Home 2019 Elections #VADemsChat: Questions and Answers on Health Care, Gun Violence, Education, the Climate...

#VADemsChat: Questions and Answers on Health Care, Gun Violence, Education, the Climate Crisis, the ERA, Choice, etc.


The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) this afternoon held its “first-ever candidate tweet chat” (#VADemsChat), with Virginia Democratic General Assembly candidates tweeting out answers to the DLCC’s questions. See below for the ten questions – on health care, gun violence prevention, education, the climate crisis, reproductive rights, the ERA, LGBTQ anti-discrimination, redistricting, voting, and what they like about their districts- and some of the responses.

Q1: Thanks to Democrats, Virginia expanded Medicaid in 2018. Yet for many people voting on November 5, the number one issue remains health care. Why do you think this is still such a big concern for voters and how do you plan to make health care even more accessible? #VADemsChat

@Hashmi4Va “A1: As someone living w/ a pre-existing condition I want to start by reminding everyone: Health care is a right and not a privilege. Medicaid expansion was a great step, but we need to do more to ensure EVERYONE in VA has access to quality, affordable health care”

@JennMcClellanVA “A1: While over 300k more Virginians now have health insurance, we’ve got to tackle balanced billing, rising prescription drug costs, & provider shortages. We need to continue the progress made under the leadership of
@CreighDeeds to improve our mental health system.”

@JCole4VA “A1: Our citizens are struggling with the rising cost of prescription drugs. Over 830,000 Virginia residents suffer from diabetes. I will introduce legislation to cap prescription drug costs for insulin co-payments at $100.00 a month or less!”

@ronnierossva “Healthcare is one of my top priorities. As someone with a pre-existing condition, I will fight on behalf of Virginians to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare.”

@C_Herring “It’s a basic need & right. Without being healthy, one cannot work and take care of their family.”

@PriceForDel95 “The reason why healthcare is still an issue is because even with expansion, so many people still struggle to pay the cost of insurance, copays, and fees. Costs of medicines have risen and it’s hard for working families to afford the care they need. ALSO:::::: As we control the costs of care, and offer help to those who need it, we also need to pass an increase in the minimum wage as a step toward people having basic needs for healthy lives.”

@shelly_simonds “A1: Healthcare costs are too high – especially medications prices. We don’t have to wait for Congress to act. One Day 1, I will be ready to introduce legislation to create a Virginia Drug Affordability Panel that will police the price of prescriptions.”

@ssurovell “Medicaid Expansion was never intended to be a complete solution to healthcare. Prescription drug prices are out of control and medical inflation continues to outpace earnings and inflation – we need to do more to get prices under control.”

@JenniferBoysko “At the Federal level, Republicans continue to threaten to repeal affordable health care for working people, and I’ll fight that. I’ll also work to expand services for mental health and work to control rising prescription costs.”

@SuhasforVA “A1: Healthcare costs are soaring and many people have to choose between paying rent or medical bills. I support removing Medicaid work requirements, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, healthcare cost transparency, and expanding access to mental healthcare.”

@sheilaforva “My son has a pre-existing heart condition. Unlike my opponent, I would never vote to attack the ACA. This issue is personal to me & I will do everything make our health care more affordable & keep perscription costs low.”

Q2: Every year, gun violence kills hundreds of people in Virginia, which has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. So far, the GOP has refused to take action. What policy do you think would be most effective in curbing these deaths? #VADemsChat

@shelly_simonds “A2: It is disgraceful that the GOP has blocked any & all meaningful policies that would help stop senseless gun violence. The safety of our communities isn’t a partisan issue. We need universal background checks and to reinstate the one handgun a month law.”

@SuhasforVA “A2: We must start treating the gun violence epidemic as a public health emergency. Universal background checks and a ban on military-style assault weapons are top priorities to ensure that we feel safe at home, work, and school. This can happen when we #FlipVABlue!”

@ssurovell “Curbing gun violence in VA is simple: (1) mandatory background checks, (2) 15-bullet magazine limit, (3) assault rifle purchase ban, (4) red flag orders, and (5) restoration of one-gun-a-month.”

@Hashmi4Va “A2: After the terrible tragedy in VA Beach I went w/ other moms & neighbors to demand that the GA #DoSomething but Rs like @GlenSturtevant only voted to adjourn. We NEED common-sense gun safety reforms like universal background checks & bans on high-capacity magazines.”

