“Abigail took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath didn’t come with an expiration date.”
I recently sat down with Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative who is looking to win the Democratic nomination for the 7th House of Representatives district in Virginia. Spanberger grew up in Short Pump, in Henrico County, attended J.R. Tucker High School and then went on to UVA. After graduating from UVA, she worked to get her MBA from a dual-degree German-American program between the GISMA business school and Purdue University.
In our interview, we discussed some of the important issues that are impacting the country and her district. Spanberger is listening to citizens across the 7th district as she meets them at various events and gatherings. Note that recently, Kim Gower, another House Democratic primary candidate in the district dropped out of the race and gave her endorsement to Spanberger.
— Abigail Spanberger (@SpanbergerVA07) August 22, 2017
We discussed some of the controversial topics that are gripping the country at the moment. Read what she had to say below on topics like Charlottesville, healthcare, “sanctuary cities” and more.
Heather Heyer was killed by a man who drove his car into a crowd of people. Two Virginia state police officers – Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen – were killed after a helicopter they were using to monitor the protests crashed. This all happened in the town where Spanberger attended college.
AS: “As an alumna of UVa, it was really really difficult to watch neo-Nazis and Klansmen walk through the streets of the university. Particularly knowing that so many of them had come from all over the country to basically bully a town that I love. From a national perspective, as a Virginian and as an American, I think that we have to take Charlottesville as a point of reflection. We cannot deny that significant racism exists in this country. We cannot deny that there are significant problems that we need to address head on. I think for many people it was stunning to see those people walking down the streets.”
Rest in peace Heather Heyer. Thank you for standing up for peace in the face of racism and hate.
— Abigail Spanberger (@SpanbergerVA07) August 13, 2017
Rest in peace Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen. Thank you for your example of service and commitment to our Commonwealth and communities.
— Abigail Spanberger (@SpanbergerVA07) August 13, 2017
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act deems sanctuary jurisdictions, cities, and states that do not cooperate with immigration officials or enforce immigration laws ineligible for certain types of federal funding. Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the far-right House “Freedom Caucus,” voted yes on this bill. The “No Sanctuary” bill has drawn sharp partisan attention, with Republicans rebuking any thought of sanctuary cities. Donald Trump campaigned on ideas like these and released this statement after the House passed the act: “Today, I applaud the House for passing two crucial measures to save and protect American lives. These were bills I campaigned on and that are vital to our public safety and national security. Sanctuary cities are releasing violent criminals, including members of the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang, back onto our streets every single day”.
As a former federal law enforcement officer, Spanberger has an interesting perspective on this.
AS: “Ultimately, ‘sanctuary cities’ are a localities decision. It’s a decision that should be made between the localities and local law enforcement, in terms of what their capabilities are. Having been in federal law enforcement myself, I understand and recognize that at times when you have local officers executing search warrants or arrest warrants on a particular issue, they don’t necessarily have the resources to make an immigration arrest. That requires a significant amount of coordination with federal authorities. Overall I think it’s a complicated issue and I fully recognize that.”
Republicans have been promising for close to seven years that they are going to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The GOP now controls Congress and the White House, yet the ACA is still the law of the land. The momentum that the Republicans seemed to have faded with a late night/early morning Senate vote by Sen. John McCain, nixing the final effort to repeal the law. Still, healthcare remains at the top of the list of issues being talked about in Congress.
AS: “It’s interesting you ask about healthcare because we have had a number of meet-and-greets across the district and a number of meetings with Democratic committees [on this issue]. Healthcare is, across the board, one of the top issues, if not the first issue people talk about.”
Spanberger’s priority is making sure that everyone in this country has access to affordable health care.
AS: “There are many ways to achieve that ultimate goal, [and] that can mean making adjustments to the existing Affordable Care Act. It was a compromise when it went into effect, and no-one could’ve predicted exactly how things would’ve come together. So there certainly are areas that we could be making improvements. And rather than walking away from a system that does provide millions of Americans with their healthcare, that does ensure people with preexisting decisions are supported, that does remove lifetime caps; rather than walking away from a system that has all those benefits, I think we should identify some of the places where there may be room for improvements and make those improvements.”
Availability to Future Constituents
Abigail Spanberger vows to hold frequent town halls with her constituents after she joins Congress. This compares to Dave Brat, who has been hiding from his constituents the entire year. Brat either makes surprise visits to random locations across the district or speaks at invite-only events. Brat even compared the constituents at his town hall to the white supremacists in Charlottesville.
AS: “If elected, my priority would be to make sure that I am listening to people across this district. This is a very mixed district as far as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. I personally feel that elected officials have a responsibility to answer to all of his or her constituents and to make sure it is known why they vote the way they do. I would want to hold more frequent town halls. In fact, I would begin holding town halls before even being sworn in, to make sure that when I head to Congress, it would be with the knowledge of the things that are important to my constituents.”
Meanwhile, Dave Brat is still not answering questions and is refusing to attend a town hall with Virginia activists.
In my view, Abigail Spanberger has the knowledge, experience, and will to fight for what is right. Virginia’s 7th district has been lacking those qualities in its representatives for years. I recommend you keep an eye on Abigail Spanberger’s campaign over the next year and consider supporting her.
To reach Brandon, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org