VA07 Side-by-Side Candidate Survey
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Cross-Grassroots Candidate Survey - Virginia District 7
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I. Candidate profile, experience, leadership skills, and campaign strategy
1.  Prior experience with public office or role in your community prior attempts at public office; voting in past elections; elected office(s) held with years/terms served
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
Current occupation:
Small Business Owner
Current occupation:
Current occupation:
Airline pilot
I serve as the Legislative Chair for the Crusade for Voters and we sponsored a $500,000,000 referendum that we were able to get on the ballot this past November by getting 16,000 signatures on a petition to Modernize Richmond Public Schools. We were able to get the petitions signed within 2 months which set a record for the number of signatures received within a 2 month period. 85% of the Richmond Voters were in favor of the referendum and now Mayor Stoney is charged with coming up with a plan to fix the schools within 6 months without raising taxes.I have not previously run for elected office, but I have served my country as a federal agent and an intelligence officer, and I have served my community as an advocate and Girl Scout leader.

I began my career in public service as a federal law enforcement officer working narcotics and money laundering cases with the US Postal Inspection Service. Following my love of country, public service, and languages, I joined the CIA as an Operations Officer. I traveled and lived abroad collecting intelligence, managing assets, and overseeing high-profile programs in service to the United States. I left the CIA in 2014 and moved back to my hometown in Virginia to work in the private sector. At that time, I started a Girl Scout troop and began advocacy work with Moms Demand Action.

I am an active member of the Democratic party and continue to lead a troop of 4th grade Girl Scout Juniors. I also previously co-led a second troop, and managed troop leader and girl recruitment for our Service Unit.
I spent 25 years in the Marine Corps, I flew attack jets in wars in Bosnia, Kosova, and Iraq before ending up in the State Department. At the State Department I worked as a military advisor when the Russians invaded Ukraine and on the chemical weapons removal project in Syria. After the Marine Corps I became a commercial aviation pilot and lobbied Congress for aviation safety regulations for the Air Line Pilots Association.
2. Your story what inspired you to run for office, why people should vote for you over other candidates
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I have always believed that it was my duty as a US citizen to follow in the path of my family by providing community service. I enlisted in the United States Army because I wanted to protect our constitution and make the world a better place for everyone. Upon being discharged, I kept the vow to protect and serve our country and have been doing so by providing services in my community. I began being concerned about the direction that our country was going in regarding our constitutional rights and I believed that our voices were being diminished because of the influence of large corporations and some special interest groups. I wanted to help and I wanted to join the people that are on the front lines trying to save our country so I decided to run for Congress.I was always raised to believe that there is no higher vocation than service to our country, and while I had left public service to move my family to my hometown in 2014, my commitment to serving this country never waivered. From the day he was inaugurated, the President has been, intentionally or otherwise, undermining the fabric of our communities, our faith in our institutions, and our commitment to our fellow Americans. Our incumbent Congressman has been lockstep with him since 2016, and that is out of step with our moderate district. As someone who served in a non-partisan role and served under both a Republican and a Democratic President, I find the partisan rhetoric and the unwillingness of our Congressman to compromise unacceptable.

I made my final decision to run on the day of the AHCA vote. We have friends who have a child with a degenerative, fatal disorder, and I have watched them fight to preserve a level of normalcy for their little girl as her health has declined. However, on that day, these parents, knowing that their child will die in the coming years, also expressed a fear of going bankrupt while living through every parent’s worst nightmare. The fear and hopelessness they felt that day is a sentiment no person should feel because of a vote cast in Congress.

That was the day that I decided definitively to run for Congress because I know I have the commitment to reasoned leadership, the humility, the integrity, the compassion, and the fight necessary to be a part of a sea change in Washington. I truly believe that in this 2018 wave, we will elect a critical mass of new leaders who are running to serve the American people and find solutions to the difficult problems facing this country.
I spent years fighting authoritarians abroad and now that I’m home it breaks my heart to see it happening here. We spend a lot of time talking about the assaults on our civil liberties, but what defines authoritarians is their lack of caring about anyone but themselves, and in our case, the donor class that supports them. This means that the growing inequality I see in my community will only continue to increase. The job opportunities we need, the rural infrastructure like broadband or on a more basic level roads, will not be funded. Healthcare, which is a human right, will continue to ruin families who have to choose between survival and solvency. In the Marine Corps I was trained to leave no one behind and we’re leaving people behind.

