BA: Wittenberg University, MA: University of Pennsylvania
The top priority for our district should be education. Despite having the nation’s 12th best economy, we rank 42nd nationally in per-pupil funding. As a state senator, I would prioritize increasing our education spending to ensure that our schools are fully funded. Moreover, our teacher salaries are still at pre-recession levels while we are simultaneously asking our teachers to contribute more to their benefits. Thus, we must increase teacher pay in order to attract and retain high-quality educators. We also need to continue to work to reduce the student to counselor ratio. Finally, it is impossible, in the 27th, to talk about education without talking about rural broadband. We need to expand access so that our students can do their homework from home.
Voting is perhaps our most sacred right. I will fight against voter roll purges and other actions intended to lower voter turnout. In addition, I will support proposals to increase accessibility, such as making Election Day a holiday, giving workers paid leave on Election Day, increasing the accessibility to register to vote, increasing early vote availability, and implementing no-excuse absentee voting.
I support non-partisan redistricting so that we may move toward a more representative electoral system in Virginia. Politicians should not be able to pick their constituents. Thus, I was disappointed to see that that the commission will not be completely non-partisan. I was also disappointed to see that the amendment does not include anti-gerrymandering language. However, we must move ahead with the amendment we have and then see that it is implemented.
The job of a State Senator is to advocate for the best interests of their district, even if it means breaking with party affiliation (or perhaps especially so). Moreover, Senators must ensure that their constituents are represented fairly. This means fighting to expand voting rights in order to give everyone access to the representation that they deserve. Finally, perhaps the most important part of the job is constituent services. Senators must be readily available to the people they serve.
In many ways, my background has prepared me for this job. I grew up in Appalachia, and, as such, have a deep understanding of how to bridge the divide in our current toxic political climate. Moreover, I am a teacher and, as such, have dedicated myself to service. Part of my job is to navigate disparate and difficult relationships in service of a larger, common goal. Finally, I hope to bring working-class representation to the General Assembly. It is difficult for everyday folks to run for office. Part of my campaign is proving that this can be done--and, in doing it--proving that it leads to excellent representation.
At https://www.ronnieross.com/issues-1 voters can find my statements regarding the environment, education, healthcare, the economy, voting rights/good governance, criminal justice reform, Veterans’ affairs, gun safety, equality, and our first responders. (Active link can be found under Position Paper #1.)
The issues I most want to address while in office are the underfunding of our public schools, expanding access to affordable healthcare, increasing broadband access for rural Virginians, and protecting the environment.
There is not just one, but top priorities are affordable healthcare, better managing taxes and revenue, improving infrastructure, expanding addiction services and improving public safety to name a few. In the past, I have collaborated with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address issues related to healthcare, infrastructure, public education, workforce development, ethics reform, redistricting reform, public safety, needs of the disability community, energy and opioids among others. My priorities for the immediate future are carry-over measures that I am working on for the 2020 session, including a healthcare bill to allow business associations to offer health plans to their members who otherwise do not have access to affordable insurance. I serve on the Senate Finance Committee and this year is the critical budget year where my goal is to craft a sound budget that responds to the needs of my constituents and allocates resources where we need them most.
I chair the Senate committee responsible for election bills and during my tenure I have been a supporter of countless election reform measures. I have introduced bills to allow early no excuse absentee voting. I have introduced legislation to reform the state board of elections, and to address issues related to funding, election staff, operations, registrars, election equipment, and to change the date to increase voter participation among other things.
Virtually every year since I have served in the Senate, I have introduced legislation to implement redistricting reform. I have introduced criteria bills, bi-partisan commissions and the constitutional amendment. The process should be fair, transparent, non-partisan and produce maps where districts are geographically compact, contiguous and protect communities of common interest. I have supported every reform option proposed and I managed the process for the 2019 legislation that came before the Senate committee I chair. I was a key advocate for last year’s bill and I absolutely support the measure. I will continue to advocate for reforms that will impact redistricting in 2021 and will work to pass legislation consistent with the non-partisan commission bills that I have introduced in the past.
While Virginia is a part time citizen legislature, my State Senate job done properly is a full-time job. Fifty percent of the time is dedicated to research, drafting legislation and 24-hour a day work during the legislative session. The remaining 50% is full-time constituent service, meeting the needs of those in the community with very real problems that an active and engaged Senate office has the capacity to help solve.
I have the benefit of experience in public policy, law, business, community service, public service, working with charities and constituent service. My experience makes me practical, results oriented, open-minded and educated about the issues that matter. I have built a legislative office around constituent service and avoid partisan disputes. Instead, I have focused on legislative priorities that were meaningful to the people that I represent.
During my tenure in office, I have completed countless surveys that are available for review online. The DLS searchable database has a legislative history of every bill I have patroned. Also, please visit www.senatorjillvogel.com to review legislative updates spanning countless votes along with an explanations of bills or call my office at 540-270-7055.
Access to affordable healthcare; expansion of infrastructure in Virginia; careful management of redistricting after 2020 and implementation of non-partisan reform; protection of the environment; preservation of agriculture and the ag economy; opioids and addiction services in my district; challenges facing first responders and those in public safety, including funding and certain insurance coverage; workforce training; and resources and programs to improve public education.