Click here or see below for video of the Virginia Young Democrats’ gubernatorial forum, starting at 5 pm Saturday. The candidates participating are State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Del. Lee Carter. Enjoy!
UPDATE 6:25 pm – Closing statements. Carter – This primary gives us an opportunity to forge our own path as a party and a Commonwealth. We can set a positive agenda for what we’ll fight for, not just what we’re against. Is only candidate fighting for things like rental control, truly universal healthcare, decriminalizing sex work and immediately ending mass incarceration, making Virginia a “place where wealth is common.” Is the only candidate in this primary who’s never taken a single dime from for-profit corporations. Will go after root cause of problems. Carroll Foy – Virginia is at the pivotal moment, have one change to build back in a way rooted in equity, unite divided Commonwealth, is able to govern…has a record of success. One of first women to graduate from VMI. Knows how to accomplish the mission, get the job done, move Virginia forward with bold solutions. Will get shots in arms, people in jobs. McClellan – Started at age 11 in government/politics, hearing stories about what it’s like to grow up under Jim Crow. Has worked to not leave anybody behind. A Black woman working to eradicate the inequities put in place by people like Harry Byrd. Are we going to have a Virginia post-COVID that is stronger, more equitable? Need to address 401 years of inequity. Need bold plans and also bold action…will build a post-COVID Virginia we can all be proud of and where nobody is left behind.
UPDATE 6:19 pm – If you’re not the Democratic nominee, what is your plan to keep fighting for Virginians after the primary? McClellan – Will continue to do the work as a member of the Senate for as long as the people will have her there. Favorite committee is Finance/Appropriations. We’ve made a lot of progress, generational change…will serve in any capacity as she can. Carter – Is still a member of the General Assembly. One man dominates this field – Terry McAuliffe – and he didn’t have the campaign finance restrictions while he and McClellan were working hard on legislation. Will continue working for results/fighting for people if he’s not elected governor. Carroll Foy – Is excited about being all in running for governor, doesn’t have “one foot in, one foot out.” It is a pivotal moment here in Virginia to build back in a way rooted in equity. Is building a huge grassroots, people-powered movement; there is momentum behind her messaging. Will always “lead from the front” for real change in Virginia. Recruited progressive prosecutors in Northern Virginia (Amy Ashworth, Parisa Tafti, Buta Biberaj). Will keep working to serve people, bring real systemic change.
UPDATE 6:14 pm – What is one policy you’d focus on if you could enact anything you wanted? Carroll Foy – would go for repealing “right to work” laws. Is endorsed by more unions than anyone else, has been standing up for workers. Will pass true collective bargaining bill with no exclusions. Pass true $15 minimum wage that is tied to inflation. Put our money where are mouth is. Uplift workers, women and wages. McClellan – Completely fund our education system and reform it to provide every student with the skills to thrive as an adult. Universal childcare. “This is personal to me…the education system is the key to economic opportunity…a thriving and healthy democracy.” Education quality still depends on the neighborhood and house you live in; that needs to be fixed. Carter – Thanks Carroll Foy for her resounding endorsement of his bill to repeal “Right to Work,” notes that he’s the only one who’s been willing to introduce that bill. One policy would be universal healthcare that covers everyone; says Virginia could do it, cites Austria as an example…expensive for Europe, but still 30% cheaper per capita than our system. Would guarantee healthcare for everyone who calls Virginia home.
UPDATE 6:09 pm – Economic anxiety among young people, student loan debt, etc. Carter – “I’m living a lot of those challenges.” “I don’t own a home…General Assembly does not pay enough to raise a family…had to drive for Lyft.” “I’m fighting these exact same issues day after day.” We need policies to dramatically bring down the price of housing. Education system shouldn’t just be gatekeeper for white-collar jobs. Need to change things across the board, and this is the moment to do it. Carroll Foy – Public service doesn’t necessarily pay well. She became a public defender, foster mom, community organizer. “I know what it’s like to work minimum wage jobs…to live paycheck to paycheck.” Will fight for her “momnibus act.” “Poverty is unjust…immoral.” Raise minimum wage; paid sick days; make healthcare more affordable/accessible; subsidize childcare; affordable housing; invest in programs like the G3 program and two years of free community college…will also fight to bring 50,000 renewable energy jobs. McClellan – glad to hear Del. Carroll Foy endorse her childcare plan, because it’s definitely a big problem. Says she announced a comprehensive economic plan that recognizes intersectionality of many issues. Have to make sure we are creating jobs with livable wages. Cites Virginia Clean Economy Act. Make sure we stabilize/grow small businesses. Become the #1 state for both workers and business. Invest in higher education and a care economy.