I grew up in a small rural community and I believe I have the best chance to win this district because I can go talk to folks most Democrats can’t. I hear every other day, “I’m a Republican, I don’t vote for Democrats but I’ll vote for you”. A core of Trumps base are unabashedly racist and can’t be reached, but there are a lot of folks who are just desperate. No one is listening to them and they got taken in by a con man. Their problems are our problems, I believe I can speak to those folks and earn their votes.
3. What aspects of your experience will serve you best if elected? What are the most important qualities and leadership traits you bring to the campaign and the office you are seeking?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I have been a leader in my community for many years organizing and directing projects small and large that gather steam from grassroots initiatives. I am able to assemble team players to complete projects successfully. I have the ability to motivate and inspire greatness. I am the owner/operator of a small business and I was appointed to the board of the Richmond Economic Development Authority to provide vision, guidance and opportunity to individuals looking to expand their commercial interests in the Richmond area.I’m a public servant, problem solver, and listener. I developed and honed these traits at the CIA to collect intelligence on top national security priorities including Iran nuclear, African leadership, and counterproliferation. From week to week, I had to dive deeply into these issues and ask foreign spies for as much information as possible. Then I had to report my findings back to leaders in Washington so they could make informed decisions.

I believe our current Congressman lacks the intellectual curiosity and desire to serve the best interest of all his constituents. I have the tenacity, compassion, and grit to better serve my community at large and the country as a whole.
While at the State Department, and afterwards advocating for aviation safety, I got to learn a lot about how the Hill works. I sat in meetings with high-ranking members, diplomats, and cabinet secretaries and over time got to know the different committees, how they function and I think it’s given me a good sense of what role a freshman congressperson can play there.

I believe I bring experience, fortitude and the ability to stand up to this Republican party, and a willingness to listen.
4. How will you support whoever wins the Democratic primary?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I will support the primary winner by convincing my supporters to back them and I will help the nominee to win the general election by campaigning with them and helping with the get out to vote.We have prioritized building out a substantial grassroots network, which will be essential to winning this seat in November. We are working to ensure that we win the primary, but if that is not the case, I will encourage my volunteers to focus on flipping the seat and supporting the nominee.
Yes, Tom Perriello is the model for how Democrats should come together after a primary. If I do not secure the nomination I plan on supporting whoever wins by doing everything I can to make sure we beat Dave Brat.
5. What is your prior experience connecting/working with grassroots groups? How would your campaign use grassroots help – besides canvassing and phonebanking?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I have helped with other campaigns in the past and we used our grassroots efforts to register voters and to fundraise. I would also use grassroots efforts to maximize a texting initiative, register voters and to fundraise. I have been a volunteer with the Democratic party since before the 2016 election, and in the aftermath of the 2016 election, I became active with multiple, local grassroots groups, and founded a small huddle with friends. I have been a member of our local “Together We Will” groups and the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County since their inception. I worked throughout the 2017 cycle as a volunteer and developed strong relationships with other huddle groups and Indivisible Richmond.

Members of our local grassroots groups have already begun helping the campaign. In addition to canvassing and phonebanking, they have already hosted fundraising events and done postcard writing events.
I myself have never worked extensively with grassroots groups other than candidates themselves. It would be tremendously helpful to have grassroots help (other than canvassing and phonebanking) looking for innovative ways to bring new voters into the process. This could be gathering people to do facebook messages to friends and family, carpooling to different kinds of events throughout the district, etc.
II. Issues/Policy
6. Do you consider yourself a progressive? Why?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I do consider myself a progressive candidate because I come up with new ideas to address problems and I believe that change can be brought about with coalitions of people addressing issues. I consider myself a progressive because I believe that Congress should legislate with the goal of strengthening our economy, our communities, and the opportunities facing all Americans. I believe that every person, regardless of sex, race, religion, creed, orientation, or age, should be treated with dignity and respect, and should have an equal opportunity to thrive and grow in our country.
Yes, because that’s how my mother raised me. I have always grown up in places that were mostly Republican. That being said, my mother is a lifelong avid Democrat. In 2012, in the middle of Madison County, Virginia she put up the biggest Obama sign she could find to put out in front of her flower shop. In 2016 she found out Republicans were trying to blacklist her business. It didn’t slow her down any.
7. What single issue has most motivated you to run for office? What proposals do you have to address/advance it?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
The ability for individuals to receive healthcare has really motivated me to run for office the most. I believe that healthcare is a right and not a privilege and that it must be affordable and accessible. I would like to move the country into a universal healthcare system that would bring in everyone thus bring down the cost of healthcare because of the pool of healthy voters that would be included. I believe that the ACA does have some drawbacks in keeping it affordable and that the next step is to move into universal healthcare. As a CIA officer, I worked to ensure that policymakers, the military, diplomats, and the President had the information they needed to make strong and informed decisions. At the most fundamental level, I am motivated to run for Congress because we need elected leaders who are committed to legislating based on facts and evidence and focused on understanding the impact of their decisions. I once worked under challenging circumstances to facilitate informed decision-making and international engagement, and now strive to be a legislator who prioritizes thorough and balanced decision-making.

