by Stephanie Carter
Members of the Prince William Progress Coalition sat down for a video interview with Code Blue (click here for interview), a national group focused on getting more Democrats elected across the country.
The Prince William Progress Coalition is made up of four candidates running for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017; Ken Boddye (51st district), Lee Carter (50th district), Elizabeth Guzman (31st district), and Mansimran Kahlon (13th district).
According to Code Blue’s Facebook page, the group’s goal is to “rebuild a progressive voting majority in federal, state and local government,” and the group is looking at Virginia as one of the first electoral answers to the presidential election results last November.
In 2015, 71 seats for the House of Delegates went unopposed. During the interview, coalition members discussed how to get Democrats to stand up and run for local government in their area.
“Find an issue that you’re really, truly passionate about, and step forward and start advocating for that. And if it resonates with people, then they’ll encourage you to run,” said Carter.
The candidates acknowledged that there’s often a disconnect between the legislative priorities of elected officials, and the every day problems the constituents in their districts are dealing with.
“There’s a gap between the lives of citizens, and the legislation that affects their lives. You can look at the bills being filed…and none of them have to do with the daily problems in [any] of our districts,” said Kahlon.
Each candidate was able to share some of the issues central to their districts and their campaigns – transportation, economic development, LGBT protections, women’s choice, raising the minimum wage, workplace protections, Medicaid expansion, and education.
“I’m a first generation immigrant and when I moved to this country, I had to have three jobs in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the Northern Virginia area…the [minimum wage] here in Virginia is $7.25 – nobody could live here with $7.25 – after taxes you’re bringing home about $200 a week,” said Guzman.
“We need to make sure as a state, that we’re enhancing worker protections so people know that if catastrophe does strike, if something does happen to you that makes you unable to go to work…we need to make sure that we provide a framework so that people can feel financially secure,” said Carter.
The group hopes that by working together to amplify each others message and share resources, and fighting for progressive values, that they will be able to stand up for every day Virginians in the General Assembly.
“As Democrats, and why we’re called the Prince William Progress Coalition is that all of us in some way, shape, or form believe in progress – that Virginians stand for progress,” said Boddye.
Groups like Code Blue will be an integral part of the coalitions’ respective campaigns throughout the 2017 election cycle.