On April 17, I sent Blue Virginia interview questions to the three Democratic candidates running for the 67th House of Delegates district (Chantilly/Centreville) seat currently held by Del. Jim LeMunyon (R) – and which Hillary Clinton won by a whopping 22 points (!!) in November 2016. This district clearly represents a major pickup opportunity (I ranked it number two overall in terms of competitiveness) for Democrats. The candidates here are John W. Carey, Karrie Delaney and Hannah Risheq. I asked the candidates to return their answers by the end of April, or earlier if possible, and the first one back was from John W. Carey, on April 30 – click here for that interview. The next Q&A I received back was from Hannah Risheq, on May 2 — click here for that interview. Now, I’ve received answers from Karrie Delaney; see below for those. Finally, please note that the primary for this nomination will take place on June 13, so if you’re a Democrat who lives in the 67th, make sure you vote!
- 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 67th House of Delegates district in Richmond.
I’ve dedicated my life to public service. I started my career working at a group home for foster children – an experience that opened my eyes in many ways, including how policy decisions can either serve or fail our most vulnerable. As an advocate, I have served as a crisis counselor and I stood by women who were assaulted. I have worked to fight human trafficking and have employed community engagement to raise awareness of the abuse of women and girls around the world. When I became a mother, I turned my focus towards local issues as Gov. McAuliffe’s appointee to the Virginia Commission on Youth, as well as former Chair of Fairfax County Citizens Corps Council and the current Chair of Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees. I live in Chantilly with my husband, Patrick, and two children.
- What three issues are you most passionate about and why?
The issues I’m most passionate about include fighting for paid family leave for all, healthcare and Medicaid expansion, fully funding out education system, including STEM programs, and economic development and opportunity for my district. Above all else it will be my priority to listen to the needs of my constituents and serve the people of Virginia.
- 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 my ideology as a progressive and have spent my entire life serving others and protecting progressive causes. I have also dedicated my life to public service and believe that above all else, it is the job of our elected representatives to serve their constituents best interests, no matter the political ideology. My employment and community service record demonstrates an ability to work for a common good. That is what I have done my whole life, and I will continue to stand up for my constituents as the Delegate to the 67th District.
- Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite current Virginia politician and why? Assuming one of your least favorite Virginia politicians is Del. Jim LeMunyon (R), what are your main criticisms of him?
My favorite Virginia politician is Attorney General Mark Herring because I admire his dedication to serving the people in Virginia, like when he went to Dulles Airport to fight for an immigrant family being held by Trump’s disturbing Muslim-Ban.
I am running against Jim LeMunyon because of his 8-year history of voting against the needs of his constituents. For example, just this last session he voted twice to defund Planned Parenthood, he voted against full-day Kindergarten for Loudoun County, and he voted against Medicaid expansion, which would have provided health care coverage to 400,000 additional Virginians and would have created 33,000 new jobs.
- 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; 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; 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; or 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.”
a) Yes, I would have voted for HB 2312. We need more bills that will tackle the congestion in Northern Virginia with comprehensive approaches that look long-term at the effectiveness.
b) I stand with Sen. Kaine in repealing the estate tax.
c) No, I would not have voted for the 2011 redistricting bill HB5001.
d) I am a strong proponent for transparency and effective ethical reform at all levels of government. Elected Officials should uphold an extremely strict code of ethics that serves the public’s best interest and prevents abuse of power.
- 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?
I’m a strong believer in moving Virginia towards 21st Century Clean Energy and we cannot do this on the backs of working families. Companies like these employ thousands of Virginians across the state, and provide quality wages and benefits. We must be conscious of this fact and work with energy companies to define and adopt a long-term plan that reduces our greenhouse emissions and transitions these companies to clean, alternative energy, while also training their employees to ensure our hard-working Virginian families don’t lose their jobs and suffer.
- Should Virginia be known as more of a “business-friendly” state or more of a “worker-friendly” state and why?
A “worker-friendly” state is a “business-friendly” state. We must invest in our workforce with a livable wage and quality benefits like healthcare and paid family leave so as to give our workforce the ability to thrive and contribute to the Virginia economy. Then businesses will look more to Virginia as a welcoming state for their business and invest here. This will bring new jobs and grow our economy.
- Yes or no answers. Do you support: a) a strongly progressive tax system, including a reasonable estate tax on the wealthy; b) non-partisan redistricting; c) allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity ; d) closing the “gun show loophole” and taking other common sense gun measures; e) raising the gas tax and/or instituting a carbon tax (revenue-neutral or otherwise); f) reining in predatory lenders; g) fully restoring the rights of ex-felons; h) issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and otherwise defending their communities from xenophobic attacks; i) moving Virginia from its current hostility to organized labor towards a far more welcoming, positive place for unions and working people in general?
a) I support fiscal responsibility. That means taxing responsibility and investing our state funding wisely, so we can grow our economy and Virginia can flourish. Decisions like this can be tough, but I have the experience to strike up bi-partisan consensus to get this done right. We need to find realistic ways to fund the things VA families need.
e) As I stated above, I’m a strong believer in moving Virginia towards 21st Century Clean Energy and we cannot do this on the backs of working families, which is exactly what a gas tax or other types of taxes would do. We instead need to work with the energy companies in Virginia to put together a long-term plan that responsibly transitions to clean energy while protecting the quality jobs that thousands of Virginians have with these companies.
g) I’m in favor of restoring voting rights for ex-felons who have served their debt to society. Studies show the best way to prevent recidivism and allow ex-felons to become productive members in our community.
- The 67th House of Delegates district is a district that was won (by wide margins) by Hillary Clinton (58%-36% over Donald Trump), Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, etc., yet sees a major “dropoff” in Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential, non-gubernatorial years. What would you do, as delegate, to help turn that off-year Democratic “dropoff” around?
I believe the key to ensuring higher turn-out in odd year elections comes down to talking with and listening to voters. I’m out with my team everyday talking to voters, listening to the issues that matter most, and making sure they are informed about the election this year. The energy and support we are seeing from new activist groups like Pantsuit Nation and Indivisible are promising signs that this year will be a great year for the Democratic Party, and people of Virginia.
- 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? 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?
The influence money has on campaigns and elected officials is disgusting, and I believe it is important that the Virginia General Assembly pass serious campaign finance reform that regulates the influence and control rich individuals, special interests, and corporations have on our government. Elected officials should always prioritize the needs of their constituents over anything else, and our current campaign finance laws do not allow that.
- 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 67th district.
I’ve dedicated my life to public service and standing up for everyone who needs to be heard, no matter their political party. I will serve with these values as the representative of the 67th District. If policies are proposed on either side of the aisle that negatively affect the people of the 67th District, I will fight to ensure that the voice of my community is heard. That is the job of all our elected officials; to serve the interests of their constituents.
- What is your vision for improving traffic congestion in the 67th district? Do you support more transit options? a dedicated funding source (e.g., a regional sales tax) for Metro? more/wider roads? other options?
I believe the 67th District, and Northern Virginia as a whole, needs transportation reform that improves transit in the area. However, contrary to my opponent’s election year, band-aid proposals that he uses to campaign on, I believe we need a long-term comprehensive plan that take into account all parts of transportation, and looks past the 2-year election cycle. This means studying how we can cleanly and efficiently widen I-66, fix and expand metro, and explore new innovative solutions that can ease congestion for an ever-growing Northern Virginia population over the next two decades.