Criminal justice reform
For too long, Virginia’s treated white people by one set of standards and people of color by another. We’ve made a lot of progress to close the gap, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Equal protection under the law is a right that should be shared by all. We must change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color and practices that lead to systematic inequality–especially at the intersection of race and income. Ralph will do this by reforming drug laws that do long-term damage to communities of color. He will do away with the practice of suspending a driver’s license simply because a person can’t afford to pay court costs. By taking away an individual’s transportation, you take away their ability to pay the fine and entrap them in a never-ending cycle of fines and fees. Ralph will also continue to fight for the restoration of rights, because, in a democracy, we should be encouraging more people to vote, not less.
Addiction and substance abuse
In the 1980s, Virginia and our country were facing a public health crisis—the crack epidemic. Unfortunately, instead of caring for those suffering from addiction, our nation placed blame on its victims. We can’t repeat that mistake. Currently, three Virginians are dying each day from accidental overdose, and in 2016, more than 800 Virginians died from overdose. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Virginia increased access to naloxone, the drug needed to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Ralph believes we must continue to expand access to new substance abuse treatment options and drug courts. Ralph will use his medical expertise to lead on addiction and substance abuse.
Fighting gerrymandering and protecting voting rights
Gerrymandering can disproportionately affect communities of color. That’s one reason Ralph has been a strong proponent of nonpartisan redistricting reform ever since he entered the Senate, co-sponsoring legislation with the late Senator John Miller to curtail unfair redistricting. As governor, Ralph will be a bulwark against further attempts to make voting more difficult and will fight to ensure redistricting is done fairly. Because in a democracy, we should be encouraging more people to vote, not less.
Ralph knows a house isn’t just a place to sleep—it’s the place you create a life. For too many Virginians, creating that kind of home is out of reach. On average, minimum wage workers in our commonwealth would need to work 124 hours a week to afford a two bedroom fair market value apartment. From introducing legislation to study ways to develop affordable housing to expanding access to housing choice voucher programs, increasing housing affordability is an issue Ralph’s been fighting for for years. Ralph is also concerned with discriminatory housing practices. He supported legislation to expand Virginia’s Fair Housing law to include prohibitions on discrimination against the LGBT community and voted to expand access to educational materials about Virginia fair housing law.
Air pollution threatens public health across the Commonwealth and is exacerbating respiratory illnesses and chronic lung conditions, like childhood asthma, and allergies. As a member of the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission, Ralph developed recommendations for how Virginia can reduce its carbon footprint, which will help relieve the 700,000 Virginians suffering from asthma and other chronic lung diseases. The highest concentration of those suffering are in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads—also the areas in Virginia with the highest concentration of minority communities. People in those communities are also often those living without adequate health care, creating a vicious cycle of illness and costly medical treatments. As governor, Ralph will continue his work fighting air pollution and its health effects.
One in 9 Virginians was born outside the United States. We’re a community of immigrants, and Ralph believes our strength lies in its diversity. As such, he opposes legislation that would bar individuals from entering the state based on race, religion, or country of origin—legislation like President Trump’s Muslim ban. Ralph supports the work of the Virginia Office of Newcomer Services, which helps immigrant and refugee communities gain economic self-sufficiency and social integration.
Donald Trump has made his first priority as president to roll back women’s access to reproductive healthcare and to take us back to the days before Roe v. Wade. Ralph is committed to fighting for Virginia women, especially their right to quality, affordable healthcare. As a physician, Ralph believes women’s healthcare choices are personal and best left between a woman and her doctor—not politicians in Richmond or Washington, DC. Ralph will fight for women so they can decide when to start a family, and he is an advocate for expanding access to long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs, as well as protecting a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. As a state senator, Ralph led the fight against the invasive transvaginal ultrasound mandate and opposed legislation that would limit access to women’s health clinics. Ralph is proud to have a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood.
Protect LGBT equality
Hate isn’t a Virginia value. Ralph will be a brick wall against the discrimination of the Trump Administration. Ralph knows every person deserves to be treated equally—no matter who they are or who they love. Unfortunately, Republicans too often disagree. Ralph has a long history of standing up for LGBT Virginians, from opposing bathroom bills that discriminate against transgender people, to fighting to protect LGBT people from workplace and adoption discrimination. Not only is protecting LGBT equality the right thing to do, building an inclusive, fair Virginia is good for business.