While my motivation to pursue informed policy impacts all issues, it is strongest in the area of healthcare. Watching Congress vote on the AHCA without even waiting for a CBO score was the most basic example of Congress prioritizing political expediency over informed policy initiatives.
People in the rural areas of this country are falling behind and that’s how we get Donald Trump. I was at a forum in Louisa county where they said kids doing homework for the Governer’s School, our best and brightest kids, have to work in the McDonald’s parking lot late at night to get internet. That’s unacceptable. I would want to propose broadband cooperatives, similar to what we did with electricity in the 1930s, that are federally funded and guarantee broadband to every area of the state. If elected to Congress, I would want to sit on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee to advance the idea.
8. What have you heard from voters in your congressional district that is of primary concern to them and does it vary throughout the district?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
The number one concern in our district is affordable healthcare and it encompasses the entire area. Voters across our district feel that our Congressperson is disconnected from the district and too closely aligned with the President. There is a general sense of disappointment and frustration with his unwillingness to hold or attend town halls, respond to constituent inquiries, or have a meaningful dialogue with those from a different viewpoint

Voters most often express concern over issues related to healthcare, education, the economy, and increasingly, gun violence. The concerns do not change across the district; these four remain consistent, but the conversations related to how the issue is most relevant to them does vary. For example, related to healthcare, in our southern rural counties, people are most concerned by access to coverage and hospital access, while in the suburbs and northern counties, they are most concerned about protecting the essential benefits and the rising cost of premiums.
Most people I talk to their number one issue is healthcare. We need to stabilize the ACA and support Tim Kaine’s Medicare X plan. If people get the opportunity to buy into government insurance and they experience what it can do for them, it will pave the way to single payer healthcare.
9. Please provide your top 5 policy priorities in order from highest to lowest, from the list of issues grassroots groups have identified as interests.
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
1. Healthcare
2. Economic Development
3. Education
4. Criminal Justice
5. Governance
1. Health care
2. Economic development, jobs, living wage, innovation/science and technology
3. Education
4. Gun Safety
5. Environment/International security and development/Criminal justice/ERA

(I have listed multiple topics for the fifth choice because while the top four are consistent across the district as the top concerns, the fifth issue varies greatly throughout the district.)
1. Health care: Support medicaire X
2. Worker’s rights, we need to make the minimum wage a liveable wage
3. Rural broadband: Create an innovative approach to internet access in the form of a broadband
4. Education, we need more workforce development training for skilled labor, we also need more student
loan forgiveness options that allow for loans to be forgiven in exchange for public service.
5. Governance, end partisan gerrymandering and overturn Citizens United
10. For each of the 10 topics below (a) thru (j), what is your position and what are the specific policies and legislation you will be advancing? Answer all or answer only the ones you want to highlight the most.
(a) Economy & Taxes -- Support vibrant and fair local economy and job creation; efficient and fair taxation
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I would like to grow the economy by investing in infrastructure repair to bring jobs into the district. I would also like to see real tax reform that really benefits the working class and calls on the top 1% of the population to pay their fair share in taxes. Advancements in technology have radically restructured the global economy. While these changes bring many benefits, they have also altered the employment landscape for many Americans. We must take steps to acknowledge and understand how this impacts individuals, salaries, and the economic growth across our country so that we can plan accordingly and ensure that our workforce training meets the needs of the changing economy. Our strength as a nation comes from the idea that anyone with a good idea can make it happen — the recent craft brewing renaissance we’ve experienced throughout central Virginia is just one example. This is why I support policies that empower small businesses (the backbone of our economy) to innovate and pursue bold entrepreneurial ventures.