UPDATE 5:58 pm – How do you view the governor’s office? McClellan – governor sets the agenda for the legislature, puts budget in place, appoints agency heads, creates government that reflects diversity of the Commonwealth, uses the “bully pulpit,” partners with federal and local government officials. Can uplift voices that have been excluded, can tell true/complete history of Virginia. Carter – Has tried to convince his colleagues that the legislature is a coequal branch of government, but there’s been a lot of reticence among his colleagues to take that power and use it. For far too long, the legislature has tended to act as a rubber stamp for the governor’s agenda. Will use the bully pulpit, governor’s office to set the agenda. Turn a lot of power and authority back to the General Assembly. Carroll Foy – Virginians deserve a governor who has walked in their shoes and understands the challenges they face. Says she understands challenges Virginia families face. “It’s very clear who I’m fighting for and why I’m fighting.” Can set tone, tenor agenda as governor about who we’re fighting for. Need a new leader with clear vision and bold, transformation ideas.
UPDATE 5:50 pm – Juvenile justice system, making sure mistakes in your youth don’t ruin your life. Carroll Foy – has seen this up close and personal representing kids in the criminal justice system. Virginia was the top state school for sending kids from school to prison, and that’s absolutely absurd. Has worked on things such as reducing the amount of time students can be suspended. Will fight for more diversion programs so kids don’t enter the criminal justice system. Build no new juvenile detention facilities. McClellan – The disorderly conduct bill “was actually my bill.” Need to completely lift the cap on state-funded support personnel, full fund the Standards of Quality. Need automatic expungement “for every crime, period,” and get rid of criminalizing substance abuse or mental illness. People need treatment, not arrest/incarceration for things that should be dealt with by social workers. Carter – the school to prison pipeline exists because there is a direct connection between schools and prison. Need to overhaul juvenile justice system “from scratch.” Need to get cops out of schools – that is the one policy that can end school to prison pipeline.
UPDATE 5:45 pm – Time when you thought you were in the right on something but it didn’t go the way you wanted it to? Carter – “That happens a lot as the only socialist in the General Assembly”; has been on the losing side of a lot of 98-1 votes. Only Dem who voted against increasing police budgets. The Amazon deal is another example…he urged his colleagues not to vote for it, but a large majority of them did. Tim Hugo said people are going to be screwed, but he voted for the Amazon deal anyway. Need to recognize that every bill is a fresh start, can’t hold a grudge for more than 30 seconds in the General Assembly. Carroll Foy – You see things through your lens, but hearing different perspectives is importance who can talk about pros/cons of every bill. The vote on legalizing casinos is an example, with very different arguments for (e.g., revenues) and against doing so (e.g., hurting poor people in the community). “It is always a push and pull…but it’s not an easy job.” Need to stand up for the people, not just for special interests, and always do what’s right to move Virginia forward. McClellan – 14 years in the minority party, there are too many examples to count. Persistence is key. The first vote she took was to vote no on the Marshall-Newman anti-same-sex-marriage amendment…and she lost, but this year we passed an amendment to repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment and to put an affirmative right to marriage in the constitution. So you need to just keep moving forward. Also fought the first transvaginal ultrasound bill and the TRAP laws. Kept persisting, and now has succeeded in repealing those laws.
UPDATE 5:42 pm – Strong new generation of Democrats to come after you? McClellan – make sure young people are at the table and are listened to, and explain to people why they need to care and get involved. Says she got involved at age 11. You’re never too young to begin to fight for what’s right. Always have and always will center young people. Carter – Is the youngest candidate in the field, “only 33.” Is directly taking on entrenched interests, people who don’t want to make room for new people and new voices. Carroll Foy – Recruiting young people at Petersburg High School to go to VMI, creating pipelines from high schools to institutes of higher learning; started Ella Baker program for young people to better understand how government works. We need more progressive leaders in Richmond, including young people who are “next up.”
