Shelly has been spending a lot of time knocking on doors in her district talking to her constituents. She feels this is a time-honored tradition that allows her to get a good read of public sentiment, and what matters most to voters. She wrote of the experience in a recent op-ed last election cycle, “If you ask me for a word to describe the mood as we approach the November 2 election though, I would have to say that word is unfortunately, cynicism. To me, this lack of trust is the biggest challenge we face as we pursue good government and laws that are responsive to our citizens in the Commonwealth.”
Shelly thinks much of this cynicism comes from people being tired of the corrosive influence of money in politics and the unchecked influence of big public utility companies directing policy in the General Assembly. Before being elected to the Virginia House, Shelly often went to her legislators to advocate for clean energy policies and conservation of our natural resources, only to watch legislation get crushed under the influence of these companies time and time again.
This is why now, as a member of the House of Delegates, Shelly refuses to accept contributions from companies like Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power. Their ability to buy influence in Richmond is why she supports banning contributions from these public service corporations that are regulated by the General Assembly. Doing so will go a long way in building trust, leveling the playing field and facilitating real progress on environmental issues in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As a dedicated member of the Privileges and Elections Committee, Shelly is proud to highlight recent strides in Virginia to expand voting access. In 2020, history was made by introducing early voting and pioneering No Excuse Absentee balloting in Virginia for the first time. These groundbreaking initiatives have particularly benefited our seniors and home-bound citizens, making it easier for them to participate in the democratic process. With these improvements, Virginia has transformed from being one of the worst states for voting rights to one of the best in the nation.
Finally, another way we can improve civic participation is by allowing localities to establish voluntary public financing systems for local elections. This would limit the influence of big money and make small donors the most powerful force in campaigns to ensure community leaders with grassroots support can run for office without having to rely on wealthy donors and corporate special interests. By allowing more people to contribute and shape election outcomes, we will get better representatives for the communities who have been left out and left behind.
Shelly believes that our democracy functions best when every Virginian’s voice is heard. This is why we must limit the power of big corporations and take steps to improve participation in our democracy.
Shelly will continue to make sure that bills that come out of the committee are crafted to help more people legally vote, not to restrict the vote or limit hours or access to the polls. You can see and comment on the bills that were debated on this year at this link.