Home 2019 Elections Andres Jimenez: Why Virginia Needs More Bold Progressive Leaders

Andres Jimenez: Why Virginia Needs More Bold Progressive Leaders

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by Andres Jimenez, running for the Democratic nomination in the House of Delegates, District 38 (Annandale, Falls Church). He is Senior Director of Government Affairs at Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The 2019 election offers Virginia the rare opportunity to enact real change. If Democrats gain just two seats in both the General Assembly and Senate, then we’ll control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time since 1993.

Democrats voting in the June 11th primary must now ask ourselves a question: Is Democratic control of Richmond enough?

Is it enough to continue pushing the same worn-out incremental policies that for decades have only nipped at the edges of the biggest challenges facing Virginians? Or are we ready to push for real progressive change that will move our Commonwealth forward?

I live in Fairfax County. I’m a husband, father of two beautiful girls and champion of environmental causes. Every day in my job at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, I represent over 100,000 grassroots volunteers around the country who want real action on climate change at the federal level. And like many of my neighbors, I’ve grown tired of sitting on the sidelines while our state government ignores the many challenges facing Virginia families.

To me, the answer to the question is clear. Virginia needs a progressive Democratic Caucus that truly reflects our party’s values and is ready to fight for bold new policies. That belief is why I’m running for the House of Delegates.

Virginia needs a progressive Democratic Caucus that’s ready to tackle climate change with a real sense of urgency.

This is the greatest challenge facing our generation, one that will define the lives of our children and grandchildren. That’s why I’ve signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” and won’t take any campaign contributions from Dominion Energy. It’s long past time to break the fossil fuel industry’s hold over Virginia politics – particularly in the Democratic Party.

It’s why I support moving Virginia to 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions through the bold solutions set in the Green New Deal Virginia. Without these aggressive goals, we’ll fail to act effectively in the short time remaining to avoid the worst-case scenarios predicted by climate scientists.

This won’t be easy. Addressing climate change will take an all-of-the-above approach, including increased subsidies for expanding renewable energy capacity, joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and pursuing a revenue-neutral carbon fee that is rebated to every Virginian. But this challenge demands action.

Virginia also needs a progressive Democratic Caucus that is ready to fight for working families.

That starts with ensuring every worker in Virginia can afford to live in Virginia. I refuse to say it’s okay for someone working full-time to be paid poverty wages. That’s why I support a $15 minimum wage for all Virginians and then indexing it to inflation.

We also need to end so-called “right-to-work” laws that are exploited by large corporations. “Right-to-work” really means lower wages, insufficient benefits and unsafe working environments for too many Virginia workers.

Fighting for workers also means supporting project labor agreements to prevent wage theft and ensuring that all workers, including state and local government employees, have the right to collectively bargain.

And Virginia needs a progressive Democratic Caucus that believes in upholding the basic rights and dignity of all the Commonwealth’s residents.

That means making it possible for every law-abiding resident to obtain a driver license regardless of immigration status. And it means removing the numerous, medically unnecessary restrictions that Virginia places on women’s reproductive rights.

It isn’t enough to just cast a party line vote – we need Democratic leaders who embrace and are vocal champions of progressive values. We have progressive champions in the General Assembly now, but we need more. We need leaders who won’t back down and will keep fighting for change no matter how hard that fight becomes.

The 2019 primary is our chance to abandon politics of incrementalism that’s held Virginia’s Democratic Party back. Join with us and together we’ll pass the bold progressive changes that our Commonwealth sorely needs.

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