VIRGINIA — Former Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy is one of five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia in 2021.
Carroll Foy, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from January 2018 to December 2020, would be the first woman to serve as governor of Virginia. She is running against state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, Del. Lee Carter and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe for the Democratic nomination.
Early voting in the Democratic primary is currently underway and continues until June 5 for the June 8 Democratic primary that will include candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Raised by her grandmother in Petersburg, Carroll Foy was one of the first women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute. After graduation from VMI, she went on to receive a master’s degree from Virginia State University and a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Carroll Foy then became a public defender “to help give a voice to the voiceless — children, people suffering from addiction, those experiencing houselessness, those with mental illness, and the poor,” according to her campaign website.
In 2017, Carroll Foy won election to represent Virginia’s 2nd district in the House of Delegates. The district, which covers parts of eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County, was previously represented by a Republican.
Learn more about Jennifer Carroll Foy and why she is running for governor of Virginia in 2021:
Age (as of Election Day)
I am a proud mother to twin three-year-olds, Xander and Alex, and wife to my wonderful husband Jeff, who I met in my first week at Virginia Military Institute.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
No. I’m the first in my family to do this. My family hasn’t been in politics — they’re everyday Virginians, some working minimum wage jobs to get by. I ran for office to stand up for them and people like them.
I’m a proud graduate of Petersburg High School and was one of the first women to ever graduate from the Virginia Military Institute. I have also received my master’s degree from Virginia State University and my J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
I have served as a magistrate judge, public defender, and I do court appointed work as an attorney.
Previous or current elected or appointed office
Member, House of Delegates (HD-2)
Why are you seeking elective office?
I grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, a town with one of the highest poverty rates in the Commonwealth. I’ll never forget, after my grandmother had a stroke and became a quadriplegic, sitting at the kitchen table with my aunt and facing the impossible choice of whether we were going to pay for our mortgage or the medication keeping my grandmother alive.
That’s where my journey to running for Governor began. I’ve lived the struggles that so many Virginia families face, whether it’s trying to get by while working the minimum wage or going without healthcare. I’ve spent my entire career being a voice for the voiceless — as a foster mom, public defender, and member of the House of Delegates. We have made so much progress in Virginia but we are not done yet. I’m running to be Governor to shake up the broken status quo that has left too many Virginians behind and build a Virginia that truly works for all.
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
“The status quo.”
Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country, but not everyone gets the opportunity to thrive. In too many of our communities, people aren’t given the opportunity to succeed, whether it’s discrepancies in education, good paying jobs, healthcare and more. And the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the systemic inequities so many Virginians face. We can change that this election. I’m running to make sure Virginians are heard and that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. A Carroll Foy administration will invest in our communities, lift up small businesses, fix our schools, ensure that people have access to quality affordable healthcare, and more. As Governor, I’m committed to ensuring that no one gets left behind — regardless of age, gender, orientation, race, or zip code, in Virginia.
How would you assess Virginia’s handling of the coronavirus, and why?
This crisis has made the past year long and difficult for so many families. Virginia has done a good job, but there’s always room to do more. Minority populations have been vaccinated at much lower rates, for example, and our next governor will have to keep up the fight against COVID-19.
As Governor, I’ll make it my number one priority to get shots in arms and people in jobs as quickly as possible so that we can get Virginians the care they need and the good jobs they deserve. From re-opening our schools safely to distributing the vaccine in every corner of the Commonwealth, my administration will be absolutely focused on ending this pandemic.
What laws or policies will you pursue to help the state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our communities and our economy, and revealed what was just beneath the surface – too many Virginians can’t earn a decent paycheck, afford their medical bills, or get ahead. We can’t address this crisis with band-aids either. We need to look at the more systemic problems that exacerbated these difficult times — the problems that communities like mine have faced for decades. My top priority is creating a robust post-COVID economy, so that Virginia can be both the pro-business and pro-worker model for the nation.
From protecting and promoting our small businesses, to creating diverse high-paying jobs in every corner of our Commonwealth, making the needed investments in our infrastructure, and more, I’ll fight to build a Virginia where everyone has access to a good-paying job with fair benefits. You can read more about my economic plan at https://jennifercarrollfoy.com/issues/jobs-economy/.
How would you assess the General Assembly’s work in the latest session, which saw passage of a host of bills on racial equity and criminal justice reform?
