Southside teacher looks to unseat Sen. Mark Warner
Alissa Baldwin was always drawn to the U.S. Constitution. Originally, she pursued a career as a paralegal before serendipitously landing in public education as an eighth grade civics teacher in Lunenburg County. Along with teaching how the government works to her students, she has past experience as a legislative intern in the General Assembly and involvement in various campaigns. Eventually, her students asked, “Why don’t you run for something?”
For Baldwin, the time is now.
“I ran out of excuses,” Baldwin said. “I am someone who wants ‘We the people’ to have our voice heard at the local, state and federal level.”
Frustrated with what she calls “career politicians,” Baldwin is excited to be a fresh face and first-time official, if elected.
Her passion for politics and involvement in the Republican Party has given her a taste of the frontlines. Having been involved assisting elected officials and other candidates in her teen years and younger adulthood, campaigning is not new to Baldwin but being the actual candidate is.
“I’ve ventured out of my comfort zone,” Baldwin said. “It’s been a different experience to be the candidate.”
As a fiscal conservative, she said, her campaign has been a chance to practice what she preaches.
“I’ve learned you can do a lot with a little in terms of fundraising,” she explained. “I’ve been a grassroots candidate. Every donation that comes my way, we’ve been able to maximize how we spend that and live up to what I claim to be as a fiscal conservative.”
Meanwhile, Baldwin said her experience as a teacher will be helpful should she become a senator.
“I’ve got that set of soft skills — listening, conflict resolution,” Baldwin said.
Rather than launching her bid for Warner’s seat by giving speeches, Baldwin fielded the input of her constituents.
“I started with a listening tour, not a campaign talking tour,” she said. “Those are important lessons as we move forward with who we vote for and support.”
“I’ve got that set of soft skills — listening, conflict resolution."
Fiscal conservatism is something Baldwin wants to champion as a federal legislator.
“I think the federal government needs to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” she said. “If we have big spending programs, we are actually not doing what is right for the taxpayer and putting too much of a burden on them. We’ve got to scale it back so you know what you’re paying for and have transparency of cost.”
A core of conservative politics is the limiting of government on individuals. With Baldwin a conservative seeking a federal seat, she wants to minimize federal reach into what she said state and local governments should be able to handle themselves. As an educator, Baldwin would like to see downsizing of the federal Department of Education.
“The Department of Education ends up making a lot of regulations and proposals that make teaching and learning harder for students,” Baldwin said. “I’d like to trim the fat on some of those programs.”
In addition to the oversight of schools residing mostly at the state level, Baldwin supports universal vouchers to allow parents to choose where to send their children, higher pay for teachers, and federal funding to under-served schools.
As a Constitutional purist, she said she stands firm in support of the Second Amendment.
“I always have the belief that ‘shall not infringe’ is pretty straightforward,” Baldwin said. “You as law-abiding citizens have the right to have or not have a gun.”
On renewable energy, Baldwin supports greening the power grid and would contribute to efforts that incentivize or help states and companies embrace the shift.
“We can stimulate those efforts with grants and incentivize companies to go that way and lessen the burden for some that are less environmentally friendly,” Baldwin said.
On healthcare, Baldwin said she is frustrated with the partisan divide of the topic and said it’s “an American issue.” She supports coverage for preexisting conditions, lower prescription drug costs and expanded mental health coverage.
“People need support for their minds, not just their bodies,” Baldwin said.
On the support of the Affordable Care Act, or the push to repeal and replace, Baldwin said there are some “happy mediums” that can be found, and that she is still learning more about what those could be.
“I don’t pretend to be an expert and that’s what makes me different,” Baldwin said. “I think we can work together to be more proactive with mental health.”
Baldwin often “turns her free time into volunteer time,” having been involved in community gatherings and events with her church. As the daughter of parents who worked long shifts in rescue squads, she has followed suit by occasionally volunteering time as an EMT with her local fire and rescue department.
Baldwin was a republican candidate for U.S. Senate. She lost in the primary.