RICHMOND (May 1, 2021) – Attorney General Herring released the below statement celebrating legislation that he and his team worked with Delegate Elizabeth Guzman on that allows public employees to collectively bargain. The legislation was enacted into law today:
“Virginia’s workers are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Now, local public employees have the ability to be recognized as a labor union, allowing themselves to organize and advocate for the benefits they deserve,” said Attorney General Herring. “I am proud to have worked alongside Delegate Guzman and other labor advocates to craft this important legislation and ensure its passage. For too long, Virginia’s worker protection laws have been too weak, and I will continue this fight to strengthen protections for the people who keep our communities moving forward.”
During his time in office, Attorney General Herring says he has worked hard to protect workers in Virginia. In March, Attorney General Herring announced the designation of the Virginia Attorney General’s first Worker Protection Unit, a multidisciplinary team of prosecutors and attorneys within the Office of Attorney General, led by a dedicated criminal prosecutor, that focuses on investigating, stopping, and prosecuting individuals and businesses who unlawfully engage in worker exploitation, in addition to educating Virginia workers on their rights. As its first area of focus, the team is focusing on worker misclassification, wage theft, and payroll fraud, and work to coordinate efforts across state government with the goal of bringing cases and enforcement actions to stop worker exploitation.
Glass ceiling on statewide offices remains for black women
Four Black women have entered the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race. If elected, the commonwealth would become the first state with a Black female governor.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, are competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson is seeking the Republican nomination. Independent activist and educator Princess Blanding is running for the new Liberation Party, which she helped establish last year.
Former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-New York, made history in 1972 when she became the first Black woman to seek a U.S. presidential nomination for a major political party. Almost 50 years later, the road to electing a Black woman to a governorship or the presidency has yet to be traveled.
“The next time a woman of whatever color, or a dark-skinned person of whatever sex aspires to be president, the way should be a little smoother because I helped pave it,” Chisholm said in 1973 regarding her unsuccessful presidential bid.
Dearth of representation
Since Chisholm was elected, 50 Black women have served in Congress or federal office, according to the Center for American Women and Politics database. Ten Black women have held statewide executive offices such as lieutenant governor or attorney general, according to the same database. No Black woman has ever been elected governor, although former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, came close in a 2018 hotly contested election.
Carroll Foy said the nation’s history limits what some citizens view as a capable candidate.
“Unfortunately, people look to the past to try to dictate what can happen in the future,” she said. “When people see women of color running for higher office, we are seen as the exception and not the rule.”
Organizations dedicated to electing women to an office such as EMILY’S List, Higher Heights, and EMERGE aim to make the paths to the office more accessible in recent years, providing advice, contributions, and peer support to women candidates.
McClellan said when she first ran for a House seat in 2005, she had very little guidance and few mentors.
“There was no collective PAC, there was no EMERGE, you know, groups that have since formed to help Black candidates and women candidates and Black women candidates. They weren’t there,” McClellan said. “I had to really do it on my own, with help from the handful of people who had done it before me.”
The media often poorly represents women in politics, according to Political Parity, a research group that recruits and supports women candidates. Often, media coverage surrounding women running for office adds unnecessary details about a woman candidate’s clothing, weight, qualifications, motherhood situation, and emotional maturity, according to the same report.
“Whether it’s questions about their parenting or their husbands, it’s just questions that we don’t see male candidates get,” said Kristen Hernandez, deputy director of campaign communications for EMILY’S List, an organization devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. “We’ve seen sexist rhetoric, misogynistic comments, and racist tropes as well.”
McClellan said perhaps the most consistent troubling narrative she sees in the media surrounding her campaign are questions about her qualifications. McClellan said she has more experience than all her Democratic opponents combined.
“There never seems to be a question, when a white man runs for governor, but yet for us it’s, ‘Are you ready?’” McClellan said. “If I’m not ready after 16 years in state government, when would I ever be ready?”
McClellan said she also frequently sees herself and Carroll Foy lumped together in news articles, as they are both Black women who have served in the state legislature. A New York Times analyst hypothesized last month that McAuliffe might win the Democratic primary race because three of his competitors — McClellan, Carroll Foy, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — are Black, younger, and generally more left-wing than McAuliffe.
