Virginia House of Delegates District 73
2017 Race Update: Debra won 51.48% to 48.35%
When Dr. Debra Rodman talks about the American Dream, it’s clear it’s not an abstract concept for her. For the past ten years, she’s served as an expert witness for federal immigration courts for refugees – particularly women, children, and LGBT individuals – seeking political asylum in the United States.
“I believe in the American Dream because I’ve spent the past 20 years studying it as an immigration scholar and helping people find the American Dream as an advocate for refugees, serving as an expert witness in federal court. Being granted asylum here is a life changing moment that opens up so many opportunities,” said Debra, the Democrat running for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 73rd District. “But right now, too many Virginians feel like the American Dream is out of reach. I want to go to Richmond to change that.”
Debra moved to the Richmond area 13 years ago for a job at Randolph-Macon College and is now an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women’s Studies. Speaking with EveryDistrict about her campaign, Debra described how her previous experiences influenced her decision to pursue public service.
“In many ways, politics is a natural evolution of the past work I’ve done,” said Debra. “As an anthropologist, I’ve been trained to understand different perspectives, and I’ve studied how policy actually affects people’s lives. I’ll bring these skills to Richmond to find common ground on policies that put the people of Virginia first.”
First and foremost, Debra is committed to securing more funding for Virginia’s schools. Henrico County is known for its high-quality schools, but cuts to the Commonwealth’s education budget in recent years threaten to undermine past successes and not all students in the county have access to the same level of resources. Debra will strengthen education funding to ensure all children have the opportunity to get a world-class education.
On health care, Debra supports Medicaid expansion and protecting women’s access to good reproductive health services. As someone with a Master’s Degree in environmental policy, she is also committed to protecting the environment and pursuing policies that will mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.
Debra understands that too many families in the Commonwealth struggle to make ends meet, and she’s committed to making real progress to spur economic growth and create more good-paying jobs for Virginians by funding job training programs, raising the minimum wage, and investing in small businesses.
Debra has already established a strong campaign operation; in April she defeated three other challengers to secure the Democratic nomination. Before the nomination contest, Debra and her team of volunteers knocked on hundreds of doors and made thousands of phone calls.
“This is going to be a grassroots campaign,” said Debra. “Democrats have only fielded one other candidate in the past 17 years for this seat. We deserve real representation in Richmond, and I’m going to continue reaching out to the people of this district to talk about why I’m running and hear their concerns.”