@JCole4VA “A2: Red Flag Laws can stop these atrocities before they occur by allowing law enforcement to take action to seize weapons from those who wish to do harm. We can protect our communities while respecting the 2nd Amendment rights of our citizens.”

@C_Herring “There are many policies such as ERPOs & universal background checks. Ironically, the GOPs own experts identified these as helpful along with the Democrats experts at a recent hearing. Yet, silence by the GOP turning their backs on an opportunity make Virginian’s safer.”

@JenniferBoysko “Commonsense measures like: 1. Red Flag Laws; 2. Universal Basic Background Checks; 3. Closing the Gun Show Loophole; 4. Banning Bump Stocks & High Capacity Magazines”

@sheilaforva “My daughter survived a senseless act of gun violence, and I’m on a mission to make Virginia a safer place. I just released an ad on guns this morning about our need for universal background checks & other common-sense gun safety measures.”

Q3: Everyone wants their child to go to a safe school with good teachers and up-to-date resources. What steps does the state government need to take to ensure every child gets a top-notch public education in the commonwealth? #VADemsChat

@Hashmi4Va “A3: As a longtime educator & mom whose kids went to public school, this issue is personal to me. We need to prioritize education & ensure all of our schools receive adequate funding b/c every child deserves to go to a quality public school regardless of their zip code.”

@ssurovell “A top notch education requires (1) Preschool for every child, (2) teacher salaries in the top 1/3rd of the USA, (3) digital devices for every student over 3rd grade in Virginia, and (4) affordable broadband for every student so they can study at home.”

@ronnierossva “We need to increase teacher pay. This year the VA Legislator was able to increase teacher pay without raising taxes. As a State Senator I would make this a priority when reviewing the budget. We need to start first by supporting our teachers.”

@C_Herring “VA must attract & retain top talent to teach our children. VA falls behind DC & MD when it comes to teacher pay. That needs to change. So, let’s start there.”

@shelly_simonds “A3: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of our students & teachers. We must fully fund our public schools. VA still haven’t recovered from the last recession when ed funding & jobs were drastically cut. We must make this a top priority.”

@JennMcClellanVA “A3: We need to fully fund our k-12 needs. Higher salaries, more funding for support personnel & construction/maintenance needs, focusing more on growth than raw SOL scores. A strong early childhood system aligned w/ K-3 curriculum would mitigate achievement gaps.”

@JCole4VA “A3: Currently, the Virginia Lottery produces 10% of the state’s budget for education. Let’s look at dropping the prize return from 61% to 50% and put 11% more of it’s $2.3 billion in sales into education!”

@sheilaforva “Though we’re considered the top state in the country for business, Virginia ranks 32nd in teacher pay—over $7,000 less than the national average. Years of GOP budget cuts have put funding for our public schools at pre-recession levels. We Dems must & will do better.”

@SuhasforVA “A3: Making sure our kids have a great education is a top priority – we need to increase school funding to pre-recession levels so they have the resources to succeed. And, we must raise teacher pay so we can attract and retain the best educators!”

Q4: Virginia’s thousands of miles of beautiful shoreline are being threatened by climate change. What can state legislators do to defend the coast and assist vulnerable communities that will feel the greatest burden from rising sea waters? #VADemsChat

@shelly_simonds “A4: VA has the opportunity to lead the nation on clean energy. But right now we’re getting most of our renewable energy from neighboring states. Let’s bring the renewable energy sector to Hampton Roads! Not only is it better for our climate, it’s good for the economy!”

@JCole4VA “A4: We must extend the Energy Efficent Buildings Tax Exemption to all VA localities, impliment stricter emissions regulations for businesses, and have VA pledge to reduce green-house gas emissions by at least 50% by 2035.”

@JennMcClellanVA “Q4: @MarkKeam & I are working to remove barriers to increased use of solar in VA through the Solar Freedom Bill. Renewable portfolio standards coupled w/ worker retraining & energy efficiency goals/programs like those championed by @RipSullivan48 are also key.”

@JenniferBoysko “Let’s start with respecting the science. Climate change is not up for debate. I am committed to working with our environmental community to create responsible policy to address these threats.”

