by Tom Hicks – a resident of Montpelier, VA, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former nuclear submarine officer, engineering consultant and a former Democratic Candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter @tomhicksva1.
This coming November, Virginia residents will select our next governor. Over the past three years, behind the leadership of the current Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled legislature, significant legislative accomplishments have been achieved, including the expansion of Medicaid, increases in the minimum wage, reforms to the criminal justice system, decriminalization of marijuana use, the passage of common-sense gun safety legislation, and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. To build upon these successes, Virginia’s next governor should have significant legislative and community experience, a progressive vision for the future, a track record of professional accomplishments, and the integrity necessary to gain the confidence of the people. After a review of the announced candidates, I have determined that state Senator Jennifer McClellan possesses all of these characteristics and is the best choice for Virginia’s next governor.
Senator McClellan is a compelling candidate. She is the daughter of community leaders and educators raised in the segregated South during the Great Depression. She is a graduate of University of Virginia law school. During her service as a constituent services-oriented legislator, representing the greater Richmond area for 11 years in the House of Delegates and 4 years in the Senate, she has channeled her vast experience and energy into using government as a force for progressive change to solve problems and promote equity and justice in the Commonwealth. She has the leadership and experience necessary to hit the ground running once elected.
Senator McClellan’s progressive approach to problem solving has led to the passage of landmark laws to invest in education, grow small business, expand access to health care, ban discrimination and inequity, safeguard workers’ rights and voting rights, reform the criminal justice system, protect a woman’s right to choose, and tackle climate change. Looking forward, her agenda includes continued work to strengthen our public schools, further reform of the criminal justice system, expand access to affordable health care and revitalize the economy in every Virginia community.
My personal interactions with Senator McClellan have reinforced to me her more widespread reputation as a leader in the community, the Democratic Party, and in her years of service as a legislator in the Virginia General Assembly. As a community leader at the local, state, and national level, Senator McClellan has served on a wide variety of non-profit and civic organizations’ boards, including the YWCA of Richmond, the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, the Black History Museum, and the Southern Regional Education Board. These experiences demonstrate her commitment as a dedicated public servant, someone who has always put Virginia’s best interest first.
Recent success of the Virginia Democratic Party in state-wide elections can be attributed in large part to the quality of its candidates and candidate selection will be equally important in determining the outcome in November’s general election. It is critical that the Democratic Party select a nominee for governor that can not only best represent the party’s values but represent the interests of all Virginia’s residents. The Democratic gubernatorial primary may well be a slugfest with five announced candidates. Notwithstanding, Senator McClellan brings to the race her long history of leadership and positive accomplishments without any accompanying political baggage that opponents could use to question her integrity or progressive credentials.
More than any of the other announced gubernatorial candidates, Senator McClellan can best advance progressive ideas while attracting a broad and diverse population of Virginia voters. She is my choice.