I’m really curious to see how many Virginia incumbents end up being primaried this year. So far, there are a few, including for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington and Fairfax, one against Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), one against Del. Bob Thomas (R-HD28), one against Del. Riley Ingram (R-HD62), one against Del. Jeion Ward (D-HD92), one against Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-SD35) and one against Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-SD17). And now, add another one to the list – Democrat Nicole Merlene in SD31, running against Sen. Barbara Favola (D). You can see her announcement below, visit her website here, and follow her on Facebook here. A few things that jumped out at me from her website’s issues section that I *really* like include:
- “The greatest long term threat to not just our Virginia but our world is global warming. We must be a better patron of the Earth.”
- “Ban General Assembly members from being state lobbyists.”
- “We must limit undue influence by establishing campaign contribution limits and banning contributions from state regulated utilities.”
- “Local jurisdictions must be given the authority to determine their own living wage for hourly and tipped workers.”
I’m interested in hearing more from Merlene on a wide range of issues, including gun violence prevention, health care, transportation, etc, etc. I’m also interested in hearing her case for why the incumbent should be replaced. Should be interesting…
Nicole Merlene to Run for Virginia’s 31st State Senate District
(Arlington, VA) Local civic leader Nicole Merlene will be primarying State Senator Barbara Favola in the Democratic Primary to become the next State Senator of Virginia’s 31st District. After years of service to her hometown community, Nicole is running to create an efficient transportation system, provide greater housing accessibility, and develop school to workforce opportunities. Proactive action on all of these issues has been lacking for decades and Nicole plans to tackle them by breaking down inefficient silos with bold new policies that reflect a rapidly changing environment and economy.
“Our community is growing and the foundations of why we all love living here will be tested. Private corporations are some of the largest providers of transportation. Rents and home assessments are skyrocketing. There is a lack of coordination between our secondary schools and employers; and there has been little action in the general assembly to tackle these issues that impact the 31st District every day. The future looks a lot different than it does now and our leadership must reflect that change in order to tackle these issues head on.
“Access to reliable and affordable transportation options is fundamental to creating equal access in the district. To address our rapidly changing transportation system that is increasingly unreliable, I plan to lead a regionally coordinated transportation system that gets you where you need to go and not just another transfer, while creating partnerships with emerging corporate ride sharing options.
Achieving a community where it is possible to both live and work in is within our reach. In order to do so, I will pursue policies that focus on greater access to first time home buyers through reform of the Virginia Down Payment Assistance Program, and improving numerous renter protections.” she said.
As an economic development professional, Nicole knows how to work with businesses of all sizes to ensure that our community’s ecosystem is thriving in a sustainable way. Nicole will propose the creation of a “Virginia Workforce Commission” to ensuring that our schools are working in concert with local employers to create a jobs pipeline for scholars in all stages of their lives or careers.
She commented on the investment in our education and workforce by saying, “Our university system is working in silos with barriers between themselves and with where our graduates will be seeking future employment. Although we have thousands of job openings in the district, we also have a workforce that does not have the skills needed to fill them. A coordination of degree offerings and changing job opportunities is crucial to ensure one of the most burdensome financial commitments in a young adult’s life is worth their investment.”
Nicole Merlene has quickly become a leading millennial activist in the region, holding positions on several different local committees, commissions, and boards. She has served as a commissioner for the Arlington Economic Development Commission, on the Board of the Arlington County Civic Federation, North Rosslyn Civic Association, and serves as the Civic Liaison for the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. In all of these roles, she has promoted a diverse and open community in an often isolated echo chamber. Nicole was awarded for her service to the Civic Federation and has been a frequent speaker locally and nationally on regional economic development. If elected, Nicole Merlene would be the youngest sitting State Senator in the United States.