@Hashmi4Va “A4: Let’s be clear, we aren’t just experiencing climate change, we are experiencing a climate crisis, and we must take bold actions now to deal with it. Virginia has the chance to become a leader in clean energy and it’s time to take up that challenge.”

@SuhasforVA “A4: Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation, which is why we must invest more in renewable energy in VA and ban offshore drilling on our coasts, all while ensuring environmental justice by those most affected.”

@ssurovell “Climate change is real & VA is vulnerable. Virginia needs to decarbonize by allowing community net metering, adopting solar tax credits, investing in EV infrastructure, banning fracking, & encouraging home energy audits.”

@ronnierossva “I believe in protecting all of our incredible natural resources. To protect our environment we must work to ensure that environmental protections are put into place and followed.”

@PriceForDel95 “A4: Not even to be funny, but VA please send me more colleagues who understand and trust science. We can’t operate legislatively based on talking points from corps. Scientific data is informing us of the urgency of needing to act.”

@PriceForDel95 “Also, offshore drilling is not just a no but a hell no!”

@sheilaforva “Climate change is an existential threat to our commonwealth & our humanity. We can no longer be beholden to big energy companies. If Trump won’t act on climate, Dems in Virginia will. We will make it easier for folks to use clean energy—our lives depend on it.”

Q5: The Virginia GOP has made it clear that if they had their way, they would pass a bill banning abortion. How do you plan to defend and expand access to reproductive rights? #VADemsChat

@C_Herring “That ban would violate the constitution and would be an affront to legal precedent. The best way we can protect a woman’s right to access reproductive healthcare is to elect candidates who believe in & respect a woman’s constitutionally protected privacy rights.”

@ssurovell “We need to codify Roe v. Wade before the Kavanaugh Court strikes, restore funding for Planned Parenthood, and remove unnecessary obstacles to women’s reproductive health like mandatory ultrasounds.”

@SuhasforVA “A5: We must protect reproductive rights and prevent Alabama-style laws that criminalize abortion in Virginia. The decision to access safe abortion is between a woman and her doctor, not a politician and their party. That is why we need to elect Dems around VA!”

@Hashmi4Va “A5: Our daughters shouldn’t have to be fighting for the same basic reproductive rights that we’ve been fighting for, for decades. What a woman decides to do with her own body is her decision and we need to make sure that right is protected here in Virginia”

@shelly_simonds “A5: We cannot allow Virginia to follow the example of Georgia and Alamaba. In Richmond, you can count on me to always stand up for and defend a woman’s right to make her own medical choices. Reproductive healthcare = healthcare. It’s that simple.”

@JennMcClellanVA “A5: I will continue fighting to roll back the mandatory (unnecessary) requirements imposed in VA law on reproductive health such as the ultrasound requirement, TRAP laws, & restrictions on medicaid funding for abortions in the case of gross fetal abnormality.”

@sheilaforva “My opponent Republican @SpeakerCox is not only anti-choice, his views on reproductive rights are extreme. He repeatedly supported bills that would’ve banned abortion & emergency contraception. I won’t let Cox or anyone get in between a woman and her doctor. Period.”

@JCole4VA “A5: By ensuring continued funding for Planned Parenthood which provides STI screenings, trans-healthcare, & family planning. I will fight against any attempts to criminalize abortion. I trust women, and always will.”

@JenniferBoysko “I served on @NARALVirginia board and have fought for reproductive autonomy my whole life. Women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about when and if to have a child. Politicians should not be inserting themselves into these personal/private decisions.”

@AlexAskew757 “A5: I plan to defend and expand access to reproductive rights by NEVER standing in between a woman and her doctor.”

@PriceForDel95 “A5: It was a highlight of my ’19 Session to work w/ #ReproRights groups on the Reproductive Healthcare Equity Act. We raised the profile of the convo of the need for equity in access to care for all who need it.”

Q6: This year, Virginia came so close to being the final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment banning sex discrimination in the Constitution. Why do you–along with the overwhelming majority of Virginians–support the ERA? #VADemsChat

@shelly_simonds “A6: My grandmother was a suffragette. 100 years later and Grandma Lou’s work is still not done. That’s why we need the ERA. We still don’t have parity – esp. for women of color – and we can’t stop fighting until we are ALL equal under the law.”

@ronnierossva “I support ratifying the ERA because it is high time that we have protections against sex discrimination in our Constitution. Everyone deserves equality, and equal opportunity.”

