Home 2018 Elections Special Election SD33: Candidate Interview #2 Jennifer Boysko

Special Election SD33: Candidate Interview #2 Jennifer Boysko

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Cindy: What life experiences led you to being in politics, and why are you here?

Delegate Boysko: My mom dropped out of college to marry my dad when she was 18. She thought she’d met the man of her dreams and that relationship did not work out, and she ended up being a single mom having never had any job before. At the end of the first month in her employment, they didn’t have any money to pay her, so they gave her two sleeping bags and an electric knife without a cord as her payment. She then went on and got a minimum-wage job and had no sick leave so if I was sick she’d have to decide if she was going to pay a babysitter more than she made for the day, or leave me at home by herself. She eventually got to go back to school because her father was able to put her through–I know that everybody doesn’t have that. It means that we have to make sure that we are looking out for other people. I have been an activist my whole life from the time I was about twelve, and all through college–I used to go on human rights meetings with my college chaplain to Washington DC to stand up against apartheid and concerns about the wars going on in Latin America, human rights violations and i eventually got a job on the the Hill. When George Bush got elected and then the Supreme Court made that decision, I found myself so frustrated. In the middle of the night I’d be waking up thinking things. Then I learned about Howard Dean and I was very inspired. I ended up being the first Meetup host in Northern Virginia. Eventually I met Don Beyer and he ended up making me state director for that presidential campaign in Virginia. After that I volunteered my time is local elections from 2003 through 2008 when John Foust won his election for Board of Supervisors the second time he ran he asked me to join his staff. I watched a General Assembly move further and further to the right. they passed the Marshall-Newman amendment that only man and woman could be recognized as a married couple, they made a lot of restrictions on a right to abortion, they defunded the school to the tune of something like six hundred million dollars, and I finally got fed up and I ran the first time in 2013 and I ended up coming 32 votes short of beating a 12-year incumbent who’d been a mayor for 20 years before that. Then I said “I’ll see you next year” after that was over and I knocked on every single door in my district, I had conversations with every single person, I outworked my opponent, and my opponent got 42 percent I got almost 55.

Cindy: I guess the obvious question is why move to the Senate–what do you think is going to be different there or that you can do differently there that you can’t do right now?

Delegate Boysko: Well you just have a bigger footprint and a bigger voice. There’s only 40 Senators, and there’s a hundred House members so you’re going from representing roughly 80,000 people to 250,000.

Cindy: What are the issues you most want to work on in the Senate?

Delegate Boysko: Economic opportunity for everyone, things like fair wages, passing the ERA, equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave, reproductive rights, protections for families are really big for me. Additionally gun violence prevention is just at the top of everybody’s list, and voting rights, specifically surrounding independent redistricting.

Cindy: What committee are you hoping to be assigned to?

Delegate Boysko: That’s a good question. Health and Education would be one that I would really enjoy. I’ve appreciated being on Privileges and Elections, I’d love to be able to continue in that work. And, I mean, everybody wants to be able to help decide how the money is spent, so of course that’s something that would be interesting as well, but I certainly wouldn’t expect that, because as the newest member I don’t think that would happen. I serve on local government committee the County, Cities, and Towns since I have a long history of working with my local government, I feel like I’m well situated for that.

Cindy: Which current state senator do you think is closest to your political ideology?

Delegate Boysko: Probably Scott Surovell or Adam Ebbin, or maybe Barbara Favola.

Cindy: How should the 2021 redistricting to be done, and do you think reform is going to pass this year?

Delegate Boysko: Well, it has to pass this year if we’re going to get it done, so I’m going to be optimistic and say we’re going to get it done because the grassroots people and folks all over Virginia are demanding it. I support an independent Redistricting Commission. I would be open to a commission that is appointed by folks that has a partisan makeup if that’s what we have to do. My top priority would be an independent commission not even appointed by members of the legislature, but by independent folks like judges, for instance, but it’s important to me that we get something done.

Cindy: In your opinion should Virginia build the ACP and MVP?

