We need common sense gun laws, including universal background checks, and surveys confirm that most voters support such legislation. Sheila’s daughter was shot while attending a house party. Fortunately, her daughter survived, but this experience has made Sheila a vocal champion for gun safety laws in the commonwealth.
In contrast, Speaker Cox has earned himself an “A” rating from the NRA for his consistent opposition to common sense gun safety legislation. After the horrific shooting in Virginia Beach, the speaker callously remarked that considering even basic universal background checks would be “hasty and suspect.” Speaker Cox has single handedly prevented stronger gun violence prevention laws in Virginia House of Delegates, and the people of Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights deserve better.
Women’s rights are under attack in this country, and Virginia is no exception. It is crucial to win more seats in our state legislature. Bills affecting a woman’s right to choose will be on the ballot next year, and we must protect a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.
Additionally, the Equal Rights Amendment needs only one more state to ratify it, yet Speaker Cox refused to let the ERA come to a vote on the floor last year. Clearly Republicans will not advance women’s causes in our state.
Speaker Cox is failing us when it comes to protecting our environment. As the primary Republican leader in Virginia, Cox has not spoken out against the president’s dangerous proposal to drill for oil off our pristine waters. Offshore drilling must be off limits in the commonwealth; I will co-sponsor legislation on day one of the next session to ensure that our coastline remains beautiful and oil spill free.
Cox’s abysmal record does not stop with drilling. With reports that at least seventeen public schools in Chesterfield County have dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water, the speaker clearly does not even care if his own constituents live in a safe environment. It is outrageous that Chesterfield County residents do not even have access to safe drinking water—Sheila will make clean water and air one of her top priorities for her legislative agenda.
Unlike her opponent, Sheila also strongly believes climate change represents an existential threat to Virginia and the country at-large, especially to communities of color. Speaker Cox’s priority is to ensure that the commonwealth does not join neighboring states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); Sheila not only wants to join but also wants to accelerate Virginia’s timeline to become a carbon-neutral economy and a regional hub for green jobs.
Criminal Justice Reform
The criminal justice system is inherently unjust and is not doing the job for which it was intended. The system leads to the incarceration of far too many, particularly for drug crimes. People of every race use illegal drugs at similar rates, yet African-Americans are far more likely to be imprisoned than whites. African-Americans are 3-4 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes and 9 times more likely to be imprisoned. Additionally, our legislature has shown no interest in helping inmates successfully reintegrate into our communities and productively contribute to society. Nor are they interested in restoring the constitutional right to vote to felons who have done their time.
Teachers in Virginia face significant challenges. They are underpaid, as salaries have remained stagnant while living costs continue to soar. The current legislature has not adequately funded our schools, and the result is crumbling buildings and overcrowded classrooms. Excellent public education is crucial to ensure our graduates can meet the needs of Virginia’s businesses and to enhance property values in our state.
Sheila is strong support of LGBTQ rights here in Virginia. Equality is equality. Period. She believes that no one should be discriminated against because of their identity—especially in the workplace or at home.
Speaker Cox killed several crucial pieces of legislation that would have protected the LGBTQ community, bills that received overwhelming bipartisan support from the State Senate. Kirk Cox is completely out of touch with Virginians who demand that folks are treated fairly.
Virginia’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25 for years, despite the escalating cost of living. Juggling several jobs is not uncommon, in an effort to make ends meet. Sheila believes that if someone works 40 hours a week, they should be able to provide for their families, and she will work towards that goal.
Kirk Cox has a long history of opposing raising the minimum wage, and as speaker, has ensured that Virginia has one of the lowest in the country. Although he claims he is “sympathetic with people that are struggling with wages,” he continues to oppose all efforts to help working families in the Richmond area.