Kara's Plans for a Stronger Virginia
Our most immediate challenge is to rebuild a stronger Commonwealth once the pandemic recedes. As
Delegate, Kara will focus on ensuring that every person living in the 31st district will be set up for the same chance of success in life. This includes having clean air and drinking water, access to nutritious foods, the opportunity to send your children to preschool without having to feel like you're paying for a second mortgage, ensuring a roof over your family's head in a safe neighborhood with high-quality schools, being able to care for yourself and your loved ones without fear of going bankrupt over an illness or injury, and the right to a fair wage that can allow you to live beyond just paycheck to paycheck.
Kara will make sure no one is ever left behind and will fight for a government that is fair and equitable.
Read more of Kara's plans below:
Affordable housing in the Commonwealth should be guaranteed. Kara has experience in creating affordable housing and assuring that all members of the Commonwealth can have a place to live.
Prior to her work in the federal procurement space, Kara worked with a non-profit organization that builds and manages affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families. Kara has both experienced and witnessed the effects that having a safe place to live and the opportunity to receive a quality education can have on the trajectory of one's life and continues to fight for affordable housing programs in Prince William County.
She knows that there is nowhere in the 31st District where working full-time on minimum wage can afford you a decent 2-bedroom apartment. The poverty level for a family of four is currently $26,200 and if you spent your entire take-home pay just on rent or a mortgage your family would still be in trouble. Add on essentials like food, heat, and transportation and you are well in the red before you have even had a chance to buy your kids' school supplies or new clothes to replace the ones they have rapidly outgrown.
Partner with state and local government with non-profits and private entities to ensure affordable housing for everyone.
Vouchers, subsidized housing options, and grant assistance should be available to anyone who needs it.
The Commonwealth as a whole should be looking to other states that have found success in establishing innovative ways to provide affordable housing to their residents to replicate these successes.
The Commonwealth needs a top-to-bottom overhaul to create a justice system that is fair and equitable for all. The time is now, we have to do more.
As Delegate I will take clear, direct actions to create a justice system in the Commonwealth focused on equity and rehabilitation.
Repeal the police bill of rights and create a civilian police accountability board in every county.
Route 911 calls related to mental health and substance use, to trained, non-police responders.
In Eugene, Oregon they send a medic and a crisis worker to take calls relating to mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. In 2019, responders requested police backup only 150 times out of approximately 24,000 calls. We can do that here in Virginia.
We must put an end to qualified immunity and hold our law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct and for violating people’s constitutional rights.
Ensure diversity in our police forces and in our courts so that people of all different backgrounds and nationalities are represented patrolling the streets and sitting on the bench.
Implement policies that allow for automatic restoration of voting rights upon completion of a prison sentence.
Prohibit private prisons from doing business in the Commonwealth.
Transition away from the racist and classist prison system we have currently and transition to a rehabilitative model that empowers individuals to put themselves in a position to find gainful employment once a sentence is completed
These are steps that I will take as delegate and ensure that our justice system is an equitable system.
Paid Sick & Family Leave
The pandemic has exposed how much we need Paid Sick and Family Leave in the Commonwealth. Kara will fight to assure this for all Virginians.
Paid Family Leave affects everyone equally regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, or age. Adjusting to life with a new child, whether by birth or adoption, takes time and energy that most residents of the Commonwealth are not afforded because of restrictive work situations. Virginians are forced to take leave without pay to care for new additions to their families and that simply does not set our families up for future success. New families need to be supported during one of the most challenging times in their lives. Likewise, families that take on additional support roles for their elders or ailing dependents should not be penalized for doing so. If you live or work in the Commonwealth, you should be secure in knowing that dealing with a medical event or other crisis for yourself or a family member will not affect your job security or cost you the ability to cover your own needs or those of your family. We need more respect in the workplace for those among us that sacrifice.
Rural families have been left behind when it comes to high-speed internet access. In the 21st Century, all families should have broadband access, particularly as schools and workplaces are instituting work or learn-from-home initiatives. High-speed internet access should be classified as a public utility, not a luxury service, just as other essentials like water and telephone service.
Kara knows that climate change is an existential threat to the Commonwealth. She will fight for environmental justice, as well as fighting for workers as we transition to a clean air economy.
Since 1970, temperatures in Virginia have increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. By the end of the century, many scientists say rising sea levels due to climate change could contribute to the loss of Virginia's barrier islands. Kara knows we need to take bold steps to address this problem head-on, and wants to leave the planet better than we found it. Kara pledges not to take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, and PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.
She will also take clear, bold steps to address the climate crisis:
Transition to a 100% clean energy economy 2035. Throughout this transition, workers who currently work in the fossil fuel industry and have a specific set of skills — ie. building the infrastructure that supports and distributes our energy — should be trained in building new clean energy infrastructures and technologies and be given the right of first refusal to the high-paying jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Fight to protect our public lands and expand the lands we are protecting, so that we protect biodiversity.
Advocate for clean transportation. Currently, 45% of Virginia's emissions come from cars and transportation. By fighting for more public transportation we can drastically cut our emissions.
The residents of the 31st District are too far removed from proper mass transit. As a result, we are taxing our cars, burning fuel, and wasting our time on congested roadways daily.
Work with Federal and Local governments to cost-effectively expand Metro and VRE to accommodate the exploding populations in our suburban and more rural areas for individuals working in DC and at the Pentagon.
Expand VRE and Omniride service to weekends and during the day.
Bring the blue line metro down to eastern Prince William to give people more commuting options.
Expand 95 and clear the bottlenecks beyond the current Occoquan/Lake Ridge expansion.
