environment with a focus on people and density in order to facilitate a variety of transportation options like trains and buses, but also bikes, scooters, and walking. A key to accomplishing that is providing more affordable housing options in the neighborhoods where people actually want to live and work. If we were to end exclusionary zoning, Virginians could find affordable homes closer to non-car transit options, which in turn would facilitate more efficient transit projects for the future. Communities that use density to reduce car dependency are proven to promote public health, economic mobility, and reduce carbon emissions.

    I strongly believe that we need to do everything we can to increase ballot access and voter turnout. In many ways, our democratic system has been distorted by both state and federal level Republicans who have rigged elections in their favor. Look no further than gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and discriminatory election administration to see these insidious efforts. Plus, this election rigging almost always targets people of color and other marginalized communities. I will work to roll back voter disenfranchisement and ensure voting is a right for all in Virginia.
    One of the best ways to open up our elections to marginalized people would be to adopt automatic voter registration. AVR would modernize the voting system to ensure that voter registration doesn’t continue to serve as a significant barrier to American citizens exercising their right to vote. Whenever a Virginian interacts with state agencies, they would be registered to vote while given the chance to opt-out.
    Partisan gerrymandering at the state and federal levels must be stopped. Communities deserve representatives that come from and answer to the place where they live. I support the formation of an independent redistricting commission that would be a check on the redistricting process and ensure extreme partisans cannot weaponize the process.
    The Electoral College is an outdated institution that creates an undemocratic system for deciding who holds the most important office in the land. I believe that the candidate who gets the most votes should win an election. That’s why I gladly support entering Virginia into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would pledge our electoral college votes to whoever wins the popular vote in presidential elections.
    Virginia’s policy of felony disenfranchisement is, quite frankly, a legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era. We must finally join 47 other states and restore the right to vote to ex-felons, who are overwhelmingly people of color.

    The 86th District

    Located in western Fairfax County and Eastern Loudoun County, Virginia’s 86th district is comprised of fifteen precincts: two in Loudoun County (Sterling Park), and thirteen in Fairfax County (Herndon, Oak Hill, and Chantilly). As Delegate for this district, I represent a diverse group of over 80,000 Virginians.