13th State Senate District Democratic primary candidate profile: Lashrecse Aird

Published 12:56 pm Friday, May 26, 2023

A Democratic primary is set for June 20 to decide the party’s nominee for the new 13th State Senate District, which includes Surry, Sussex, Prince George  and Charles City counties, Petersburg and Hopewell, and parts of Henrico and Dinwiddie counties. State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Petersburg, is vying for the nomination against former Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg.

On April 18, The Smithfield Times emailed 10 questions to each candidate, initially giving a deadline of April 25. Morrissey did not respond by the original April 25 deadline. The Times was able to reach a representative from Morrissey’s campaign by phone on April 28, who confirmed the campaign had received the Times’ April 18 questionnaire, and the Times then provided a new deadline of May 6. The Times sent a reminder email on May 4, which a campaign staffer acknowledged, but the Times still did not receive questionnaire responses by 5 p.m. on May 5.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 6 to note Morrissey’s campaign provided responses on May 30.

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Name: Lashrecse Aird

Age: 36

Occupation: Higher Education Administrator

Prior elected offices held: Virginia House of Delegates (63rd District)

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for the 13th District?

A mother of school-age boys, a wife and working families’ champion, my desire to run in SD-13 is as it was when I was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates—and that is to use my lived experience to advocate for real problems being felt by every voter in this district. The daughter of young working-class parents, I grew up experiencing first hand every harsh reality of income inequality. My unique perspective and family history have driven my legislative advocacy, earning me a reputation as pro-business and a courageous champion for social, racial, economic and environmental justice issues. During these turbulent political times, I commit to being accessible, responsive and to prioritize the issues I have achieved results on in the past, like  improving our schools, making our communities safer, increasing access to high-paying jobs and ensuring affordable access to healthcare. And doing so with honesty and integrity

2. Who is your political role model? Why?

To understand my advocacy and my ability to fully understand the experiences of vulnerable families is to know my journey and that of my mother. She is my role model and my inspiration. My parents, and in particular my mother have shown me what it looks and feels like to achieve your goals in the face of adversity, while also lifting others as you climb. I watched the sacrifices she made for our family and how hard she had to work. This may not sound political but it is, because it’s all any voter is looking for in their elected leaders. Individuals with real lived experience that understands everyday problems and can offer current and real solutions.

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?

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Virginia needs to put women’s reproductive freedom into our Virginia Constitution to ensure women have permanent and safe access to reproductive healthcare like an abortion and to contraception. 

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?

School personnel should allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity and respect the choice or the student by adhering to it. Furthermore, students who are comfortable with their parents will tell their parents about their gender identity. School has always been about offering a healthy and safe learning environment in support of our students. It’s critical that this support system remains intact for all children which further ensures a conducive learning environment.

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 and concept. Gov. Youngkin’s executive order is a mere political statement at best—because critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia schools and it has never been proposed for Virginia schools. 

We need to teach all  of our shared history, good and bad, so our students can have broad perspectives, and learn from it to become leaders in the next generation. It should not be “divisive” to teach any history, especially that is based in fact if we adopt age-appropropriate content. If we do not learn from our history we are doomed to repeat it.  

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

In order to prevent mass shootings in Virginia we must take a multi-pronged approach. Data shows that most people who commit a mass shooting are in crisis and are struggling with various mental well-being challenges. We must commit to acknowledging those in a state of mental crisis and immediately allow for providing the care and resources they need. We still have a lot of work to do in Virginia to improve our strained mental health system. In addition, guns continue to play a major role in this crisis. Military style guns are most frequently used in mass shootings and in Virginia we allow for access to assault-style weapons and use of high capacity magazines. This must change if we are serious about prevention.

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

The state has already debated solar farms and allows for their existence. Both increases or capping of largely utility-scale solar is a decision that does and should remain with the local community. With some concerned about property rights and others concerned with the aesthetics of the presence of a solar farm there must be balance so the intended purpose of these farms is achieved. And that purpose is part of a larger need to provide an alternative clean energy source which oftentimes lessens the energy burden being felt by individuals, while also addressing the effects of climate change. Changes in climate are already impacting agriculture, one of the most critical drivers of our economy. Solar farms which produce renewable energy are one part of key solutions.

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?

Surry should have the option of raising its local sales tax to fund school construction projects. Many public-school buildings are so ill-equipped or in such poor condition that they undermine teaching and learning. This is especially true in rural and small school divisions. Decades of data continue to show the direct correlation of learning facilities with student’s health, safety and learning outcomes. With no major federal and state funding mechanism to fully address school modernization, we must do everything we can to provide the community with a vote to decide whether they want up-to-date school infrastructure for our students and educators.

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

One issue that I believe my national political party does not go far enough on is the critical need to strengthen regulations on the expanded use of artificial intelligence. At a rapid pace we are witnessing the incorporation of this evolving technology into everyday systems and structures of our lives, affecting jobs and automated decision making. We are currently behind in the world in properly protecting consumers from risks associated with its use and many are unaware. With existing bais already known to exist in this technology, the longer we wait to properly assess the balance in its use, the more difficult it will be to adjust its presence in our financial sector, its role in healthcare decisions, education and especially in policing. 

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

It is clear that adult consumers want access to cannabis, so legalization of marijuana should not be overturned, but instead the development of a socially-responsible legal marketplace needs to move forward as the originally intended next step. The legalization of marijuana without a deliberately structured, retail market has left Virginia’s system confusing, contradictory and has led adult consumers to turn to the less safe, unregulated black market. It has also left individuals disproportionately targeted by the justice system relative to marijuana drug laws in limbo. 

As policy is further considered for the retail marketplace, it’s critical that we build a system that is competitive, allows for equitable licenses and does not solely favor larger corporate operators (especially from out of state).