In particular, for the rural areas, we must ensure that well-traveled roads are properly paved and maintain appropriate signage.
But along with that, transportation is the largest source of Virginia's climate pollution, at a full 45% of emissions. We must allocate more funding to electrify and expand passenger rail and public buses, and to promote bike and pedestrian programs. Kara will prioritize electric vehicle adoption through financial incentives and investment in charging infrastructure.
We must ensure that our schools are well and equitably funded so that children across the Commonwealth, regardless of their zip code, can receive the same first-class education as the rest of their peers.
Review our school curricula and ensure that they reflect reality and today’s rapidly changing times. For example, Our history curriculum, in particular, can no longer accommodate a whitewashed version of history; in an age-appropriate fashion, the difficult truths of this nation’s history must be addressed, ensuring that our children are receiving a well-rounded, historically accurate education
Ensure educators and support staff are adequately compensated for the difficult work they do daily
Offer universal preschool across the commonwealth to ensure that every child is set up for the same success in life
Every person in the Commonwealth deserves Healthcare. We must fight to expand access to Healthcare and Mental Health Care as well.
Over 648,000 Virginians do not have health insurance. That is far too many Virginians who are left behind when it comes to healthcare. Kara knows how vital it is that we address this problem and expand health care access in the Commonwealth. She will fight to expand access to Medicare and Medicaid and assure that no one in the Commonwealth is without healthcare. Including fighting to close the Part D Medicare gap.
Along with that, the Commonwealth has left too many behind when it comes to Mental Health Care. Mental health care is a burden that simply shouldn’t be carried alone. We must be able to provide better resources to those in need of mental health services and additional training for first responders and government employees to be able to identify people in crisis and to offer support.
This pandemic has only highlighted gaps in a system that existed long before 2020 and in a post covid world we will all need to lift each other up to get back to a place of prosperity...or even normalcy.
As Delegate, Kara will make sure that our schools are funded so that we can ensure technological accessibility and resource equity in education. It is past time to get everyone across the Commonwealth access to the internet. We need everyone on equal footing whether students are learning remotely or in the classroom, and broadband is the key to putting everyone on an even playing field.
We must continue and expand grants and loan programs to support small businesses in their fight to get back on their feet and bring back their full workforce so that our local economy can begin to be fully functional again.
And we need to keep this conversation open with you about a path forward, and especially those in our most marginalized communities so we can get feedback from the people these policies most directly affect. So that they have a say in what happens next for them and their families.
"We need to take clear, bold steps towards gun control in the commonwealth. I for one am too tired of worrying about the next school shooting, and whether my children are safe at school. This means taking decisive actions and bold steps to fight gun violence." - Kara Pitek
Kara has clear steps she wants to take towards fighting for a gun-safe future: Get rid of the gun show loophole, make sure that domestic abusers never have access to a gun, enact a three day waiting period to purchase a firearm, and, absent any action on the federal level, we must work with the other 49 states in the union to implement a universal background check system.
But the problem doesn’t stop there. Even if we enacted these policies, our country would still have the weakest gun laws among developed nations and would still have the most firearms in the hands of people out of any country in the world — and research is clear that places with more guns have more gun deaths. So what do we do? I propose gun licensing in the Commonwealth. It works. Implementation in states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Missouri has led to fewer gun deaths. Be it from homicide or suicide.
We need to pass bold reforms. A majority of Democratic voters have gun control as one of their top issues and licensing works.
"As a woman who would be the first openly bisexual Delegate from the 31st District and in the Virginia legislature, I can tell you firsthand of the heartbreak many people in the LGBTQ community have endured when trying to live as their true selves in the open. Friends, family, and coworkers can be unsupportive at best, and outright hostile far too often." - Kara Pitek
One of the non-profit organizations that Kara sits on the board for, Casa BruMar Foundation, exists precisely to offer support and resources to LGBTQ youth who cannot express themselves at home or who have shown their family their true selves and have been kicked out of their homes as a result. There is a reason why LGBTQ youth are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth and why LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness.
As Delegate, Kara will ensure that the gaps that are currently being filled by organizations like Cas BruMar, are addressed on a statewide level, this includes:
Mental health, social, and homeless services that focus on the unique issues of our community, connection to physicians who treat the LGBTQ community without judgment, and guidance and acceptance in our public schools.
Our LGBTQ students need us to prioritize equity and ensure our schools are places where all students are protected and empowered. No one should be bullied or discriminated against because of who they are or who they love and we need to ensure that our public institutions are enforcing these values.
Campaign Finance Reform
Kara knows we need vast campaign finance reform in the Commonwealth to make running for office more accessible for all Virginians. For example, there is no single-donor limit in the Commonwealth so a donor could give 1 million dollars to a campaign and it would be legal. So to run for office one must have a wealthy network. But we must implement single-donor limits so that wealthy individuals and big-money corporations do not have more of a say in our political process than normal Virginians do.
Advocate for public financing of elections so that you don’t need a wealthy network to have a chance at an opportunity to represent your community in our legislature.
Modernize the candidate application process so that we are not required to submit the same or similar forms three separate times to three separate locations. If we can file our campaign finance reports online and receive petition signatures online, we should be able to file our candidate paperwork online as well. I realize that can come off as a list of petty complaints but when you read them together they read as a lengthy barrier that prevents quality candidates from being able to run. And if we are meant to be the party of inclusion, we need to make the process easier, not harder.
Make legislative jobs full-time so that tour representatives truly have the time to devote to legislating and to constituent services.
We can change our entire system of governance and make these legislative jobs full-time so that our representatives truly have the time to devote to legislating and to constituent services.