It’s time for Democratic voters in Fairfax County to decide who will carry the party’s standard at the polls in November for US representative in the 11th Congressional district.
To help voters decide, The Blue View asked both candidates – incumbent Gerry Connolly and challenger Zainab Mohsini – to answer the same four questions on critical topics facing our nation and region. Their answers are below.
The Democratic primary will be held on Tue., June 23. For those planning to vote by mail, the deadline to apply to receive an absentee ballot by mail, fax and online is Tue, June 16, at 5:00 p.m. Click here to apply for an absentee ballot.
In-person absentee voting is available now at Fairfax County Government Center. More information here.
To confirm registration status and find your polling place, click here.
1. What should Congress do to counter racism in policing?
America is in the midst of a much-needed national reckoning. Time and time again we see Black people killed by police, and the officers involved facing no consequences, often returning to work.
To fix this we need to end qualified immunity for police officers, stop the sale of military equipment to police departments, incentivize local police forces to use community policing and improve training for non-violent interventions, and place a federal ban on the use of chokeholds. I’ve sponsored legislation that would do all of these things.
Systemic racism is ingrained in the fabric of our policing system. There are steps that we can take to reform the existing police. However, our larger focus needs to be on defunding the police and investing in social services, affordable housing, rehabilitation programs, and restorative justice. We must resolve the root issues of social, economic and political disenfranchisement in lower income communities and communities of color, particularly Black communities.
In terms of reforms, we must:
- Train officers on implicit bias, fire racist officers, and prioritize community policing and de-escalation techniques;
- Require unbiased third parties to investigate officer-involved brutality;
- Demilitarize the police force;
- Get rid of qualified immunity to make it easier to sue officers who commit acts of brutality
2. What form of increased access to healthcare do you favor?
A single-payer, government-run healthcare system is the best way to ensure that every person receives quality medical coverage. I support a Medicare for All plan that:
- Enshrines healthcare as a human right;
- Mandates that health institutions improve transparency and medical training programs to combat racial disparities in the healthcare system;
- Insures all people regardless of immigration status;
- Covers dental, vision, special needs, mental health, abortion, contraception, and hormonal/surgical transition services; and
- Creates programs to support those who currently work in the private insurance industry so that they can transition to the public sector or other related professions
The proudest vote of my career was for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. It nearly cost me my seat in Congress, but thanks to the ACA, 20 million Americans now have access to health insurance.
Until Donald Trump came to office, the ACA was working: costs of healthcare were going down, and access to insurance was greatly expanded.
We need to beat the Republicans in November to finally end their war on Obamacare. Then we need to get more states to expand Medicaid. Finally, we need a public option for health insurance to compete on the marketplace against private insurers and bring down costs even more (which I voted for in 2010, but sadly was cut out of the final bill).
3. What is the most important way Congress can help fight climate change?
I’ve been an environmental champion my entire career, from green building initiatives as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to founding an environmental caucus in Congress.
The two most concrete things Congress can do to fight climate change are re-join and ratify the Paris Climate Accords and pass the Green New Deal. I voted for the Stimulus Bill in 2009, which was the largest green energy investment in our nation’s history. I was the first Virginian to sign on to the Green New Deal, and the United States desperately needs to implement it, before it’s too late.
I fully support the Green New Deal Resolution and all Green New Deal Bills, which assure that as we are using the values of environmental justice to create a more just and sustainable society. I support:
- Ending federal subsidization of the fossil fuel industry;
- Investing in sustainable infrastructure to support our most marginalized communities such as communities of color, low-income neighborhoods, and rural areas;
- Banning fracking;
- Creating a massive green jobs program to transition works to the sustainable economy; and
- Getting corporate money out of politics so that industries that polluters cannot buy political influence to stop necessary pro-environmental policies.
What are two high priority northern Virginia issues you want to target as CD-11 representative?
Our district is over 30% first-generation immigrants. The Trump administration has explicitly attacked immigrant communities which has exposed even further the structural inequities that our communities face. To protect immigrant rights, we must:
- Abolish ICE;
- Place a moratorium on deportations;
- Massively increase our number of asylum courts to address the backlog of cases;
- Create an immediate pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people;
- Increase the number of immigrants who can enter the country through green card sponsorship;
- End the Muslim Ban;
- Increase the refugee cap; and
- Make the process of applying for naturalization and fee waivers for USCIS forms easier.
Education is a human right. However, the cost of Pre-K and college is often too much for working class families in our district. As we’ve seen, students of color and students who aren’t neurotypical face harsher punishments in public school. We need to make our education opportunities accessible for everyone, especially since school is so tied to social mobility. To increase educational equity, we must:
- Institute universal Pre-K;
- Guarantee tuition free public colleges and universities;
- End suspensions and restraint programs;
- End racial disparities in school punishment;
- Forgive student loan debt;
- Use federal funds to equitably fund low-income school districts.
Sadly, the highest priority for the 11th District for the next two years will be dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, both continued economic fallout, and a probably resurgence of new cases in the fall. I’ve co-sponsored the Paycheck Guarantee Act which would guarantee salaries for COVID-19 job losses for up to 3 months. I also voted for the HEROES Act which will provide nearly $1 trillion in state and local aid to prevent them from having to slash jobs due to revenue shortfalls, exacerbating the recession.
Finally, I have long supported comprehensive immigration reform and gun control, which can finally become law if we win the Senate in the fall.
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