As the first public defender elected to the legislature, I’m proud to have championed many of the efforts to ensure racial equity and reform our broken criminal justice system, from the legalization of marijuana to my bill to ban chokeholds. While politicians of the past like Terry McAuliffe refused to repeal the death penalty, which disproportionately hurt Black, brown, and other marginalized communities, and gave passes to bad police, I’ll fight as Governor to move Virginia forward and build on my work in the General Assembly, from addressing mass incarceration to making real investments in small, minority- and women-owned businesses. I’ll prioritize ending the underlying inequities in our economy, health care system, schools, and more that contribute to the two-tier criminal justice system that exists in the Commonwealth, and building a Virginia that truly works.
What is your position on the effort to repeal the state’s right-to-work statute, and what changes, if any, would you make in the law?
I unequivocally stand with working people and support the repeal of right-to-work. I know what it’s like to be paid an unlivable wage, and to go without benefits and support in the workplace. I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with working people — from protesting on the picket line, to passing the most pro-worker agenda in history in the legislature, fighting to ensure that workers rights were not only protected, but expanded. Unions protect workers, are key in the fight to raise the wage, and ensure good benefits. Now is the time to invest in our workers and workforce, and we need unions to get that done. As Governor, I’m committed to the continued fight for workers’ rights, so that Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth have the just and equitable workplace they deserve.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
My campaign for Governor isn’t about me, it’s about us. It’s about uplifting everyone and ensuring that no one gets left behind. I will never back down from doing what’s right for the people of Virginia. As Governor, I’ll be laser focused on tackling the pandemic and addressing the impact it will likely have on our Commonwealth for years to come. I’ll bring diverse, high-paying jobs to every corner of the Commonwealth as we build a post-COVID economy. I’ll bring down the cost of healthcare and ensure every student has access to the first-class education they deserve. I will work everyday to ensure that we build a Virginia where no one is left behind and one where we all have an opportunity to thrive.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
The status quo doesn’t work anymore, and Virginians need a leader with a fresh vision and policies made by working people. Virginians need a leader who understands their struggles and hardships, who can start a new chapter for Virginia, instead of going backwards. Virginia has a choice this year, between the politicians of the past, who cozy up to special interests and leave so many of us behind, and a future where we can uplift all Virginians. While others were getting rich as corporate lawyers or backroom politicians, I worked hard as a public defender, magistrate judge, and Delegate to bring a voice to those who don’t normally have a seat at the table. I ran for the House of Delegates, while pregnant with twins, because I knew change couldn’t wait. And it can’t wait any longer, and that’s why I’m running for Governor. I’ve always stood with the people of Virginia, and I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight to move Virginia forward as the Commonwealth’s next Governor.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
My whole life, I’ve been told “no.” No, I couldn’t go to VMI. No, I shouldn’t run for office – and double no when people found out I was pregnant with twins. And no, it wasn’t the right time to run for Governor.
But one thing people should know about me is that I eat “no” for breakfast. I became one of the first women to graduate from VMI, and beat the establishment favorite who outraised me 4 to 1 on my way to flipping a historically Republican seat from red to blue while battling morning sickness and swollen ankles.
I went on to deliver on my promises – from raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, expanding Medicaid to 500,000 Virginians, and championing the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. I’ve proved the critics wrong every step of the way, and I’m ready to do it again because ‘no’ is not serving us.
I’ve proven that I’ll never back down from fighting for the people of Virginia. I’ll work with anyone — R, D, or I — to get things done and build a better Commonwealth. And I’ll fight to do just that as our next Governor.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
I would not be where I am today without my grandmother, Mary Lee, who raised me. She was a Southern Christian woman who had me in church multiple days a week, and who I saw every day contributing to our community – from working at Central State Mental Health Hospital, to opening our home to church members struggling to get back on their feet.
It was my grandmother who taught me the values that I hold true — “If you have it, you have to give it” — even if you don’t have much. What she meant was — if you have a warm home, you open your door. If you have strength and compassion, you lend it. If you have been blessed, then be a blessing to others.
That’s been my guiding principle since I was a little girl, and it’s what has driven me to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves my whole life — as a foster parent, a public defender, a Delegate, and now as a candidate for Governor. She was and still is my rock, and I carry her memory and her teachings with me every day.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
We have to be the change we seek. And we don’t get change by recycling the same policies and politicians of the past. This is our time to take on the status quo and fight for a better, brighter future in our Commonwealth. Early voting has already started, and I would be honored to have your support.