82nd District House of Delegates candidate profile: Victor McKenzie

Published 11:55 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Democratic primary is set for June 20 to decide the party’s nominee for the new 82nd House of Delegates District, which includes all of Surry County, all of Petersburg, and parts of Prince George and Dinwiddie counties. Kimberly Pope Adams of Dinwiddie is vying for the nomination against Victor McKenzie of Petersburg. The Smithfield Times asked each candidate 10 questions.

Name: Victor McKenzie

Age: 30

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Occupation: Executive director of Substance Abuse & Addiction Recovery Alliance of Virginia

Past offices held: none

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for the 82nd District?

I decided to run for the 82nd District for a simple reason: I want to serve the people of the 82nd District. Among my priorities is ensuring we have the best public schools with up-to-date buildings, modern technology, and the best teachers for all our students.

We need reasonable gun safety such as universal background checks and holding parents accountable if their child gets ahold of an unsecured gun.

Everyone needs to have access to reasonable affordable healthcare, including mental healthcare and prescription drugs.

2. Who is your political role model? Why?

My political role model, while not a politician, is my grandmother. My grandmother is my hero for countless reasons, but she taught me that most areas of life are in fact political. What we have access to, how we go through the world, and which opportunities we have is political.

Growing up, I saw my grandmother possess all of the qualities that good change-makers have, and I have tried to embody that, not just in my campaign, but in my everyday life. She persevered through adversity, always stood up for what was right, was selfless to a fault, and was always of service to others. Her word was everything, and you never had to doubt that. She inspired me to dedicate my career to helping others who might just need an extra hand or someone to amplify their needs.

3. What change, if any, to state law would you like to see in the wake of last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade?

We need to codify the right to reproductive freedom, including abortion and contraceptives, in the Virginia Constitution. Medical decisions should be made by a patient and their doctor, not politicians.

4. Should school personnel be required to use transgender students’ preferred names, pronouns and/or not reveal their gender identity to their parents? Why or why not?

Children who are struggling with gender identity are much more likely to be suicidal, bullied, and struggling in school. If using the child’s preferred name or pronoun helps that child succeed and feel more comfortable so they can learn to the best of their ability, that should be our goal.

The vast majority of children struggling with gender identity issues talk to their parents and ask for help because, as parents, it’s our goal to make sure our children are happy and successful. If a child has not told their parents, there is probably a good reason such as fear of unacceptance or retaliation. Schools and trained guidance staff should work with children and strongly encourage them to talk to their parents or a trusted adult, but telling their parents when the child expressly does not want that could be dangerous for the child’s mental and/or physical health.

5. Do you agree with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order banning “divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory” from public schools? Why or why not?

Critical race theory is a graduate level course that is not taught in Virginia public schools, nor should it be. However, children deserve to learn, in an age-appropriate way, the whole history– the true history.

Our children are the leaders of tomorrow, so we want them to have every tool possible to be prepared and succeed. Learning about slavery, the internment of the Japanese, or the slaughter of Indigenous people helps students recognize when we’re on the wrong path so we can make our way back to the right one.

We also should teach our school children some of the positive changes people have brought to this country such as abolitionists or suffragists. I don’t want my daughter learning a watered down version of history, and I don’t want your kids to learn that either. We have to make sure they get the best, and the truth is the best.

6. What more can Virginia do to prevent mass shootings?

We need universal background checks, stronger red flag laws, holding parents accountable when their child gets ahold of an unsecured weapon. We also need to invest in mental health so all who want treatment can get it in an accessible, affordable way.

7. Should the state get involved in stemming or encouraging the proliferation of solar farms in rural counties?

This decision is best left to the locality. This is a big state and what works and helps one locality is not necessarily appropriate for another. If a locality chooses solar farms, the state can then be helpful by recognizing that solar energy helps combat climate change and providing incentives.

8. Should Surry County have the option of raising its local sales tax by 1% by voter referendum to fund school construction projects? Why or why not?

Yes. All children deserve to attend modern, up to date schools and if the community sees a need for school construction, the community should decide whether they want to use a small tax increase to fund that. Good public schools help make up the foundation of our communities.

9. What is one issue where you disagree with your political party’s national stance?

We need to focus more on rural communities and support their specific needs. Rural communities have too often been left behind by national Democrats. Rural Americans deserve attention on their needs, and we have to look at the underlying reasons why these needs aren’t being met. Everyone wants to ensure that they have access to affordable, nutritious food. Everyone wants to ensure that their livelihood is sustainable, whether that be agriculture or otherwise. Everyone wants to have access to affordable, high-speed broadband to access essential information, do their jobs to the best of their abilities, or stay in touch with loved ones. We must make sure we’re recognizing that the causes of such problems may be different in rural communities, and that we are working on solutions that fit the needs of rural communities. Let’s eliminate food deserts, ensure high speed affordable internet for all, and support our agricultural base.

10. How should retail marijuana sales be implemented, or should the 2021 legalization be overturned?

I support marijuana legalization. Marijuana convictions have unjustly devastated the lives of so many people, especially Black and Brown people or young folks. However, before we can legalize marijuana, we need to make some important decisions. What will be the age for buying? What will be the laws around marijuana and driving? How are we going to tax marijuana to pay for the infrastructure needed to have it be marketable? We also may want to use those taxes for other important state needs such as funding public schools.