I actually hadn’t gotten around yet to sending questionnaires for the House of Delegates Democratic candidates in the 68th district (Chesterfield County, Richmond City, a bit of Henrico County; note that Ken Cuccinelli beat Terry McAuliffe in this district by just two points, while Hillary Clinton won with 51% in November 2016, so it’s competitive), but Dawn M. Adams preempted me and sent me the following, filled-out questionnaire. I welcome the other two Democratic candidates, Ben Pearson-Nelson and Mary Jo Sheeley, to do the same. In the meantime, here are the Qs and As by Dawn M. Adams – enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to represent the 68th House of Delegates district in Richmond.
My name is Dawn M. Adams and I am proud to announce my candidacy for the House of Delegates serving the 68th district of Commonwealth of Virginia. Though I currently work two jobs, I have been the first to file for candidacy, submit all of the necessary paperwork for the ballot, and have raised thousands of dollars in less than a month. As a Nurse Practitioner, Health Policy Professor, and the Director for the Office of Integrated Health at a state based agency, my goal has always been to build a safe, healthy community for all Virginians. I am running, because as a 22-year area resident, I believe I have been called to challenge the republican incumbent. We are living in a time where the health and welfare of our communities is paramount and the basic needs and rights of our most vulnerable citizens are not being met. To me, being a Delegate is synonymous with being an honest representative, and with my integrity, compassion, and motivation, I will take the time to hear the constituent’s voice and to make a positive difference in the 68th.
What three issues are you most passionate about and why?
- I am passionate about creating and maintaining healthy communities. This includes widespread comprehensive affordable healthcare for all Virginians; clean air, water, land; ensuring safe, clean open spaces for work and play; and maintaining and increasing equality of all citizens irrespective of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, or political persuasion.
- As one of the wealthiest states in the nation, we must have strong public education systems that span pre-k to university; I believe an education serves the not only the individual but society. I am a life long learner who has been afford the benefits of attending and graduating from a strong public high school in NOVA and four state-funded Universities within the Commonwealth. Our children deserve the same opportunities.
- Accessibility is critical, be it to information via widespread high-speed Internet, to our work and community via improved public transportation systems, or improving the healthcare workforce by enabling professionals to work independently to the fullest extent of their education and training.
How would you describe yourself ideologically – “progressive,” “moderate,” “liberal,” or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, employment, and other activities reflect your political ideology?
I would describe myself as a sensible liberal (no that is not an oxymoron my Republican friends) in the sense that I hold values that afford people the opportunity to maximize their potential, while recognizing that Horatio Alger story is just that. It is rare that one can pull themselves out of an impoverished home and culture and rise above; we must have a strong safety net to support the less fortunate, vulnerable citizens in our community and a strong public school system that gives our youth the tools to be thoughtful, civil, compassionate, and successful as adults. At the same time I believe we have the fiduciary mandate to ensure that we pay attention to the effectiveness in implementing such programs and adjust them to ensure that we are fiscally responsible. I believe public –private partnerships are important to sustaining strong healthy communities. I would work with colleagues to define and foster such partnerships.
Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite current Virginia politician and why?
I have always liked Donald McEachin; he is smart, strong, and accessible. I honestly don’t know the Virginia politicians well enough to pick a least favorite, though I do have my suspicions.
If you had been in the House of Delegates at the time, would you have voted for a) HB 2313, the comprehensive transportation package passed in 2013; Yes
b) repeal of Virginia’s estate tax, which is costing our state around $130 million a year in order to benefit a few hundred of the wealthiest Virginians. No
c) the 2011 redistricting bill HB 5001, which gerrymandered the state and helped to lock in a Republican majority in the House of Delegates for the rest of the decade. No
d) the 2014 and 2015 ethics reform packages, which many (myself included) have criticized as extremely weak, possibly even a step backwards in the case of the most recent “reforms.” Yes
What is your vision for Virginia’s energy future? Do you support any of the following: offshore oil drilling, natural gas “fracking,” new natural gas pipelines (e.g., Mountain Valley Pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline) uranium mining, new coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal coal mining? If not, what will you do to fight against these things, and to fight for a healthy environment, energy efficiency, and renewable power?
Virginia’s energy future is not much different from other economically strong states; it is built upon renewable energy sources such as solar and wind in addition off shore drilling and natural gas. The problem with “fracking” however, is that we don’t as a constituency fully appreciate the unintended consequences of contaminated water and an increased rate of earthquakes. Water contamination in particular it seems could be minimized if companies would intentionally make the process safer for everyone, but that costs money. There needs to be a balance between corporate profits, sustainable energy, and public health protections. I would fight to increase private and some public funding for increased R&D toward energy efficiency and conservation methods and explore means to incentivize renewable power.