Delegate Boysko: I have really struggled with, as you are aware, but after all of the study that I’ve done and the benefit of hearing from so many people, I’m very concerned about them, and I’m very concerned for the environmental degradation for our land. I’m very concerned about that slope that the pipelines are going in in the mountainous regions. I’m concerned for the personal property of folks like Red Terry, and I am concerned about the long-term reliability of natural gas, when we need to be focusing on renewables. I did a whole big meeting where I got everybody together to talk about how we can get to the next level so that we can to get to a zero carbon renewable energy economy and that’s really where I’d like to be focusing our energy.

Cindy: What is the role of legislators–is there a role for legislators to be using their bully pulpit to voice an opposition to the pipelines?

Delegate Boysko: I feel that it’s important to bring people together. I try to listen to everybody and to have a conversation with everybody. I don’t feel like things like calling for folks’ resignation is the right way to do it. I don’t feel like throwing the governor under the bus is the right way to do it. As a legislator, I feel like my responsibility is to give other people that opportunity to be heard and to be a conduit. I was asked to write a letter, which I did, I shared my concern and I’ll continue to do that, but I don’t get a vote, I don’t get a vote on that, which is something that some people don’t understand. And while I could stand up and scream and say I oppose it, that doesn’t really solve anything. So what I’d rather do is work on where can we go and what progress can we make on renewables on battery storage, on wind and solar, and what policy things can we change to make it cheaper and and more reliable so that the incentives in gas pipelines goes away.

Cindy: What are some unique features and opportunities and challenges of the 33rd Senate District?

Delegate Boysko: We have one of the most diverse communities in Virginia. We have schools that are very deep in poverty, and folks who are struggling on a daily basis. we have folks who are employees out at the airport who don’t even have money to get back and forth because they’re not paid a fair wage. But we also have the technology corridor, with high-tech industries like Orbital and Northrop Grumman, who are on the cutting edge of the satellites and we have the Center for Innovative Technology. We’ve got a number of new metro stations coming on the Silver Line, then we have historic Leesburg and all that that brings with it–breweries and economic opportunities for fresh new growth.

Cindy: Do you think that the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney should eliminate the use of cash bail?

Delegate Boysko: Cash bail–that some people would not be able to afford and therefore they wouldn’t have the opportunity? Yeah I think that’s a good idea. That’s one of many social justice issues that we need to get on top of–I mean it disenfranchises folks who are not financially able it’s one of the long vestiges of Jim Crow kinds of policies.

Cindy: Are there any solutions to the commutes and tolls in your district?

Delegate Boysko: I’m a 22-year resident of Herndon and I have to pay those tolls too. I was out in front saying that I disagreed with the tolling of I-66 .The specific things that I was upset about was that they expanded HOV times and some people don’t have flexibility of when they’re on the road, and repealing of the HOV for alternative-fuel vehicles. I’ve been a big proponent of sluglines to help people get out of their cars and and car pools Then, distance-based tolling on the Greenway is something that I think we absolutely have to demand, because people aren’t going the full road have to pay the full fare which is extremely expensive. I’m vehemently opposed to any sort of toll on Fairfax County Parkway and have made that clear. Getting people out of their cars and onto the metro I think is something that we’re gonna have to try to do but still in Loudoun County and Fairfax County if you’re a commuter you don’t have good solutions. I’m pleased that with I-66 the money is going back into improvements on alternative routes and into other commuter options for us, so I’m advocating for more commuter lots and avenues for the Herndon/Sterling area specifically so that we get some of that money in our region but it’s just it’s a hardship and it’s something that I have to deal with.

Cindy: Is there anything else that you wanted to bring up that I haven’t asked and that you think is important for people to know about your race?

Delegate Boysko: I want people to remember when Jennifer Wexton ran for this race, they had to spend almost a million dollars. This is not a sure thing. In a special election anything can happen, turnout is extremely low. The person who can really organize best and get their voters out wins. I have a long history of being a grassroots organizer and campaign volunteer for other people. I have hit tens of thousands of doors myself but I’ve also motivated and worked with other folks over the years to help them and I’m a strong fundraiser. I care about these issues and I’m willing to go to the mat–it’s too important, and I won’t be able to sleep unless I do every single thing that I can because there are people in our community who deserve a better government, a better General assembly, and you know we can do it but it’s going to take hard work and perseverance and tenacity and the ability to have thick skin and you will have that in me and I hope voters will come out and support me.

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