Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy has been working for change since childhood. Now in her run to become Virginia’s next Governor, she’s fighting for affordable healthcare, living wages, social equity, environmental issues, and more.
Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy knew she wanted to play a part in social change since high school. Now this candidate for Virginia Governor and chief sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment is ramping up her campaign, despite the challenges this year has brought. Even in the middle of a pandemic, election season doesn’t wait for anything; and although the coronavirus has put a damper on just about everything in life, the run for electing the next Governor is on.
As delegate for the state’s second district, which includes Prince William and Stafford County, Carroll Foy says she’s running for governor because Virginians can’t wait for change any longer — and describes what it’s like running her campaign during a global pandemic.
“I keep hearing the same type of stories,” Carroll Foy explains. “A woman has to travel fourteen miles to take her daughter to the local McDonald’s so she can do her homework. They don’t have access to the internet. [Then] I went to Portsmouth, and I shook the hands of men and women who work 40 hours a week and bring home $14,000 a year. So while some people are doing well in Virginia, not everyone is having the same opportunity to reach the middle class and thrive.”
Carroll Foy started her years in public service when she joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in high school. After the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to allow women to attend Virginia Military Institute (VMI), she knew she had to attend. Carroll Foy became one of the first women of color to graduate from the state military school. She then pursued a Master’s degree, and later earned a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL). She’s been serving her community ever since.
“I have seen the historic inequalities — in our educational system, our healthcare system, our environment, our economy — up close and personal,” Carroll Foy said. “I’ve experienced many of them myself. So as a working mom of two two-year-olds, working two jobs while paying a second mortgage every month [in childcare costs], and struggling with student loan debt, I can identify and understand the everyday challenges that Virginia families face. I live with them, too.”
Since 2017, Carroll Foy has committed her time to service in the Virginia House of Delegates. Along with sponsoring the Equal Rights Amendment, she has fought to expand Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians while helping with the unemployment process. She’s worked to ensure small businesses are tended to, and that kids still have access to school lunches during COVID-19. But unlike other seasons, this election season has proved to be a challenge, and no candidate is untouched by the coronavirus crisis.
“My challenges I’ve faced thus far, and in this election, have been the same challenges that my companions are facing. In 2020 and 2021, it’s a fact that we’re running during a pandemic, something that none of us have seen in our lifetimes,” she said. “Then we have the civil unrest and racial reckoning happening right now, and [I’m] trying to lead in that area; pass policies that address police reform and criminal justice reform, while also dismantling a lot of systems that need to be up-ended and rooted in equity. One of the things that VMI taught me was to never get distracted about what’s going on. I’ve been able to do that, because I am not running against anyone in this race for Governor — I’m running for the people of Virginia.”
In her time as a public defender for the state of Virginia, Carroll Foy has fought for and accomplished many acts of service. She recalls one of her proudest achievements during her time as a delegate, and describes the hard fight it took to accomplish.
“One of my proudest moments [was] passing the Equal Rights Amendment. I remember fishing the idea to other legislators, that we need to make women’s equality the number one issue in Virginia, and I was told no,” Carroll Foy said. “That was a dead issue that no one was talking about. Luckily, there are advocates like Eileen Davis, who helped galvanize the VA Ratify ERA, [an organization] which houses advocates throughout the Commonwealth and the country to energize voters on this issue, such as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. That became one of the top issues on voters’ minds going into the voting booth in 2019.”
After bringing to light issues of equality for women, Carroll Foy wants to bring internet access to rural Southwest Virginia and help families get out of the lower class. She’s completely focused on her goal, and says she has always been ready to fight for Virginians and their families.
“I am honored to be in a position to change the face of leadership in Virginia,” Carroll Foy said. “I am also focused on ensuring I bring diverse, high paying jobs to every corner of the Commonwealth.”
She plans to fully fund the education system to prepare Virginia’s children with a world-class education. She also plans to expand infrastructure — such as broadband internet access — to every corner of the state to “finally end the digital divide.”
“As Governor, I will be able to help lead those changes,” Carroll Foy said, “and set the direction for who we are as Virginians and what we stand for.”
Top Photo via Jennifer Carroll Foy