Should Virginia be known as more of a “business-friendly” state or more of a “worker-friendly” state and why?
The Commonwealth needs to remain a business friendly state that cares about its workers. The current power lies completely with the business community, a “right-to-work” state clearly favors the employer. Companies must be able to have the opportunity to achieve great success, yet to do this on the backs of their workers is wrong, and as a society we used to know this was wrong. The current minimum wage is too low; it is not a living wage. But candidates who say the minimum wage should be $15.00 per hour I believe are pandering to their base. Virginia is a big state with wide extremes in the cost of living and regional needs. We unfortunately have a pervasive culture of corporate greed nationwide. It seems we could find a path for corporations to succeed and workers to make a living wage.
Yes or no answers…Do you support:
a) a strongly progressive tax system, including a reasonable estate tax on the wealthy: Adverbs…a progressive thoughtfully designed tax system – yes
b) non-partisan redistricting: Yes
c) allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity: Yes
d) closing the “gun show loophole” and taking other common sense gun measure: Yes
e) raising the gas tax and/or instituting a carbon tax (revenue-neutral or otherwise): It depends on what that looks like; until we have an excellent infrastructure for public transit and a variety of safe transportation options, people need to drive cars; gas prices cannot be cost prohibitive so that people can get to work and medical appointments and opportunities for leisure.
f) reining in predatory lenders: Yes
g) fully restoring the rights of ex-felons: It depends, people who have inflicted irreparable harm to others should not be able to etch-a-sketch their past. For non-violent ex-felons: Yes
h) issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and otherwise defending their communities from xenophobic attacks: Issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants doesn’t even make sense to me. I think we need to do more than provide drivers licenses- it’s an easy “fix” for a complex issue. We need to work towards a more comprehensive path to citizenship or legal alien work status that doesn’t put immigrants in potential jeopardy by formally highlighting their status in tenuous times. So No on driver’s licenses; defending immigrants and their communities from prejudice, hateful attack- absolutely.
i) moving Virginia from its current hostility to organized labor towards a far more welcoming, positive place for unions and working people in general? I think Virginia’s strong support of business is part of what makes the Commonwealth diverse and growing. At the same time, there are jobs where labor unions make sense. These like many issues are not binary equivalents-sometimes we must do both.
- The 68th sees a major “dropoff” in Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential years. What would you do, as delegate, to help turn that off-year Democratic “dropoff” around in HD-68? The Democratic base seemed to need something to dramatic to mobilize a global understanding that we can in fact effect change if they are proactive. The Republicans have historically done a better job at getting people out to vote in off years. Down-ballot races need the support of the DNC to fund organizing, voter registration, and canvassing. A focused enthusiasm is essential. I would work with other Democratic Assembly members to solicit the support of the DNC and perhaps some of their celebrity contacts to fill the enthusiasm gap, create increased awareness of the existence of off year elections, and promulgate the “get out the vote” message.
- A) Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken – for instance, the tremendous influence of money, lobbyists and corporations (e.g., Dominion Virginia Power, car title/payday lenders) on legislation – and needs major ethics reform? As a Richmond resident, my first instinct is to say no; it is better than ever. However, since the question seems to be speaking specifically to legislative influence, of course I think the influence of money is a major problem, just as it is at the Federal level. I think ethics reform doesn’t really treat the cause of the problem, but at least on the surface it will curtail overt influence. That being said, it is clear that people who want to get around such reforms will find a way. B) More broadly, if elected to the House of Delegates, would your general attitude be more “go along, get along” with this system or to “shake things up?” Please be as specific as possible in your answer. For instance, would you support campaign finance reform that sharply curtails the power of corporations, lobbyists, and special interests? I have never embraced a “go along to get along” persona. That being said, I am not in favor of “shaking things up” as an ideology. I have a strong internal sense for doing the right thing. I definitely believe campaign finance reform is in order to diminish the influence of corporations, lobbyists, and special interest groups. Public policy decisions should be made because it serves the best interest of the people of the Commonwealth.
Please tell us how you would stand up to party leadership, and even to a Democratic governor, if you believed that they were wrong about an issue and/or that it would hurt the 68th district. I may sound naïve, but I don’t believe I am obligated to agree with the party leadership nor the Governor if they were (in my view) hurting the residents of the 68th. I would just communicate the truth. I am not looking to be a career politician. I am looking to provide effective leadership that serves the interests of the constituents.