RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On Wednesday, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) formally announced her bid for governor. Carroll Foy is hoping to replace Gov. Ralph Northam, whose term ends in January 2022.
She joins what’s expected to be a crowded field. Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) has already announced her bid for the Republican ticket.
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Attorney General Mark Herring, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe have also signaled their intentions.
On Tuesday, 8News interviewed Carroll Foy prior to her announcement.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
What should people know about your experience?
I was elected to the General Assembly in 2017, flipping my district from red to blue.
I think what will make me unique is that I dedicated my life to public service. I was a foster parent, a public defender and also helped organize for Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
If elected you would be the first female governor in Virginia and the fist female, African American governor in the United States. Why is this the right time for that kind of leadership?
I’m honored to be in a position to change what the face of leadership in Virginia looks like and I’m laser focused on bringing diverse, high paying jobs every corner of the Commonwealth, improving access to healthcare and ensuring every child in Virginia has a world class education.
Luckily, creating new opportunities and breaking down barriers is nothing new for me. I was one of the first women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute. I was the first public defender ever elected to the General Assembly and the first woman in Virginia to win her election while pregnant with twins, flipping a seat. I know that everything is considered difficult–if not impossible–until it’s done.
It can’t be easy to launch a campaign during a global pandemic. How are you handling it and how do you plan to reach voters despite this?
I never imagined that I would be running for governor and announcing during a global pandemic but COVID19 has exposed what was already beneath the surface. That the status quo just isn’t working. Too many Virginians can’t earn a decent paycheck, afford their medical bills or get ahead. I understand the challenges Virginia family’s face because I live it.
You’re a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, which penned a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam criticizing him for moving to ‘phase one’ of reopening earlier than you would have liked. You specifically cited the disparate impact you thought it would have on people of color, especially those on the front lines. So if you were in Northam’s shoes, what would you do differently?
Gov. Northam is listening to the experts and following the data and science but like most things, there are always opportunities to improve.
I would be bolder. That’s why I’ve called for investments for small businesses. I have also called for more PPE and masks for our grocery workers, home care workers and bus drivers because we need to protect the people that are jeopardizing their lives for our safety.
And calling for transparency in reporting because we need to have evidence-based decisions to figure out how we’re going to move forward communities of color who have been disparately impacted by COVID19.
I’m having these conversations. I’m pushing for forward-looking policies that are going to successfully navigate out of this crisis.
You’ve said that this pandemic has exposed a lot of issues in Virginia that you want to fix permanently and not just put a bandaid on. What issues are you talking about and how would you change those in a way that’s more long term?
COVID-19 has exposed a lot of the historic and systemic inequities in our systems.
For example, a lot of our communities of color have been adversely impacted and that has to do with the environmental impacts, such as being closer to coal ash ponds and not having access to clean air and clean water.
Redlining plays a huge part and multigenerational homes. So you have people that are more susceptible to COVID-19 living in households with many people and that has to do with economic opportunity and the lack thereof.
A lot of communities of color don’t have access to telework, paid sick days and paid family medical leave. They’re often service workers and retail workers and coming into contact with so many people, making them more susceptible to COVID-19.
So once we address food deserts and the real inequities–not only in the criminal justice system but in access to economic growth—that’s when we can really address the disparities that have been exposed by COVID-19.
I have championed criminal justice reform to make our system more fair and equitable. I have championed policies and legislation that is going to improve healthcare outcomes by expanding Medicaid to over 400 thousand Virginians because testing is free but treatment is not.
You were able to flip a seat in a formally red district which would seem to suggest that you were able to advocate to the center. What do you see as your path to victory? Who do you consider your base?
We have a pathway to success by reaching out to every Virginia voter and letting them know ‘I see you.’ I understand the challenges and obstacles you face because I face them myself. I’m not going to tackle those problems with false promises but with smart solutions.
I’m looking forward to delivering my message of unifying and sharing that we will only rise together as one Commonwealth. I will leave no community behind and I will create a Virginia where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.
Democrats got a lot done in this year’s General Assembly but you didn’t get everything done. Some members of your party passed on the assault weapons ban and paid sick leave. If you were steering the ship and had the platform to set the agenda, what’s at the top of your list?
This was a historic legislative session. We made access to the ballot easier, we protected women’s reproductive health care but I can tell you we have a lot of unfinished business.
While we were able to pass Medicaid expansion, prescriptions are still out of reach for too many Virginians for which premiums are too high. We were able to pass seven out of eight common sense gun safety bills to curb mass shootings but we have done nothing to address everyday gun violence plaguing communities like Richmond, Petersburg and Portsmouth. And we have failed to get weapons of war off of our streets.
I was happy to lead the charge in Virginia to pass the Equal Rights Amendment so women’s equality can finally be enshrined in the United States Constitution but we failed to pass paid family medical leave and sick days and a lot of legislators are regretting those votes. Now is the time for bold leadership.