Voters typically prefer candidates that most resemble themselves, according to a study published in an Oxford Academic Journal. This tendency suggests that Black women must also convince all constituents that despite being Black, they do not solely represent Black Virginians. Instead, most see themselves as the most qualified person for the job who just so happens to be a Black woman.
“I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud,” Chisholm said during a campaign event in ’72. “I am not the candidate of the woman’s [sic] movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that.”
Even now the persistent myth that Black candidates can only win in majority-minority districts continues to plague America’s political scene, according to the Brookings Institute, a public policy organization headquartered in the District of Columbia. But of the five non-incumbent Black women elected to Congress in 2018, all were Democrats and four won in majority-white districts, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
One of the biggest barriers to elected office is the ability to raise campaign funds. The ability to fund a campaign continues to be a major obstacle to success for many women, not just women of color, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. The Center also found that candidates often receive party support based on their fundraising potential, which disadvantages candidates without notoriety, wealthy support networks or self-funding abilities. Donors who fund political campaigns are often wealthy, white, and typically male, according to Demos, a Liberal think tank. These donors, according to the same report, also have different views and priorities, especially on the issues that matter most to Black women.
Blanding is the sister of the late Marcus-David Peters, a Black man shot and killed by a Richmond Police officer while he experienced what his family said was a mental health crisis. Blanding said fundraising is an ongoing struggle. She recalled looking at the first financial records report from the Board of Elections and said she could not help but “crack up laughing” at the amount she raised compared to other candidates.
“But guess what? I have volunteers who are working around the clock to get the same results that they are paying for,” Blanding said. “That means a whole lot more to me.”
Carroll Foy raised just over $1.8 million in the first quarter, while McClellan raised roughly half a million dollars, according to a Capital News Service analysis of fundraising reports. Carroll Foy resigned from her seat to fundraise. General Assembly members can not fundraise until the session adjourns. Blanding raised almost $12,000 in the first quarter and Johnson raised $800. Altogether, all four women have raised just over half of what Democratic frontrunner and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe raised.
Aprill Turner, vice president of communications and external affairs for Higher Heights for America, said all women must run against a “boys’ club.” Higher Heights for America is a political action committee that seeks to mobilize and elevate the voices of Black women across the country. Turner said the path to elected offices has typically been paved by white men, and usually involves network connections and exclusive organizations that people of color and women have historically been unable to access.
“You’ll see men groomed in a different way, or almost appointed,” Turner said. “Like, ‘You’ve got next,’ and kind of that little boys’ network.”
Will the statewide glass ceiling remain intact?
Former Del. Winsome Sears, R-Winchester, is running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Sears was elected to a majority-Black district in 2002, becoming the first Republican to do so in Virginia since 1865. If she won the seat she would be the first Black woman to ever serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. Fairfax, who currently holds the seat, was the first Black man elected to serve in this position.
Carroll Foy and McClellan will both compete for the Democratic Party’s nomination on June 8. Johnson competes in the Republican Party’s unassembled convention taking place statewide on May 8. Blanding will make it to the November ballot if she collects 2,000 signatures by June 8, which she is confident she will achieve.
Carroll Foy feels confident she will win the election.
“We’re mobilizing and organizing more people of color, more people from the AAPI community, from the Latinx community, the Indigenous community, the millennials, more women than ever before,” Carroll Foy said, regarding her campaign. “We’re building the most diverse coalition of voters and supporters that Virginia has ever seen.”
Early voting is underway for the Democratic primary on June 8.
By Josephine Walker
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
Virginal National Guard to be deployed to Middle East for Federal active duty
Governor Ralph Northam announced on May 5, 2021, that Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins will deploy for federal active duty in the Middle East. Secretary Hopkins is a Colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard and will be deploying with the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division. Hopkins has served in the Northam Administration since inauguration and has played a critical role in making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs will serve as Acting Secretary.
