Sam Rasoul is a Democratic candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor. His name will appear on the ballot on June 8 during the Democratic Party primary election.
Name: Sam Rasoul
Race: Lieutenant Governor
Biography: Since he was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2014, Del. Sam Rasoul has fought for the people of Virginia by passing legislation that expands health care access, starting the Impact Center initiative to support and empower organizers and new leaders, and modeling a new approach to politics through his Democratic Promise initiative, which connects Virginians in need to government services that can help.
From speaking out against fracked gas pipelines we don’t need, to voting against ratepayer rip-offs, and rejecting special interest PAC donations, Sam has been showing up for communities across Virginia fighting for justice and he will continue lifting up voices across the Commonwealth as Lieutenant Governor. He lives in his hometown, Roanoke, with his spouse, Layaly, and their three children.
Why should Virginians elect you as Lieutenant Governor?
As an ethnic and religious minority who grew up in a working-class family, and as a delegate representing the Roanoke area since 2014, I understand that our communities are not being served equitably, and that we need broad, intersectional coalitions to create the necessary changes to achieve that equity.
That’s how we’ve expanded health care access, strengthened voting rights and stopped dangerous pipelines, and it’s what we must continue to build as we recover from a historically difficult year. As a member of the Black Caucus and the Rural Caucus in the Virginia House of Delegates, and as a longtime fighter for progressive change, I believe I can be part of the glue to bring that coalition together and do something transformational for our commonwealth.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
Having traveled from far-west Lee County to Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore, and from Danville on our southern border to Arlington and Northern Virginia, I can say I’ve spoken to so many in every place I’ve visited who feel like government doesn’t listen to them. There is a coalition here — black, brown, and white — which, if we band together, can create a government that works for all of us.
This pandemic has shown us that health care must be a right, regardless of whether you have a job and regardless of your zip code. In the Virginia House of Delegates, I’ve passed legislation increasing vaccine capacity and access to medical providers. In this campaign, I’ve released a detailed COVID-19 recovery plan that calls for a public option and a Drug Price Affordability Board to stop price-gouging, and I’m ready to take my years of experience fighting to expand health care access to the Office of Lieutenant Governor.
We also need a Marshall Plan for Moms. The data is clear that women, and especially moms, have borne the brunt of this pandemic. The first comprehensive policy I released in this campaign was a bold plan to support caregivers and Virginia families by providing affordable, high-quality child care for every family and paid family and medical leave for every worker, creating a new caregiver tax credit, and more. Not only is a Marshall Plan the best long-term investment we can make, but it’s the surest way to get our economy back on track and come back from the pandemic stronger than ever.
What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?
Whether we are looking at health care, jobs and wages, climate, criminal justice, housing, or broadband, the issue that repeatedly raises itself in Virginia is whether our policies will be unduly influenced by giant corporate donors, instead of doing what is best for all people.
I was the only member of the Virginia House of Delegates to refuse PAC donations in 2017, and every dollar into our campaign comes from individuals only. That’s because we need broadband policy decided by voters, not Comcast; climate policy decided by voters, not Dominion; and drug pricing decided by voters, not Big Pharma.
My eight years of experience in the state House has shown me that if we are going to enact the progressive changes we need, we need to make sure the people have an equitable voice in Richmond. That means real campaign finance reform that bans donations from state-regulated utilities like Dominion and gets corporate money out of politics.
What is your position on Virginian’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
Unfortunately, our response to the coronavirus pandemic was significantly hampered by the previous federal administration that first failed to provide federal resources and guidance in an appropriate time frame, and failed to order enough vaccine in the winter. We’ve made significant progress since then, and local leaders across Virginia stepped up in an unprecedented moment to make sure their neighbors and constituents didn’t fall through the cracks.
In Roanoke, I and other local leaders helped to distribute 20,000 masks and hand sanitizer at the height of last year’s lockdown. That sort of community-led organizing happened all over Virginia, and that is what we must continue to do to come back stronger than ever.
When our staff and volunteers reach out to voters, the first question we ask is if the person on the other end of the line needs help with government services such as unemployment, the DMV or other social services. If they say yes, we take on their case and help. We call it the Democratic Promise program. At a time when a lot of people feel isolated, many folks just appreciate the phone call and hearing that someone is looking out for them, especially those who have been struggling to get help but didn’t know where to start. As Lieutenant Governor, I would bring the spirit of the Democratic Promise to the office. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it helps restore trust in government and bring new people into our coalition.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia, and how would you plan to address them?
Even as we see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of stopping the virus, we still have an economic crisis to deal with. Loss of jobs and income also resulted in more barriers to health care access, and we need to ensure affordable health care for all and access to medical providers in areas that are historically underserved.
As Lieutenant Governor, I would build on my legislation to increase provider access for people who may not have access to primary care providers, as well as my budget amendment to increase the number of medical professionals we have in areas with a shortage of health care workers. We also need to protect workers and end the disgrace of Virginia being last in the nation in terms of workers’ rights. I’m proud our campaign for Lieutenant Governor is the first and only in Virginia history to unionize, and if elected I would continue to fight so-called “right-to-work” laws that disempower workers and lower wages.
The importance of closing the digital divide is now more pressing than ever, as internet access becomes pivotal for education, health care, and business. I believe we need to treat the internet like a utility, and my comprehensive broadband plan calls for lowering prices by requiring all providers to offer a basic, affordable plan. We also need to empower localities and independent alternatives to build infrastructure where the big telecoms won’t, and get rid of the needless restrictions written by and for the cable companies to limit their competition.
I know many folks across Virginia like my wife and I are doing double-duty, taking care of our kids while also looking after our aging parents. We need to recognize the value of caregivers who picked up the slack over the last year to keep our economy afloat. I believe the best long-term and short-term investment we can make is in families and in caregivers by making quality child care available for all, making sure workers receive paid family and medical leave, and ensuring that our older Virginians can live healthy, independent lives. Our campaign has released comprehensive plans to address the issues above and more, available at sam4va.com