Days before election, Elaine Luria urges students to vote

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Congressional candidate Elaine Luria met with students in Washington Hall. JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

Thursday, Nov. 1, congressional candidate Elaine Luria sat down with the members of VOX: Planned Parenthood Generation Action, the Rainbow Coalition and William and Mary Young Democrats in the College of William and Mary’s Washington Hall to speak about her campaign, answer questions and emphasize the ongoing importance of voting. The event was arranged through the combined efforts of the three organizations.

Luria, a Democrat, is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District against incumbent Republican Scott Taylor. She talked with students about their critical role in inciting change amidst a frustrating political landscape.

At the beginning of the discussion, VOX Co-president Jioni Tuck ’19 conveyed her appreciation of Luria’s dedication and concern for women’s rights and reproductive justice. Luria has been endorsed by abortion rights organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Luria spoke on a wide range of topics regarding the progress, or lack thereof, of civil rights and the deleterious effects of offshore drilling. She underlined the critical nature of universal background checks in the fight to end gun violence and the alarming increase in hate crimes across the nation. Luria also discussed healthcare, a cornerstone of her platform. She highlighted the necessity of Medicaid expansion and her desire to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act in Virginia.

When asked about LGBTQ rights, Luria acknowledged how much more work still needs to be accomplished.

“I think that regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, I look at a world in the future where we move past asking these questions and having to have this discussion,” Luria said.

Luria was also asked about the lack of female representation in Congress, which is currently only 19.4 percent. Luria spoke to the importance of a Congress that is more diverse on the whole.

“If Congress looks more like the communities we live in, more like this room, our representation will be better,” Luria said.

“If Congress looks more like the communities we live in, more like this room, our representation will be better,” Luria said.

The theme of Luria’s overall message to the audience surrounded her potential ability to overcome political polarization while in office. She emphasized her background of over 20 years in the Navy and the non-partisan nature of her job there. She appreciated that, above everything, while she was serving her country, the goal was to come together, complete a mission and get things done. Luria said that she believes this view is the most productive to help accomplish change in the government.

After she finished answering questions, Luria took the time to meet many of the students from the crowd of roughly 100. One of the attendees reflected on why she believed the event was so widely important.

“Well, I’m a freshman at William and Mary. I was very politically engaged back home, so it has been an interesting adjustment coming to a new place where I don’t know the politicians as well,” Barrett Fife ’22 said. “I think this was a great opportunity no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on to learn a lot more about the Williamsburg politics while also staying engaged with the national story of the midterms.”

Meanwhile, Young Democrats President Cody Mills ’20 expressed his gratitude toward Elaine Luria for speaking to students. He emphasized how valuable her potential candidacy would be for the diverse populations of individuals in the College’s community. Mills also said that he found the issue of health care access to be essential for LGBTQ individuals and reproductive justice.

“I think Elaine is a really special candidate just because of how informed she is on all of these different local issues, but she’s all really good at connecting them to a more national scope of why they are important,” Mills said.

Throughout “A Conversation with Elaine Luria,” Get Out the Vote was continually in the spotlight. Luria pointed out the necessity of voter outreach in the final days of the election. Young Democrats opened sign-ups for GOTV shifts at the check-in for the event and emphasized their importance for canvassing and phone banking.

“Turnout, especially in this election, matters,” Mills said. “If not enough people come, Elaine could lose by 10 votes, and all the polls are showing how close it is, so everything is pointing to how important your vote is.”

While individuals may be frustrated with the current state of politics, Luria emphasized the overall importance of voting.

“Having that frustration is one thing, but acting on it and voting is another,” Luria said. “If we want to change the conversation in Congress, we need to change the people in Congress.”