“I know I speak for my fellow veterans in thanking Secretary Hopkins for his leadership over the past three years,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia is home to more than 721,000 men and women who have served this country and Commonwealth, and Secretary Hopkins has been an unwavering advocate for our military and veterans communities. While his absence will certainly be felt across our Administration, it is only fitting that Secretary Hopkins would be stepping up to serve our nation with the Virginia National Guard. I am grateful for his dedicated service, and I wish him a safe and successful mission.”
Virginia’s Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs is the Commonwealth’s top official for coordinating state and federal resources to support Virginia’s veteran and the military community. Under Secretary Hopkin’s leadership, more than 35,000 Virginia veterans were hired through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, which helps transitioning service members find jobs in the civilian workforce. Secretary Hopkins has overseen a significant expansion in services for women veterans—who make up a larger portion of Virginia’s population than any other state—and has led Virginia’s efforts to increase mental health services and prevent suicide among active and returning service members.
“It has been an honor to serve alongside Secretary Hopkins these past few years,” said Kathleen Jabs, newly-appointed Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “I am proud of all we have accomplished thus far, and I look forward to continuing Virginia’s legacy as the best state for veterans, service members, and their families.”
Prior to joining the Northam Administration in 2019, Kathleen Jabs served as Deputy Director of Management and Public Affairs at the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She retired from the United States Navy as a Captain with twenty-seven years of service and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy.
This spring, more than 500 soldiers of the 29th will begin a 10-month-long deployment in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control, and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division will conduct mobilization training in Maryland and Virginia and then report to Fort Hood, Texas, for the final mobilization training before deployment to the Middle East.
About the 29th Infantry Division:
Known as the Blue and Gray Division, the 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its origins date back to World War I and are most known for its participation in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach in World War II. Its wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard.
The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, and the 29th Infantry Band are aligned under the 29th. The division currently has training relationships with the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and Alabama, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina and West Virginia, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from Maryland, the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Alabama, the 113th Sustainment Brigade from North Carolina and the 142nd Fires Brigade from Arkansas.
From October 2001 to April 2002, the 29th Infantry Division was mobilized on federal active duty as the headquarters for Multinational Division (North), Task Force Eagle, in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the 10th rotation of NATO’s peace stabilization forces known as the NATO-led Stabilization Force. Task Force Eagle provided command and control for units from the Army National Guard as well as forces from more than 11 other nations.
Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division served on federal active duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012 when they conducted two rotations assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Afghan National Security Force Development Team. During that time they served as advisers and mentors to senior Afghan leaders with the mission to provide Afghan national army and national police subject-matter expertise to facilitate ANSF growth and development.
Prior to their service in Afghanistan, Maryland and Virginia Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division deployed overseas for peacekeeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007.
Governor Northam proclaims first week in May as Virginia Public Service Week
On May 3, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam declared May 3–7, 2021 as Virginia Public Service Week to recognize the dedication of federal, state, local, and tribal government employees in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The annual observance honors approximately 701,500 public sector employees who work on behalf of Virginia residents.
“The past year has been extremely difficult—and our public employees continue to rise to the occasion, going above and beyond to serve their communities and fellow Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “From those on the front lines to others who are behind the scenes, this week we have an important opportunity to salute the hard work of thousands of people who help make our Commonwealth the best place to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”
Governor Northam shared a new video message celebrating the more than 124,000 state employees in Virginia who are answering the call of public service with commitment, professionalism, and creativity.
In Virginia, an estimated 17 percent of the workforce is employed by the government. During Virginia Public Service Week, public agencies and institutions of higher education recognize their employees through awards and special activities. Virtual programs will be held for state employees again this year, including a special tour of the Executive Mansion grounds, a cooking lesson from Executive Chef Ed Gross, and microlearning sites.
“We depend on our employees and their dedication each and every day,” said Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson. “As in years past, this week provides an opportunity for team-building, connecting, and interacting among employee teams.”
Virginia Public Service Week is also an opportunity for employees to recognize their co-workers, particularly those who volunteer through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) in their communities, which raised nearly $2 million in just the last year.
“Taking time to simply say thank you, whether from a manager or a co-worker, lets an employee know they are seen and what they did matters to someone else, too,” said Emily S. Elliott, Director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management. “It’s important that we lift each other up during challenging times and remind one another just how important and purpose-driven our service to the Commonwealth really is.”
