Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy Has A Message: "If You Want Something Done Well, Let A Woman Do It

Jennifer Carroll Foy was elected to represent District Two in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. Since her election, the former public defender, who was pregnant with twins for most of her race, has used her platform to support women's rights, education, transportation, and Medicaid expansion. This week Emily's List celebrated her work, nominating her for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award. And in the aftermath of rapid-succession scandals—two separate instances of blackface and two serious accusations of sexual assault that have implicated Governor Ralph Northam, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring—some would like to see her named to a statewide position.

In the meantime, all three men have declined to step down from their offices, and Foy is content to remain in hers, since it means she can continue to serve her constituents. Here, Foy takes Glamour inside the past two weeks in Virginia politics and explains how the controversies have made her more committed than ever to her legislative priorities and a progressive agenda.

It’s hard to describe what the past week has been like. I’m sad and disappointed. And like a lot of people, I feel shocked too.

On a personal level, it’s like when a friend or a relative has done something egregious. And you know you have to be able to separate your friendship or your personal relationship from what they have done or were alleged to have done. You have to be able to think clearly about what the accusation is. But in this case, it’s not just a personal issue. I represent tens of thousands of people. Their voice is what calls me to action. I have to think about how a situation looks to them, how a situation like this feels for them. That’s the job of someone in public office.

As legislators, we’re here to do the people’s business and move Virginia forward. That’s what’s important, and that’s what people elected us to do. But this situation that we’re in—I’m not just disappointed about what some of our statewide leaders have done or what they’ve been accused of. I’m disappointed that the recent controversies have distracted us in government from the agenda that we want to enact. And I’m determined to separate out these personal faults from our legislative priorities.

It’s easy when you’re a legislator to be distracted by the noise that’s around you. I try my best to be as principled as possible because that’s why voters sent me to Richmond. That’s what I just really try to focus on. This week—and I’ve had to do this three times—I’ve looked at the accusations and said to myself, “If this was an unknown person to me and he was in one of the highest leadership positions in some other state, how would I respond?” When there are allegations of sexual abuse and allegations of racism, we have to condemn them and find it deplorable, whether we find it in Republicans or Democrats. There has to be one standard.

A lot of voters have emailed and called me over the past week. Some people ask for resignation; some people don’t. With blackface, some people said, “Hey, sometimes people are a product of their environment.” And some people said, “This is absolutely inexcusable and the person must go because they are a liability to the party.” So it’s been the complete spectrum. A lot of people who have reached out are people who knocked on doors and volunteered for our statewide ticket. They have fund-raised and donated. They believed in these men as candidates and expected so much more from them. So I hear them and I empathize. And I’ve tried my best to communicate their responses in conversations with our leaders to make sure they understand the full gravity of the situation. They’ve affected real people who believed in them. It’s so much bigger than them.

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