Mike Mullin discusses plans for Virginia General Assembly

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Mullin has been a delegate in the Virginia General Assembly for approximately three and a half years. COURTESY IMAGE / WM.EDU

Wednesday, Oct. 2, Democratic State Delegate Mike Mullin visited the College of William and Mary to discuss not only his plans in Virginia’s General Assembly but also to reach out and answer questions from students at the College. This town hall forum was sponsored by the William and Mary Young Democrats to grant insight into Mullin’s political ideals and priorities, while also providing a venue for community members to spark conversation on a variety of issues.

Mullin has been a delegate in the Virginia General Assembly for approximately three and a half years. In addition to acting as a legislator, Mullin is a criminal prosecutor, making him the only prosecutor currently serving in the Virginia General Assembly.

“My particular focus is on violent crimes, gang cases and sexual assault — juvenile sexual assault in particular,” Mullin said. “I devoted my career to protecting our community and protecting the most vulnerable.”

After introducing himself and explaining his work as a delegate, Mullin clarified his motivation behind attending the event.

“This is not like a campaign event in some way,” Mullin said. “I really just want to be able to answer your questions and tell you a little bit about myself. “

“This is not like a campaign event in some way,” Mullin said. “I really just want to be able to answer your questions and tell you a little bit about myself. “

Since he is up for reelection this November, Mullin faced a plethora of questions revolving around legislation he has sponsored in Richmond as well as his plans for the upcoming statewide elections.

While questions ranged from criminal justice reform to partisanship, the evening had a heavy focus on gun control, with many students expressing curiosity as to how Mullin planned to reform gun laws in the wake of the recent acts of gun violence around the country. In particular, the May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach appeared to be on students’ minds, and some asked Mullin how gun laws could shift in the wake of these incidents.

“I understand that there are times when you need to carry a firearm for personal protection or for hunting or for target shooting or just because you like the hobby,” Mullin said. “I get that. But what we have right now is a culture of death that is around weapons that don’t need to be in civilian hands certainly to the degree they are right now. This is a recent phenomenon. … We don’t have to live like this.”

Even if his party does not take the majority in the November elections, Mullin is confident that gun reform and bipartisanship is a possibility and can be accomplished. He explained that unlike in Washington, D.C, Virginia’s General Assembly is not hyper-partisan and that collaboration between parties is more feasible. Mullin expressed that hyper-partisanship only seems to arise around the time of the elections.

“I imagine that common sense gun reform is going to find a number of Republican supporters once we actually get passed this election cycle because everything becomes more hyper-partisan as you get closer to November fifth,” Mullin said. “We found that with Medicaid expansion.”

Other issues that were discussed included the issue of cash bail, the legalization of marijuana and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposed family bill of rights.

Concerning the issue of cash bail, Mullin emphasized that only seven states have eliminated cash bail at one point or another, and each time that is done, it had led to more people being held in jail. He also said that he felt the current cash bail system was not working because impoverished people are the ones being held just because they cannot pay. However, he also indicated that while the total elimination of cash bail would be an effective strategy, there must be an expansion of universal standards set for pretrial services.

Selene Swanson ’22 said the discussion of cash bail was something she had heard much about before.

“I’m really interested in criminal justice, so I thought it was really great that some people got to ask questions about it tonight and hear his reasoning about cash bail because that wasn’t a perspective I had heard before,” Swanson said.

“I’m really interested in criminal justice, so I thought it was really great that some people got to ask questions about it tonight and hear his reasoning about cash bail because that wasn’t a perspective I had heard before,” Swanson said.

Regarding the legalization of marijuana, Mullin emphasized that although he wanted to see a path towards legalization and decriminalization, he also wanted to make sure it was done properly and safely. 

“You have to do it right,” Mullin said. “There are some states that have done it really well like Oregon and California. And there are some states that have really screwed it up like Colorado. Colorado had a significant increase in DUIs as well as traffic related fatalities because they didn’t have the education campaign behind it when they did it.”

For students and other attendees, getting insight into the local delegate’s perspectives was useful and informative. 

“I often feel like I don’t know which questions I want to ask because I have so many,” Suzanne Cole ’22 said. “So it’s really nice to hear what other college students are thinking about and to hear the candidate’s answers.”