I also recognize that, despite living in an era of historic corporate profitability, people are working harder and harder, but their incomes are not keeping up with their expenses. Congress has had more than enough time to reinforce the middle class by prioritizing the people and small businesses that keep our economy strong; I will make them a priority.

We need comprehensive tax reform, but what Congress just passed is not it. We need tax reform that makes our tax system simpler and fairer and strengthens our middle class. Congress must also work across party lines to address our nation’s debt and deficit issues. We can’t keep adding hundreds of billions of dollars to our debt each year. We must find common-sense solutions to cut wasteful spending without penalizing hard-working families, seniors, or future generations. When considering budgetary issues, I will put the needs of the middle class first and fight to end corporate giveaways that send profits and jobs overseas.
That $1.5 trillion handout to corporations and the superrich was a crime. That money should be directed to the middle class and investments directly into our communities.
(b) Civil Rights & Criminal Justice – Equal Rights Amendment; racial justice (address racial profiling, mass incarceration and police brutality); LGBTQ rights and equality
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
We need an equal rights amendment to prevent discrimination of any individual in our society. We cannot allow racial profiling or LGBTQ inequality.

We need criminal justice reform to prevent mass incarceration and police brutality which do not serve our country in terms of cost and effectiveness.
As a founding member or Women Matter, my mother has been advocating for ERA ratification for years. When I moved back to Virginia, I joined her advocacy and spoke at the Virginia General Assembly in support of passage. As a member of Congress, I will support removing the ratification deadline to allow Virginia and Illinois to ratify the original Amendment, and I will support a start over bill.

I believe in marriage equality, and I will fight to ensure that LGBTQ Americans attain full equality under the law in all states. No one should lose a job, be denied government services, be denied adoption, pay more for healthcare, or face any other discrimination based on who they love.

I believe in criminal justice reform and other reforms to end the school to prison pipeline. This involves everything from improving our early education system to decriminalizing marijuana to police hiring and training practices.
I support the ERA and hopefully Virginia will pass it in 2019.
(c) Climate Change/Clean Energy – Aggressive transition from fossil fuels to clean energy; develop green jobs; Do you oppose: hydraulic fracturing; offshore drilling; construction of new large fracked gas pipelines?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I support a movement to clean energy and to develop green jobs. I oppose hydraulic fracturing, offshore drilling and the construction of new large fracked gas pipelines. I support the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy because of the positive environmental, health, and economic impact. I proudly signed the Activate Virginia pledge and will never take one cent from Dominion or their employees. There is one party in one country that denies climate change.
(d) Education - Support public school funding; make college more affordable
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I support public school funding and making college affordable. I will propose a free college undergraduate program to prevent students from graduating with a mountain of debt. I support proper funding of public schools so that children will be in a better position to learn with adequate resources.
My husband and I both graduated from the same public school system our children now attend. I believe firmly in the value of public education, and I will advocate for and work to strengthen our public education system, through legislation and efforts to appropriate the funds promised through existing laws.
We need to expand and fund vocational schools to provide training for a skilled workforce. For those that go to college we have got to get our hands around this student loan problem. One way to do it is expanding the student loan forgiveness program for those that enter public service after graduation.
(e) Workers Rights & Family Friendly Economy – Raise the minimum wage (indicate to which level in your district); paid time off, paid sick leave; affordable day care and eldercare; right to collective bargaining/form unions
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I believe that we must raise the minimum wage in my district to $15/hr which represents a livable wage. Employees should be entitled to paid time off, paid sick leave. I believe that we should also provide affordable daycare and eldercare to our citizens. We should also have the right to collective bargaining and the option to form unions.I believe we need to raise the minimum wage, and there is research indicating that in raising it, we should tie it to a measure of economic stability to create longer-term stability for the American worker. I support paid time off, including sick and parental leave. Access to affordable daycare and eldercare is an economic and social issue and one that impacts our district significantly, with affordability being an issue in our suburban areas and access being an issue in some of our rural counties.

