The following is by Katie Sponsler, Democratic candidate for House of Delegates in HD66, currently (mis)represented by Del. Kirk Cox (R), who is retiring. Note that this district went 54.5% for Joe Biden last November, so it is *definitely* winnable for Democrats!
I’m running for House of Delegates to serve my district and my state.
For me it’s really that simple. Politics is supposed to be about public service. I’m in this to be of service to the 66th District and Virginia.
I learned politics in a swing county, in a swing state, surrounded by union workers and voters. My father was a UAW auto worker, and my mother was a secretary for the local church. I helped my uncle get elected as president of the local union, and through it all I formed my belief that we serve our faith best when we serve others.
After I left home, I needed a way to support myself and to support my daughter. The military was a way to be of service, and I joined the United States Air Force in May of 2001 as a weapons loader for F-16 and A-10 aircraft. Four months later, America was at war.
The Air Force provided me with the best and worst experiences of my life. I learned how to better be of service. I worked with a diverse group of folks under extreme conditions, and I dealt with explosives on a daily basis. The military taught me resilience, adaptability, and the value of teamwork.
Today too many people in politics have lost sight of teamwork. Too many people are unwilling to be adaptable. Too many people are not resilient against the voices who would pull us apart.
In the Air Force and later in the National Park Service, I worked to build bridges and to make things better. As a Park Ranger, I created an initiative for local kids. I worked with the mental health community to address addiction and mental illness interactions with the law enforcement communities. I even got to fight some fires, and I was certified as an EMT.
I loved being a Park Ranger, but even the best law enforcement officer in the world cannot change the larger system in which she operates. On this and other issues, we need systemic reform.
My platform has five parts to it: education, healthcare, labor, police reform, and the environment.
I believe we can make our educational system equitable, accessible, and public. Every child should receive the resources they need to achieve their potential. Too many schools in the 66th District have been left behind due to the median income of the community surrounding them. We must ensure that our schools are not privatized, that social workers are at every school, that our educators are paid fairly, and that our facilities are safe regardless of their zip code.
I believe we can make our healthcare system one that puts people before profits. Healthcare needs to include mental health and addiction services. Healthcare must be effective, equitable, affordable, and accessible. We need to get our healthcare practitioners the resources which they need, including the resources needed for their own health.
I believe in respect for labor. I support the rights of workers, including a unionized staff. No matter your job or your education level or where you might be, every worker has the right to be fairly compensated for their labor and to work in a safe environment. We must raise Virginia’s minimum wage, we must make it a living wage, and we must remember that corporations are not people.
I believe in police reform. The system is broken, and when something is broken it’s supposed to get fixed. Profit does not belong in prisons, and not every social ill should be addressed by an arrest. Even the best police officer cannot also be a successful social worker, teacher, and addiction counselor. If we’re willing to properly fund other forms of community support, we can make it so no officer has to try to be everything.
I believe in climate science. More importantly, I believe that every child deserves the safety of clean air and clean water. Right now, Virginia is the second largest importer of solid waste in our nation. That garbage is disproportionately landfilled in the 66th District, which also has multiple zip codes that top the Commonwealth’s list for poor air quality. Environmental justice starts by addressing where and how we expel all types of waste.
Building a better Virginia is personal to me. I ran for office in 2017, but the issues and needs never stop after one election, so since then I’ve been working with advocacy groups and candidates to ensure that the message and the work continues.
We need more leaders committed to accessibility, accountability, and action. Promises don’t put food on the table. Action does.
My platform has five parts to it, but it all really comes down to three words: put people first. That’s my definition of service, and that’s why I’m running.