UPDATE 5:36 pm – Opportunities to work across the aisle? Carroll Foy – Deploying broadband is an example. “It is our job to represent ALL Virginians…It is important to bring everyone along.” Also cites good schools, jobs, transportation, quality of life. But…”I will never compromise my values as a Democrat.” McClellan – Was proud to carry the civic engagement bill bill. Passed a bill that both Planned Parenthood and Family Foundation agreed on. Definitely can find common ground…the first step is to understand their perspective and unapologetically share yours (e.g., how racism and white supremacy impacts every issue in Virginia). Carter – Approaches bipartisan differently than most Democrats. Has had the least partisan voting record in the House, because sometimes he disagrees with both parties that are wrong. Doesn’t seek bipartisan compromise as its own goal, but seeks the best policy in and of itself (e.g., the insulin copay cap, banning strip searching of children).
UPDATE 5:28 pm – Biggest challenge you faced in career? Carter – Recognizing when someone is not engaging in good faith. A lot of people act more on what’s in their best interest rather than in everyone’s best interest. Carroll Foy – Sometimes you stand alone when you do things like stand for the poorest Virginians. The job is to do what’s right, ensure justice and fairness, it’s what’s needed in Richmond. McClellan – As a Black woman, entering perspectives that are overlooked in the General Assembly, including people who are in pain or have problems that need to be solved. We’re still not reflective of the full diversity of Virginia. Put your head down, do the work, keep centering those perspectives even if nobody wants to hear it.
UPDATE: 5:24 pm – Most important skills/qualities for governor? McClellan – Listening empathetically, bringing people together from different perspectives to work on how to solve problems. The hardest part is trying to understand someone you disagree with vehemently. Carter – Being unafraid to lead from the first on an issue, be the first person out there, speaking on an issue with moral clarity regardless of what the polls say. Also, recognizing when kumbaya is not possible, understand when people are not coming to the table in good faith. Carroll Foy – Making evidence based decisions, listening to experts and the science, focusing on what unites us and not what divides us. Challenging special interests in Richmond, shaking up the status quo.
UPDATE 5:23 pm– What would you tell your 15-year-old self? Carroll Foy – Ignore the naysayers, believe that there are no boundaries…blaze trails where none exist, keep on going. McClellan – Don’t be afraid to fail, because from failure you learn the greatest life lessons and how to keep going. Carter – Never get on social media, it’s a trap and it’s not worth it.
UPDATE 5:22 pm – COVID skill or hobby? Carter – “stress cooking…a lot.” Carroll Foy – power napping, sleeping sitting up when the kids take a nap. McClellan – Binge watching Lucifer and Titan.
UPDATE 5:19 pm – Best musician of all time? Carroll Foy says Prince, Whitney Houston, Earth Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin, Green Day…right now, Beyonce is going non-stop. McClellan says Prince, cites his guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Carter says Prince in terms of pure musical talent and that we’ll never know the greatest musician of all time because they probably never got the opportunity.
UPDATE 5:18 pm – Pets? Carter has a cat named Verity, loves to hunt everybody’s legs. Carroll Foy says right now she has two three-year-olds but no pets. McClellan said she had a dog that she got when she was six months pregnant, but he passed away last July very suddenly.
UPDATE 5:17 pm – Now they’re talking about kids’ TV characters they hate. LOL
UPDATE 5:15 pm – What did you want to be as a kid? Carroll Foy says her teacher laughed in her face when she said she wanted to be president, that it was the first time she was ever told no. McClellan said she wanted to be a veterinarian, but figured out she didn’t like blood or pain, was too empathetic to deal with that. Carter wanted to be a physicist until he found out how much math is involved.
UPDATE 5:14 pm – What is the first thing you do in the morning? Carter says he takes a really long bath and read the news; Carroll Foy says she cuddles with her twins; McClellan says she makes her coffee and catches up on her favorite TV show until kids are ready to go to school.
UPDATE 5:13 pm – Carter, Carroll Foy and McClellan just gave their opening statements.