By Amanda Pohl
I’ve been running for Virginia State Senate in the 11th District for about four months now, and some things have truly astonished me. But before I get into that, I need to explain a little about my background.
For years, I’ve been on the advocacy side of politics. I am a “policy” or “systems” social worker, which means I focus on changing things that affect groups of people instead of working one-on-one with individuals. I worked with advocacy groups across the state and across the country to help get the word out about important issues like healthcare, voting rights, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, environmental justice, women’s rights, predatory lending, and more. In my current job, I primarily work with state and local stakeholders to maintain privacy for the survivors of sexual and domestic violence while collecting the data required by state and federal agencies.
In these roles, I’ve worked with people on both sides of the political aisle who I may or may not always agree with to solve complicated problems and accomplish shared goals. There’s something important I learned in this work: often (not always), we have common goals, we just don’t always agree on the solutions.
Another important lesson I learned in my work is that relationships and valuing people is and should be the highest priority.
Which brings me back to running a campaign for Virginia State Senate in the 11th District. When I started, I knew I wanted to focus on people over politics. I was a chaplain for more than ten years, and it is because I care deeply about people and what happens to Virginians that I decided to run for office.
What has astounded me is that I am in a district where schools are having to fight for basic supplies, teachers (and many others) are underpaid, our infrastructure needs have gone unaddressed for far too long, and every week when I talk to voters in the district, I hear another story about how someone has to make a choice between life-sustaining medication and basic necessities like food and shelter.
We all thought Amanda Chase’s inappropriate and entitled outburst over a parking spot was problematic, but the failures of our current state senator go beyond using foul-language and her allegations of racism toward the African American officer who wouldn’t bend to her will.
We have real crises here in the 11th Senate District that need our immediate attention. Our unaddressed infrastructure needs are compounded by climate change that our current senator refuses to acknowledge. And while I’m thankful that the coal ash pond in Chesterfield is finally getting cleaned up (something the organizations I worked for were advocating before Chase was ever elected), Dominion still gets to charge ratepayers for that cleanup…and they get to make a profit off us for cleaning it up. We still have not addressed the need to develop solar and wind energy in Virginia; we need legislators to fully support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and we need to get regulated utility money out of politics for good (Chase has received $7,000 so far from those donors during her campaigns and term as state senator).
People are still suffering because politicians are playing politics with our lives. I, for one, think it’s time for a change. I am running because it is time to elect officials who value people – someone willing to listen to those who are directly affected and understand that policies are more than words on a paper because policies touch every part of our lives. It’s time to have a senator who will care about you and who will put in the work to understand the full implications of policies before we pass them.
Vote for me, Amanda Pohl, at the polls on June 11, 2019. We’ll fight together to make sure that we prioritize our community values and put people first.