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Agee Mill near Stuart, VA -Patrick County. Photo by Kipp Teague


"I may be David going against Goliath because I don’t have an “R” by my name, but I believe and have faith in the voters in Southwest Virginia to help send me to Richmond."
It is not enough to say we need affordable housing. What we need in Southwest Virginia is “safe” and affordable housing. There are not enough rental units in our region.
And if you have poor credit, you will most likely have to rent a substandard dwelling or apartment for an inflated monthly rental fee. We need the same quality housing at affordable rentals in our region as in other Virginia jurisdictions.
Our region does not have enough quality childcare providers. Currently, 65% of children under six years old have parents in the workforce in southwest Virginia. If you are lucky enough, you have a relative or friend willing to babysit for you for free or at reduced rates. If not, you struggle to find a childcare provider you can trust and afford.
If a parent cannot find that person to watch their child while they work, they cannot earn an income and support their family. Our economy is only as healthy as the support we provide working parents.
Responsible Gun Ownership
Who isn’t saddened and feels heartache whenever
we turn on the news and see the smiling faces of innocent children who have been brutally murdered in mass killings? We live in a country where we should be able to go to school, the mall, church, or the supermarket without fearing for our lives.
How can we create legislation that provides common-sense gun ownership? One way is to have stricter gun safety policies, such as requiring guns to be stored safely. We need stringent background checks so people who should not be armed don’t slip through the system.
We need to have a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Our children d
eserve to reach adulthood and experience the joy of proms, marriage, and their children.
Women’s Rights
Women continue to struggle with inequality in America. For instance, when it comes to employment and workplace policies, women are often forced out of the workplace when they become pregnant. Even though women make up half of the workforce, they still don’t make as much money as men.
Women still only make about 77 cents to every dollar men earn. It is even more difficult for women of color. Black women only earn 64 cents, and Latina women only make 54 cents for every dollar men earn. Without sufficient income, women are often stuck in the cycle of poverty with no way out.
In addition, with the recent decision regarding Roe vs. Wade, many women lost the right to make choices regarding their bodies, health, and well-being. What should be a profoundly personal decision has now been stripped from many females in our country. Women in Virginia are under attack regarding their reproductive freedom rights. Women should have the right to decide when to start a family.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said the court decision means that "young women today will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers."
Indeed, the court's opinion suggests that "from the moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term even at the steepest personal and familial costs"
It doesn’t take long to figure out they are in poor condition when you drive down our roads. Riding up to Northern Virginia or along the Eastern Shore, you will see where many of our funds will fix roads and bridges.
We need those funds to come our way to improve our quality of life and to make our roads and bridges a safer way to travel. In addition, we need good, affordable, quality broadband to be competitive in the world of employment and for our children to have quality access to their educational needs.
Mental Health/Substance Abuse Disorder
Southwest Virginia has an epidemic of mental health issues and substance abuse disorders. We do not have enough resources in our region to combat this epidemic.
In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, fatal overdoses increased by nearly 48 percent over the previous year. At the same time, the number of approved prescribers in Virginia jumped by 246 percent, and Medicaid members diagnosed with opioid use disorder climbed by nearly 54 percent.
In 2021, 39.6% of Virginians reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. We need more counselors, treatment centers, and resources for families dealing with this epidemic. We need to have a greater awareness, understanding, and acceptance of mental health and substance abuse disorder issues with fewer stigmas.
Campaign Finance Reform
Legislation is needed to expand Americans' access to the ballot box. Every American should be able to exercise their right to vote without undue restrictions and barriers. In addition, we need to reduce the influence of big money in politics.
Elections should not be bought by the rich and powerful who are not concerned about the average American but are only driven by greed.
Also, we need to strengthen ethics rules for public servants and implement anti-corruption measures. Lawmakers must be held accountable for their actions and not abuse their power.
Worker’s Rights
Virginia is an at-will employment state, meaning employers can let go of employees without reason or notice. One exception to this law is if you have an employment contract. However, most working people don’t have contracts that protect them. Instead, they are living paycheck to paycheck with no guarantee of a job tomorrow.
In addition, workers in Virginia have the right to earn a living wage. Employers that provide their employees a living wage offer them the opportunity not to have to rely on public assistance or for help from their families. This would give individuals and families the ability to support themselves and their families, to be self-sufficient, and proud of 
their accomplishments.
Climate Crisis
There are different views about why we are having such a shift in climate and weather, but there is one thing that everyone can agree on. That is that we only have one planet to live on. If things get bad, we can’t just pick up and move somewhere else.
We already feel the impact of warmer weather, of too little or too much rain. It impacts our farmers, our health, and our economy. We must be like our grandparents, who reduced, reused, repaired, and recycled almost everything. We need to save energy at home and on our bills.
We need to be more aware of our driving habits, not to mention that it will keep on our gas bills. We need to take care of the one planet we have for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
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