Newsletter - September 9, 2019
It is official. Goodbye, Jefferson Davis Highway. Hello, 21st Century.
Thursday morning, Arlington County employees Jacque Hull and Terrance Funchess (pictured below) rose above Route One on a crane, and took down the street sign bearing "Jefferson Davis Highway." They replaced it with "Richmond Highway," its former name, a very ordinary name that is identical to its name in Alexandria and Fairfax and one no longer offensive to Arlington values.
I mention Terrance and Jacque because the sign change was a good reminder that, as important as it is for elected officials to advocate for the values of the communities they represent, it is our public employees who truly put those values into action.
Newsletter - August 20, 2019
Today is the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to Virginia's shores, an event that marks the beginning of almost 250 years of race-based slavery in North America, another century of Jim Crow Laws, and another half-century of uneven progress.
All these years later, we continue to fight to rid our institutions and society of the vestiges of this barbaric, peculiar system. We must always remember America’s Original Sin, so that we may wisely confront the continuing impacts of institutional racism today: in our criminal justice system, in our economy, and in our society.
As we study what happened 400 years ago in Virginia, think how the history of our country — and the history of our world — would have been different if only the Africans forcibly brought to our shores four centuries ago had been treated identically to the Europeans who came here only a dozen years earlier.
Imagine if the English — and later, the USA — had treated African-Americans, women and men, with the same promises of equality and liberty boldly proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence self-evidently endowed by their Creator.
Now imagine if we only did so today...
Newsletter - July 30, 2019
Given my strong feelings that Donald Trump is not just a president I disagree with but the illegitimate embodiment of the greatest threat to American representative democracy in my lifetime, I cannot support him giving the keynote address at Jamestown today. Given my proud support for representative democracy, it is incumbent upon me -- as your representative, on its 400th anniversary here -- to protest Donald Trump's contempt for the United States of America and for all that makes us great as a nation, including our diverse population, our long history as a haven for immigrants, and our representative democracy, replete with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and equality under the law.
Newsletter - July 18, 2019
Immigrants and refugees make America a better place and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Every single day, the occupant of the White House makes clear he doesn't see things the same way. He's fine with the ones who are not black or brown (and has married some of them). But he sees black and brown immigrants and refugees as less than human, a way for him consolidate his power within his racist base.
Last week, I spoke at a Lights for Liberty vigil in Market Square, Alexandria, where hundreds of Alexandrians came together to say, "Not in our name!" I used Biblical imagery, comparing those of us who welcome immigrants to the Sea of Galilee and those of us who shun immigrants to the Dead Sea.
Newsletter - July 12, 2019
My Democratic House colleagues and I, knowing House Republicans were unlikely to give any of our sensible gun-violence prevention proposals a fair hearing, used the standard "Morning Hour" - a time typically reserved for personal speeches and more ceremonial statements - to make the case for our legislative agenda.
The Speaker, well aware that we were trying to do our jobs and actually prevent gun violence while his caucus was determined to do nothing and go home as soon as possible, insisted that no one speak longer than two minutes and that all of us speak no longer than hour.
Unfortunately, the short speeches we gave on the Floor in which we outlined our agenda would be the only opportunity we would have to discuss our bills. We didn't even get to mention all eight of them. That's because Republicans, just 90 minutes after the session began, voted to adjourn the session and ban any debate or discussion of gun bills until after Election Day (November 5, 2019).
Newsletter - July 4, 2019
My annual tradition of hosting friends and supporters for a fun night of food, drinks, and fireworks at my home in North Old Town continues on Saturday, July 13, 7:30-10:30 pm. Raise your glasses of lIme-peach-minT-rum punch and share a drink with me. Lime, peach, mint, and rum taste very sweet together. My parents will be flying in from Nashville to attend.
At last year's Fireworks on the Potomac, almost 200 progressives came out to support turning the legislature blue, and I know I can fit even more folks in my house and on my back lawn this year. (Maybe not in the house but definitely on the lawn!)
Newsletter - June 18, 2019
Last Tuesday, June 11, was Primary Election Day. I want to congratulate the Democratic Primary winners across the Commonwealth, especially the three strong progressives whom I endorsed to represent people in the 45th District: Greg Parks for Alexandria Clerk of Court, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Arlington County and Falls Church Commonwealth's Attorney, and Steve Descano for Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney. I look forward to working with all of them. I also want to congratulate my colleagues in the General Assembly who won their primaries in the three localities I represent: Senators Barbara Favola and Dick Saslaw, and Delegates Kaye Kory and Alfonso Lopez.
Newsletter - June 10, 2019
The primary elections tomorrow are extremely likely to be the only chance you have to determine who wins. By November, you likely won't have a choice in these races. And primaries in off-year elections are far more likely to be decided on very close vote margins.Your vote has a much greater chance of making a difference tomorrow than it does in a Presidential election year. So please get out and vote!
Newsletter - June 6, 2019
As you know, unlike most other states, Virginia has elections in June and November every single year. These primary elections may very well decide who becomes the next general election winner in each of these jurisdictions. So please get out and vote! For my constituents who are still undecided on how they'll be voting, I have made endorsements in each of the three jurisdictions I'm proud to represent. If you have questions about why I've made my choices in any of these races, just ask me.
Newsletter - June 4, 2019
This morning, Governor Northam announced that he will be calling the Virginia General Assembly back to Richmond to convene a special session this summer on gun-safety legislation. I'm very pleased by this decision. I look forward to re-introducing the strong measures I have introduced in the past to protect Virginians against gun violence, to co-patron anew the measures I have supported in the past, and to introduce and support new measures to reduce the scourge of gun violence.