Commentary/Opinion
On occasion, Charlottesville Tomorrow will publish opinion pieces by members of our local community. At this time, we can acknowledge receipt and inform you whether a period for accepting them for publication is open.  We cannot guarantee that a submission will run. Letters must include the writer's full name. Anonymous opinions and those signed with pseudonyms will not be considered. Commentary on an article should be submitted within one week of a story's publication. For verification, opinions and commentary also must include the writer's contact information. Writers should disclose personal or financial interest in topics addressed. Pieces are edited for clarity and fact checked. Writers and/or organizations may only submit one piece over a 30-day period. We do not endorse political candidates, but candidates and supporters are welcome to make one submission before a primary election/convention and again before the general election. Candidates and anyone wishing to write about a candidate must submit their pieces no later than 45 days before Election Day. Political pieces will not be run within 30 days of the general election election. For more information, or to submit a letter to the editor, contact News Editor Elliott Robinson at erobinson@cvilletomorrow.org.

I grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, one of the poorest communities in our commonwealth. Petersburg is a strong community thanks to the people I grew up with: our faith leaders; my teacher, Sgt. Maj. Frost; and my grandmother, Mary Lee. People in our community fought to keep Petersburg alive when politicians of the past turned their backs on us. It’s a town that had been left behind. Too many families struggled to get by – including my own. Luckily, I was raised by my grandmother, Mary Lee Carroll, a powerhouse and leader in our neighborhood, who taught me what I hold true: that even if you don’t have much, “If you have it, you have to give it.”

That’s why I chose to put service first. I decided to attend the Virginia Military Institute and became one of the first women to ever graduate from the school. I fought for those who could not fight for themselves as a foster mom, public defender and an effective member of the House of Delegates, where I passed bills and budgets to uplift working people. I worked to expand Medicaid to 500,000 Virginians, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, secure a raise for our teachers, take on Dominion Energy and clean up toxic coal ash ponds across Virginia and more. I fought for real criminal justice reform, including the fight against police violence, banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

And I’ll continue that fight as governor to ensure all in Charlottesville and across the commonwealth have the opportunity to get good wages, fair benefits and a first-class education.

I’m running to create a Virginia that leaves no one behind — regardless of age, gender, orientation, race or ZIP code. This goal is not just possible — it’s more important now than ever. COVID-19 exposed what is already just beneath the surface — something I have known since I was a little girl in Petersburg: too many Virginians can’t earn a decent paycheck, afford their medical bills or get ahead. Last year, after the death of George Floyd, America woke up to a fight for racial justice and against hate, an issue that deeply affected Charlottesville just three years earlier. I have and will continue to tirelessly fight for a more just and inclusive commonwealth as governor.

I’ll never forget after my grandmother had a stroke that left her quadriplegic, having to sit at the kitchen table with my aunt facing the impossible choice of paying for the medication keeping her alive or for the mortgage on the house keeping a roof over our head. I know what it’s like to balance a checkbook on a minimum wage job and to fear for my and my family’s life given the presence of gun violence in our neighborhood. Today, I’m a working mom of two 3-year-old boys while juggling student loans and multiple jobs.

I’ve lived the challenges that too many families in Charlottesville continue to face thanks to a broken status quo that has too many Virginians behind. We need a leader who understands Virginia’s challenges and is ready to solve our problems, not apply Band-Aids that get us from one crisis to the next. We need a governor who will stand for affordable housing and ensure all Virginians won’t go unhoused, especially in Charlottesville, where the housing need gap is inexcusable. But we can’t change the status quo by recycling the same policies and politicians of the past. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but we can’t take our foot off the gas pedal now.

Join our grassroots, people-powered movement that has been endorsed by so many groups that represent the people – environmental organizations, women’s rights leaders, more unions than any other candidate, and local leaders in Charlottesville, such as Councilor Michael Payne, by visiting my website, jennifercarrollfoy.com. And don’t forget – early voting has already started, so please find your nearest voting location by visiting iwillvote.com and cast your vote by June 8. I’d be honored to have your support.