Aaron Rouse is a candidate for the Virginia State Senate, District 7. A special election for this seat will take place on Jan. 10.

Name: Aaron Rouse

Race: Virginia Senate, District 7

Party: Democrat

Website: Aaron Rouse for Virginia Senate

Biography: Aaron Rouse was born and raised in Virginia Beach. He attended First Colonial High School and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he was also a student athlete. Rouse was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2007 National Football League (NFL) Draft and also played for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals.

After retiring from the NFL, Rouse returned home to Virginia Beach to begin his career in public service. He served as a coach and a mentor before founding Rouse’s House, a nonprofit organization that serves to establish education as the foundation for today’s youth, with a primary goal of exposing youth and families in the community to a broader world of learning. On Nov. 6, 2018, Rouse was elected to the Virginia Beach City Council as an at-large member.

He enjoys outdoor activities and currently resides in the heart of Virginia Beach with his wife Jennifer, and son and daughter. Now, Rouse is running in the special election to be Virginia Beach and Norfolk’s next state senator from District 7.

Why should Virginians elect you to the Senate?

After retiring from the NFL, I returned home to Virginia Beach to begin my career in public service. I started a nonprofit serving young people in need, and in 2018 I ran for Virginia Beach City Council. As a member of City Council, I have delivered real results and worked to improve the lives of our community members. I voted to raise the minimum wage to $15, increased pay for teachers, first responders and police officers, and I lowered taxes for small businesses. As a member of the Virginia Senate, I will bring that same level of focus to serving the 7th Senate District. 

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

In Virginia and across our nation, reproductive freedoms are under attack and access to birth control and abortion are at risk. I firmly believe these incredibly important and private decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, not politicians. If elected to the Senate, I will fight back against any effort to restrict reproductive rights, and will work to ensure they are protected. There could not be more at stake in this election, which is why I am running for Senate.

What is the top challenge facing your district, and how would you address it?

The most important issue facing our district is building an economy that works for everyone and not just some. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet and put food on their tables. It is our job as leaders to build sustainable pathways to a stronger economy. That has been my priority on City Council, and it will be my priority in the Senate. We need to do everything from investing in education so we can set young people up for success, to building a strong and skilled workforce, to attracting new jobs and industries to the region. Virginia Beach and Norfolk are teeming with opportunities for growth, and I intend to leverage our assets to create new opportunities for families in every community. 

What legislation would you plan to sponsor in your first year? 

As Senator, I will be focused on building a stronger economy where every person can thrive. That includes everything from investing in education so our youngest community members are in a position to succeed when they graduate, to ensuring students have access to job training so they can obtain critical skills, to finding new and innovative ways to attract businesses and good-paying jobs to the region. 

As Senator, I will also work to make housing more affordable and build new workforce housing. Too many people cannot afford to live where they work which creates tremendous challenges for workers and their families. We can do more to address this, and I look forward to bringing my ideas to Richmond.

I will also be focused on lowering the cost of health care, because too many people have to sacrifice their health and wellbeing in order to provide for their families. The cost of prescription drugs has increased dramatically in recent years, placing a tremendous burden on families everywhere. Reproductive health care rights are also under attack and at stake in this election. As Senator, I will work to lower the cost of health care and fiercely protect reproductive rights.

How is gun violence impacting your district, and how do you plan to address gun violence?

Gun violence is an epidemic, and we must do more to address it. I know firsthand the toll gun violence takes on families and communities. I witnessed a shooting at a young age, I was a student athlete at Virginia Tech during the tragic 2007 shooting, and I was a member of the Virginia Beach City Council when the mass shooting occurred in 2019.

I’ve spent my professional life working to be a role model for young people by finding ways to bring people together, build relationships and equip young people with the skills to approach conflict with level heads and not firearms. I’ve created opportunities to use sports and fitness as a way to resolve issues and prevent gun violence.

As your Councilman, I was proud to partner with the Department of Justice and Virginia Beach Police Department in the Third Precinct to deepen relationships within our community. I was equally proud to have the Virginia Beach Police Department present when we opened the first park and basketball court in the community I grew up in. Our children deserve to see someone from their community who they trust. In the Virginia Senate, I will build on the progress we’ve made and be a champion for efforts to reduce crime in our communities.