In this week’s newsletter, I share reflections from Vice President Harris’ trip to Richmond; commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; address recent comments from Martin Brown, Virginia’s Chief Diversity Office; share information about early voting and Teacher Appreciation Week; and reflect on community engagements from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
Vice President Harris Visits Richmond
As a part of National Small Business Week, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Richmond yesterday to speak on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments in America’s small businesses. Vice President Harris spoke at Richmond-based Babylon Micro-Farms, located in Senate District 10, in Scott’s Addition. Their business is focused on increasing accessibility to fresh produce and combating resource-intensive agriculture. Like many small businesses throughout the Commonwealth, Babylon directly benefited from investments distributed with the American Rescue Plan Act. During 2021 and 2022, Americans filed nearly 10.5 million applications to start new businesses, the two highest years on record for new business formation. Small businesses represent so much of what makes our communities great: innovation, investments in the local economies, and job opportunities for millions of Americans.
We were delighted to welcome Vice President Harris to the district and to Richmond. A large crowd greeted her, and we also heard messages of support for our small businesses from Mayor Levar Stoney, Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, and Babylon CEO Alexander Olesen.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate and honor the contributions, histories, and traditions of our diverse AAPI communities throughout the United States. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the United States and represent nearly 7% of the Commonwealth’s population. In March of 2021, Delegates Mark Keam, Kathy Tran, Suhas Subramanyam, Kelly Fowler, and I – as the AAPI members of the Senate and House of Delegates – formed the Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus (VAAPIC) to advocate for policy changes, as well as use our public positions to highlight issues of importance to Virginia’s AAPI communities. Although Delegate Keam has now joined the Biden Administration, we were delighted to welcome Delegate Irene Shin to our caucus following her election in 2021.
Throughout AAPI Heritage Month, I will be joining my colleagues at AAPI-centered cultural events and highlighting the work of AAPI Virginians throughout the Commonwealth. To stay up-to-date on the Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Last week, Governor Youngkin's Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Martin Brown, declared “DEI is dead” at a gathering at the Virginia Military Institute. This statement is a part of a long, disturbing pattern from the Youngkin administration and its war on DEI initiatives, and echoes narratives we have seen across the country from extreme right-wing politicians.
In a joint statement, the Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, the Virginia Latino Caucus, and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus called for Brown’s immediate resignation, emphasizing how his comments actively go against his sworn duties. Our Commonwealth and country are strengthened by diversity; inclusive values bring about mutual respect and understanding; and the opposite of equity is inequity. I join my colleagues in demanding that Martin Brown resign and that the governor appoint an administrator who actually wishes to do the work of the office to which he has been appointed.
Early Voting Begins Today
Election season here, and early voting for the June 20 primary elections begins today, May 5. Early Voting in the current 10th Senatorial District will only be available at your Registrar's Office for the June Primary Election. No other polling locations will be open for early voting.
Chesterfield County voters are able to vote early in-person from 8:30am until 5:00pm daily at the Chesterfield County Registrar’s Office (9848 Lori Road) beginning today through Friday, June 16 (Monday – Friday). Saturday voting will be available on June 10 and June 17.
Richmond City voters are able to vote early in-person from 9:00am until 4:00pm Monday through Friday, beginning today through Friday, June 16. Saturday voting will be available on June 10 and June 17 from 9:00am until 5:00pm at the Richmond City Registrar’s Office (2134 West Laburnum Avenue).
Powhatan County does not have any primary races, resulting in no election to vote on June 20.
Teacher Appreciation Week
May 8 through 12 is Teacher Appreciation Week. I thank all our educators for surpassing their job descriptions to give students the best possible education. Teachers deserve higher compensation, safe and modern schools, respect and appreciation. I will continue to advocate and support educators in and out of the classroom. I commend all our exceptional teachers in Powhatan County, Chesterfield County, Richmond City and across our Commonwealth for their critical work of educating our next generation of leaders.
Highlights from Community Events & Meetings
Connecting With My Office