The full text of Governor Northam’s proclamation can be found here.
ChildSavers hosts seminar to navigate pandemic mental health challenges
It has been a long year since the pandemic upended life last March, including for parents and caregivers.
The Richmond-based nonprofit ChildSavers aims to help parents and caregivers navigate mental health challenges amid a return to in-person learning, with solutions that include transparency and communication with children about the pandemic.
In addition to the work ChildSavers does with local schools, they also provide support for parents and caregivers. The organization is offering seminars to help caregivers plan for school reopening as well as other activities that involve interaction with others.
The first seminar took place on April 22. Four panelists shared activities they have done with their children during the pandemic, such as picnics and learning how to ride bikes. More than 60 people attended the event over Zoom and the event was live-streamed on Facebook Live. Caregivers were allowed to ask questions throughout.
Dr. Danny TK Avula, a panelist and the director of the Richmond City and Henrico County health departments, discussed the importance of vaccinations for caregivers and parents so they can resume “normalcy.”
Panelists also discussed interactions and time with their children since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many of them have been in quarantine with their children since last March.
The Rev. Marvin Gilliam of Mount Carmel Baptist Church said he has been quarantined with his three children whose ages range from 2 to 6 years old. Children have been tenacious during the pandemic and have effectively managed their frustrations, said Gilliam, a ChildSavers community board member.
“Their vulnerability with us when something is wrong has been just incredible,” Gilliam said.
Children have struggled with loneliness and a lack of social interaction, which is needed for mental development, Gilliam said.
“The social aspect is such a key part of the developmental process that we see in the educational system for our young people,” Gilliam said. “I definitely believe that that relational piece is going to be something that our young people, while resilient, we’ll see some impacts from that as well.”
In the initial months of the pandemic, 14% of parents said their children’s behavioral health worsened, according to a June 2020 survey in the journal Pediatrics. During that same time, 27% of parents reported worsening mental health for themselves. Children’s mental health-related visits to the emergency rooms increased from April 2020 to October 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Panelists encouraged caretakers to look at the pandemic from their child’s perspective.
“It’s helping adults look at the child’s perspective and helping adults affirm the good jobs that they’ve seen kids do, helping do some unlearning of what we may have done wrong in the transition and really hitting a reset and then looking for a new normal for each family,” said Bob Nickles, program manager for school-based mental health services at ChildSavers.
ChildSavers also provides therapy to children from pre-K-12 in the Richmond metropolitan area. The organization places school therapists within high-need schools and provides children the space to get mental health assistance, Nickles said.
“They’re right there to consult with a speech therapist, a school psychologist, the school counselor, school social worker, any people who are making discipline decisions about our children,” Nickles said.
Richmond Public Schools asked ChildSavers five years ago to provide mental health care for its students. Childsavers will serve 10 schools in Richmond for the upcoming fall, according to Nickles. Most of the schools are pre-K to eighth grade, but the organization also hopes to work with high school students.
“There’ve been some really heartbreaking moments in the news lately around some of our high school-aged kids,” Nickles said. “We’d love to work more specifically in a high school space.”
ChildSavers will hold the remaining seminars on May 6 and May 13 at 8 p.m. Anyone can register by visiting Eventbrite. ChildSavers will broadcast the panels on Facebook.
The CDC also offers a COVID-19 parental resources kit on its website.
By Sam Fowler
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
AG Herring continues his effort to have Equal Rights Amendment added to Constitution
RICHMOND (May 3, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is appealing a lower court ruling that granted a request filed by the Trump Department of Justice and Republican attorneys general to dismiss his landmark civil rights lawsuit to have the Equal Rights Amendment recognized as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General Herring joins Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford in filing a notice of appeal today in their ongoing fight to have the Equal Rights Amendment rightfully added to the Constitution.
“The United States cannot continue forcing women to wait to be recognized as equal under this country’s founding document,” said Attorney General Herring. “Throughout the years, efforts to have the Equal Rights Amendment added to the Constitution have been met with many impediments, but every single time this movement has overcome those hurdles and come out the other side stronger than ever. To those who have sent a clear message that they do not believe in women’s equality – it’s time that you move into the 21st century.
