Hala Ayala is a Democratic candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor. Her name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.

Name: Hala Ayala

Race: Lieutenant Governor

Party: Democratic

Website: halaforvirginia.com

Biography: A lifelong Virginian, Del. Hala Ayala was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 and currently represents the 51st District which covers parts of Prince William County. Ayala is the daughter of a Salvadorian and North African immigrant father and an Irish and Lebanese mother. She has worked as a cyber security specialist for over 20 years with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect our nation’s information systems.

Ayala has also been a women’s rights activist for over a decade. She was the president of Prince William County National Organization for Women, appointed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to serve on the Women’s Advisory Council, and in 2017 she helped organize Virginia’s attendance at the first Women’s March in Washington.

As a delegate, Ayala has worked to pass some of Virginia’s most important pieces of legislation, like expanding Medicaid for over 500,000 Virginians, raising teacher pay, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and helping small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ayala is running for lieutenant governor because she understands our Commonwealth, its history, its challenges, its many opportunities, and wants to ensure every Virginian has the opportunity to succeed.

Why should Virginians elect you as Lieutenant Governor? 

Service and uplifting others is at the heart of everything that I do. Growing up, my family struggled to make ends meet. I lost my father to gun violence at a young age, and my family stood in food lines. When I had my son, I worked in a gas station without any safety net, but Medicaid saved our lives. I know exactly how thin the line can be between struggle and success, and because of that, my work is focused on making sure that every Virginian can thrive.

It has been an honor to serve as chief deputy whip in the Virginia House of Delegates to deliver on promises like expanding Medicaid, passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act, and keeping Virginia number 1 for business; however, my work in the Virginia House of Delegates is the floor, not the ceiling. I am the only candidate in this race with both the lived and legislative leadership experience necessary to continue advancing Virginia’s priorities. As lieutenant governor, I’ll never stop fighting for a more prosperous Virginia.

What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?

I’m ready to hit the ground running day one. As lieutenant governor, my priorities will be to further expand Medicaid, invest in our schools, students, and teachers, pass gun safety reforms, and come back stronger from COVID-19 by growing our economy. No Virginian should ever be one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. We need to rebuild our crumbling school infrastructure and make sure our students and teachers have the resources they need to thrive. It’s time to end gun violence in our Commonwealth. Weapons of war have no place in our schools, grocery stores, or movie theaters. We made so much progress in the Virginia General Assembly, but we can’t stop there. I’ll continue to make Virginians’ safety and success my priority. 

What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?

I am fully committed to building Virginia back stronger and more equitably from this pandemic. First and foremost, this means following the science. All Virginians must do their part by going to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their kids, friends, neighbors, family members, teachers, essential workers, and more. We need to provide quality and affordable child and elder care to help women, who are typically their household’s primary caregivers, get back to work. We need to support the black and brown communities who were disproportionately affected by this pandemic. There’s a lot of work to be done, and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves alongside Gov. Terry McAuliffe to get it done. 

What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?

We are so lucky to have had strong leaders like Gov. Ralph Northam to navigate Virginia through this pandemic. None of us saw COVID-19 coming, but we followed the science and acted quickly to support our Commonwealth’s families, small businesses, and communities, and now we are leading a stronger-than-expected economic recovery that generated a $2.6 billion surplus. The budget we passed during the most recent special legislative session with President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan dollars is an outline of the progress we want to continue to make to build back better. We’ll continue to invest in Virginia’s public schools, fight to expand high-speed internet access, and support hardworking Virginians and business owners. 

What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia, and how would you plan to address them?

COVID-19 exacerbated inequities that already existed within our society. This pandemic was especially hard for black and brown communities and for women. That’s why we need to invest in quality and affordable health care and child care. That way, Virginians can get the care they need and women, who are typically caregivers in their households, can re-enter the workforce because they have access to affordable child care.

The pandemic also showed how vital it is for us to expand high-speed internet to all Virginians so kids can learn from home and employees working remotely can do so reliably. We need to fight to further expand affordable health care to the 700,000 Virginians who still live without it. In order to defeat this virus, we all need to do our part by getting vaccinated, following the science, and accessing the care we need. These are the things I’ll fight for as lieutenant governor.