I also support organized labor, as unions have historically been a driver of economic stability within America’s middle class. This has been true for my own family, as my grandfather, a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, was able to raise his four children as a young widower because of the stability his union employment provided. As we see a changing landscape of employment opportunities, union apprenticeship programs remain an invaluable asset as they train the next generation of skilled workers.
It is no coincidence that wealth disparity has grown as union membership has declined. We must fight for livable wages. 6 of the 7 Republican members of the Virginia delegation are co-sponsors of National Right to Work legislation. I will fight everyday for workers’ rights.
(f) Gun Safety – Close background check loopholes; ban assault weapons; ban large round ammunition clip; ban bump-stocks
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I would propose that we close background check loopholes and ban assault weapons, large round ammunition clips and bump-stocks.Long before I decided to run for Congress, I was an advocate with Moms Demand Action working for gun violence prevention. This is a personal area of interest and advocacy for me, and as a member of Congress, I will work to prevent and fight to stop gun violence through the following legislative efforts:

a. The repeal of the Dickey Amendment
b. Background checks on all gun purchases, no matter where the guns are purchased or from whom.
c. A ban on bump stocks
d. A return to the “assault weapons ban” that was previously in place until it expired in 2004.
e. An effort to put Emergency Risk Protective Orders in place. (There is a bill before Congress to federally support this, though ERPOs have been successfully pursued and implemented at the state level.)
I am in favor of an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and I will support any and all other common-sense reform that will end the madness that allows for children to be killed senselessly. We also must let the CDC study gun violence so we can inform our solutions with fact.
(g) Health Care – Expand access to health care; support and improve ACA; move toward single payer?
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I propose that we expand access to health care by moving toward a single payer system. I believe that the ACA still impedes some people from being able to qualify for coverage and that a single payer system would bring the cost of insurance down and include more people. I will work to ensure that every person has access to quality, affordable healthcare. I am committed to weighing all options that would meet this goal. In its current form, I support Senator Kaine’s Medicaid X proposal for a public option. I also believe there are additional initiatives Congress can prioritize to strengthen our preventative health infrastructure, incentivize positive outcomes, and address price disparities and inefficiencies. We must stabilize the ACA and implement Medicare X.
(h) Immigration – Preserve DACA; no deputation of federal immigration enforcement to local police forces
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I believe that we must preserve DACA and come up with a clean Dream Act and that there be no deputation of federal immigration enforcement to local police. We need comprehensive immigration reform, including certainty for DACA recipients and DREAMers. I do not support 287g, as we’ve already seen how it is negatively impacting a portion of our district in Culpeper County.
We must defend DACA. These kids are our future. They just started using the 287(g) program right here in Culpeper.
(i) Governance Reform -- Voting rights, protect/increase voting access; fair redistricting; campaign finance reform; overturn Citizens United
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
We must protect voting rights and increase voting access. We must have fair redistricting that doesn’t allow for partisan redraws. We must have campaign fiancé reform and overturn Citizens United.
I support expanding voter rights protections. I support campaign finance reform, greater transparency in campaign financing, and an amendment to overturn Citizens United. I support non-partisan, fair redistricting. Our campaign is not accepting any corporate PAC contributions.
We must overturn Citizens United. I am in favor of an Amendment outlawing it. We must also end partisan gerrymandering.
(j) Womens Reproductive Rights -- Support access to safe and legal abortion
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I support safe and legal abortions because I believe that based on history, women would perform their own abortions whether they are legal or not. Illegal abortions are often unsafe resulting in death.
I am pro-choice and will oppose any legislation that negatively impacts a woman’s right to choose. No one should ever get between a woman and her doctor.
Other information you would like to share
Helen AlliAbigail SpanbergerDan Ward
I would be honored to represent your organizations. I am excited running as the only progressive candidate in my district and I am happy that there are organizations forming to support these platforms. There are many Bernie Sanders and Tom Perriello voters that would still like to vote on a progressive platform and I am happy to be the person to offer them hope in these issues.

Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my views and work together in 2018. Together, I am confident we will enact a wave of positive change across the country, and restore the ideals and values of acceptance, inclusion, and safety it was built upon.
March 2018
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