“I will continue this fight for as long as it takes to finally have the Equal Rights Amendment recognized as the 28th amendment and added to the Constitution. It has been a privilege to take up this mantle and stand alongside those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring women’s equality in this country and I won’t let up until we are successful.”
On January 30, 2020, Attorney General Herring sued to ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment was recognized as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, following Virginia’s ratification of the ERA. In May last year, In May, the Trump Administration filed a motion to dismiss Attorney General Herring’s lawsuit, seeking to block gender equality from being added to the Constitution. In June, Attorney General Herring filed a brief opposing the Trump Administration’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit. Also last year, Attorney General Herring moved for summary judgment in his landmark civil rights lawsuit, as well as filed a brief opposing the intervening states’ (Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Tennessee) motion for summary judgment.
Additionally, in March, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to lift the arbitrary deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment.
Virginia Lottery’s sixth annual “Thank a Teacher” campaign honors educators across the Commonwealth
Governor Ralph Northam has proclaimed May 3–7, 2021 as Teacher Appreciation Week in the Commonwealth and is encouraging all Virginians to participate by sending personalized thank-you notes to recognize educators for their service and dedication to students. This year’s sixth annual Thank a Teacher campaign, sponsored by the Virginia Lottery in partnership with the Virginia Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and The Supply Room, celebrates the important role of teachers in Virginia and highlights the talent of young artists by featuring student artwork on each thank you note.
“While this school year looks unlike any other, one thing remains the same—teachers are the driving force in equipping our children with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary for success,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia’s teachers have risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and during Teacher Appreciation Week we have a special opportunity to show them our gratitude. I encourage Virginians across the Commonwealth to join us in recognizing all those who are investing their time and talent to ensure every student is served equitably and shaping the lives of our future leaders in more creative ways than ever before.”
More than 100,000 thank-you cards have been sent to Virginia teachers during the first five years of the campaign. To send a digital thank-you note, or to request hard copy notes for your school, please visit thankateacherva.com. Hard copy notes also are available through participating PTA chapters and at all Virginia Lottery customer service centers. Digital and hard copy thank-you notes may be sent to teachers through Friday, May 7.
Qualifying teachers who receive a thank-you note can enter a drawing for a chance to win one of two Virginia vacations from the Virginia Lottery and $5,000 in credit for their school from The Supply Room.
“Our superhero teachers have gone above and beyond for students over the past year,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “From early childhood to K-12, Virginia educators have quickly adjusted to new guidelines and are providing students with a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment to return to throughout the Commonwealth. This week, let’s thank them for going the extra mile every day for Virginia’s children.”
For the fourth year in a row, the thank-you notes feature the beautiful designs of three student artists selected through the Virginia Lottery’s “Thank a Teacher” Art Contest. The winning entries were created by Sarah Saravanan, a first-grade student at McNair Lower Elementary School in Fairfax County, Karmare Brownlee, an eighth-grade student at Tabb Middle School in York County, and Andrew Gibson, a senior at Gretna High School in Pittsylvania County.
Each winning student-artist received a $150 gift card from the Virginia Lottery. The art department at each winner’s school also received $1,000 from the Virginia Lottery and a $1,000 credit from The Supply Room.
“Every day, thousands of teachers are working to make a difference in the lives of our children and, consequently, Virginia’s future,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Teachers choose their profession because they are passionate about enriching the lives of the students who fill their classrooms. As your Secretary of Education, a former teacher, and a public school parent, I invite you to take a few moments to write a thank-you note to the teachers that sacrifice so much for our students.”
“Virginia’s K-12 public school teachers have always been a valuable and important resource for the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “The Thank a Teacher campaign is a great opportunity to celebrate those teachers who have moved heaven and earth to continue supporting Virginia students and their families during these challenging days.”
Authorized by Virginia voters in a successful 1987 referendum, Virginia Lottery players generate more than $1.6 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, lottery customers helped generate more than $595 million in funding for public education. The Virginia Lottery has been the source of more than $10 billion for public schools since 1999.