@Hashmi4Va “A6: It’s absurd that in 2019 I can be paid less for doing the same job as a man simply because of my gender. We must ratify the ERA not just so women of today are treated fairly, but so that women of tomorrow don’t know what it’s like to not be.”

@C_Herring “Alice Paul said it best: ‘I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me, there is nothing complicated by ordinary equality’.”

@ssurovell “I’ve carried #ERA ea year b/c our Constitution doesn’t truly require sexual nondiscrimination,
@realDonaldTrump shows that the most basic political norms can be shredded & it’s time for VA to lead the USA on civil rights as we did in America’s founding.”

@JCole4VA “A6: Its time to pass the ERA to guarantee that the rights which our Constitution protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to gender. I will fight for equality for all no matter who you are or how you identify.”

@SuhasforVA “A6: I support the ERA so that women are ensured equal protections under the law. We must also have equal pay for equal work for women, stronger workplace harassment protections, and paid medical family leave. We can change that if we #FlipVABlue.”

@sheilaforva “I support the ERA because I support gender equality. As a woman of color, I understand the terrible effects of the vast gender wage gap in our country. It’s exciting that if we #FlipVABlue & ratify the ERA, we could improve millions of American lives countrywide!”

Q7: LGBTQ folks still lack anti-discrimination protections in the commonwealth. How will you make sure that no Virginian is denied equality because of who they love, the way they look, or how they identify? #VADemsChat 

@C_Herring “We must codify non-discrimination laws for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. It is a shame that we are having to have this conversation in 2019. This should have happened years ago.”

@shelly_simonds “A7: Hate and discrimination have no place in Virginia – not in our housing policies, employment practices or voting laws. I am proud to work with @HRC and will continue to always stand up for equal rights for all Virginians.”

@ssurovell “We need a state-level LGBTQ government, workplace, housing, and public accommodation non-discrimination law and we need to get LGBTQ discrimination relics out of our Code and State Constitution.”

@ronnierossva “I support anti-discrimination legislation. No one should be fearful of retaliation based on who they love. We must be allies and fight for what is right for the LGBTQ Community.”

@JenniferBoysko “I will continue to fight for equality in Virginia until our LGBTQ community is treated fairly. Virginia has embarrassed itself time and time again by disenfranchising our LGBTQ residents.”

@JCole4VA “A7: By introducing non-discrimination policy which House Republicans killed this past session. Virginia is for ALL lovers, and nobody should be subject to employment or housing discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.”

@sheilaforva “Once again, my opponent Republican @SpeakerCox singlehandedly killed anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ folks in the workplace & at home. I am a strong ally to the LGTBQ community & will work tirelessly to ensure we no longer have legal discrimination in Virginia.”

@SuhasforVA “A7: We must pass a statewide Fairness ordinance that prohibits employers from denying jobs and landlords from denying housing to the LGBTQ community. All Virginians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve equality under the law.”

@Hashmi4Va “A7: No one should be denied housing, fired from their job, or discriminated against in any way just because of who they love or how they identify. We need to ensure that our LGBTQ friends and neighbors have true equality here in Virginia”

Q8: Whichever party wins the election this year will control the redistricting process in 2021, cementing political lines for a decade. What kind of damage could Republicans do if they get their hands on the maps again? #VADemsChat

@SuhasforVA “A8: If Republicans are in charge of redistricting, that would mean another 10 years of gerrymandered districts that don’t allow for proper representation for their residents. We elect legislators to govern, not draw safe seats for themselves.”

@shelly_simonds “Q8: We need nonpartisan redistricting in Virginia. That’s it. That’s the tweet.”

@Hashmi4Va “A8: It’s crucial that we win control of the General Assembly ahead of 2021 redistricting, b/c we’ve seen time & time again that Republicans cannot be trusted to draw fair maps. Voters should be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

@PriceForDel95 “A8: We have seen it! The other side would rather get creative with district lines instead of creative with their voter outreach & legislative agendas. Now that the courts have intervened, we can see what more fair districts would mean – a better representative govt.”

@JennMcClellanVA “A8: The last time they drew the VA House map it was struck down by the US Supreme Court as a racial gerrymander. The Court refused to ban partisan gerrymandering but @PriceForDel95 and I have been fighting to take politics out of the process.”

