Democratic Delegates Take the Oath: Striving for a More Perfect Union

“We walked in solidarity, we marched, we ran and we WON.” As the anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March was commemorated throughout the world and women continued to march in solidarity, the words of Delegate Hala Ayala following her public swearing-in ceremony on January 20 in Richmond, VA, had a special ring.
The momentum of the 2017 March launched the campaigns of thousands of women across the country and in Prince William County, the swearing-in of Dels. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, Hala Ayala, D-51st, Jennifer Foy, D-2nd and Danica Roem, D-13th marked a historic day. Del. Guzman, with great exuberance after taking the oath, commented, “Thank you for helping me become the first Hispanic immigrant elected to the House of Delegates.”
And there are other firsts in this House of Delegates Session in Virginia. Guzman and Ayala are the first Hispanic women to serve, Foy is the first African-American woman to represent Prince William County and Stafford, and Danica Roem is the first transgender in Virginia to serve in the House of Delegates. Guzman commented, “You can look at the delegates here and you can see that we truly represent the diversity of Prince William County.”
These newly elected Delegates have a mission, as well articulated by Delegate Foy, “We are here to expand Medicaid for 400,000 Virginians who don’t have access to quality health care. We are here to improve the teacher shortage, to improve education for every child, improve transportation, to have pay equity, protect women’s rights, to have paid maternity leave, because no one should have to decide if they are going to go unemployed or spend time with their families.”
Their ambitious agenda will be carried forward with the help of other Delegates who swept into office in the wave of Democratic candidates who ran for office in 2017, including Del. Kathy Tran, Del. Lee J. Carter and Del. Chris Hurst and many others who captured 49 of the 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.
It will be an uphill battle in a Republican controlled House, but Del. Guzman expressed her determination stating, “I have an ambitious agenda with 23 bills that connect us with social justice and I will continue to fight even if my bills get rejected, I will be back next year fighting to get them passed through… Let’s show the majority that we will continue to fight and no one will silence us, even if they have a majority in every sub-committee.”
Assuring her supporters on the issue of immigration, she added, “No mas, no van a irrespetar a los immigrantes.” (No more, they will not disrespect immigrants).
Looking ahead to 2018, Del. Foy looked back to those who made their victory possible. She commented, “We are here because of the work of Gloria Steinem, because of Shirley Chisholm, because of the work they have done they have paved the way. If we are going to effectuate real change, we have to get in the game, we can’t sit in the back seat, we have to lead from the front.”
Del. Alaya urged her supporters to get involved, “If you are thinking of running for office, do it. We have a seat on the table instead of being on the menu. We had hope, and we had inspiration and the motivation to take it to the finish line. Hopefully this year we will make some amazing things happen.”

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