@ronnierossva “I believe that we must have fair and unbiased redistricting here in Virginia. No one should be able to carve out which voters they want to represent.”

@JCole4VA “A8: Earlier this year, Federal judges ruled that 11 GOP drawn VA House districts discriminated against people of color. It’s time to move to independent, third party redistricting reform and stop allowing politicians to pick their constituents.”

@sheilaforva “Sound familiar? Democrats won the House of Delegates popular vote by 10 points in 2017, but we still didn’t get the majority. GOP-backed partisan & racial gerrymandering hurt democracy in Virginia. Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around.”

Q9: Today is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay! We know that EVERY VOTE COUNTS, especially in a state election. Why is it so important that every Virginian gets registered and turns in a ballot this November? #VADemsChat

@JenniferBoysko “I lost my first race by 32 votes out of 21,000 cast and @shelly_simonds lost by 1. EVERY VOTE MATTERS! The policies we pass matter to your everyday life. Use your voice, it matters!”

@C_Herring “Because your vote matters, REGISTER. Make sure your voter information is UP TO DATE, find out about ABSENTEE VOTING. Do it now. Crucial deadlines for the Nov 5th election will come faster than you realize!”

@JenniferBoysko “I suggest you look at the past decade. Here’s a list of what Republican control has given us:
1. Refusing to pass gun violence prevention laws; 2. Peeling away reproductive rights; 3. Refusing to address climate crisis; 4. Racial gerrymandering; 5. Lax worker protections”

@PriceForDel95 “A9: The next generation’s ability to thrive is at stake! This epic Nov 5th Election is going to impact our commonwealth for DECADES. If you have your voting rights, use them. With the district changes, your vote matters even if you felt it hadn’t before. ”

@JennMcClellanVA “Q9: Control of the Virginia House of Delegates came down to drawing a name OUT OF A BOWL …. Because one district’s final vote was tied.”

@Hashmi4Va “A9: From improving public education to ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care, there is SO much at stake in this election. In 2017 we saw elections can come down to just ONE VOTE so make sure yours is counted.”

@SuhasforVA “A9: In 2017, control of the General Assembly came down to one vote. Since this is an “off-year” we need to make sure everyone in VA registers and turns out for the most important election this decade!”

@sheilaforva “On this #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, it’s not about who you support: I want you registered & part of our democracy. It’s why I’m working hard to getting everyone registered—especially our youth like eligible high school seniors & folks on campuses like @VSUTrojans”

@ssurovell “4 yrs ago, only 19K people chose me to represent 215K constituents – that’s common & unacceptable. VA’s legislature doesn’t reflect VA values b/c eligible voters don’t vote. Register online at http://vote.virginia.gov & APPLY TO VOTE BY MAIL at http://eabsentee.org”

@JennMcClellanVA “Q9: Control of the Virginia House of Delegates came down to drawing a name OUT OF A BOWL …. Because one district’s final vote was tied.”

Q10: Everyone loves their hometown! What are your favorite things about your district?#VADemsChat

@Hashmi4Va “A10: I’ve been living and raising a family in the Richmond area for close to 30 years and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the vibrantly diverse community, the gorgeous environment, and the rich culture that makes #SD10 the best place on earth!”

@SuhasforVA “A10: My favorite thing about #HD87 is the incredible diversity. So many cultures and communities call the 87th home, and each of them brings a unique perspective. It also means really great food! It would be an honor to represent the 87th if elected on Nov. 5.”

@ssurovell “Living near outdoor assets like the Potomac, our community’s connection to history via Gen. Washington & George Mason in close proximity to the incredible diversity of the US 1 Corridor, & our strong education systems that ensures our future prosperity.”

@sheilaforva “Chesterfield County & Colonial Heights are all about community & looking out for one another. Like all places, we have our share of improvements to work on. But I just love the friendly faces, our values, & the warmth of our community.”

@C_Herring “The people, the mix of urban convenience with rural/suburban attractions like nearby nature preserves and wild animals that sometimes come & steal from my garden (I am still mourning the fact that I never got to eat my beefsteak tomatoes).”

@JennMcClellanVA “Q10: I love the diversity of SD9. Rural/urban/suburban. Farms, colleges, historic sites, the James River & State Capitol. Fantastic food/art/parks. Wonderful people”


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