Mark Downey is the Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 96. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Candidate: Mark Downey
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 96
Biography: Mark Downey is a lifelong resident of the 96th District, and moved to Williamsburg at the age of 2 years old when his father retired from the U.S. Air Force. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia, and worked for four years as a chemical engineer. Once he realized his passion lay in health care, he attended the Medical College of Virginia, completed his residency in New York, and became a pediatrician in Williamsburg, where he has served the children and parents of the community for the past 20 years. Downey is a husband, father to four children, and has one dog, five cats, and six chickens.
Why should Virginians elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
The 96th District deserves a unifying leader who seeks to serve all who live, work, and study in our beautiful district. For too long, we’ve been represented by leaders who have been out of touch with the needs of our community. As a physician, community volunteer, and parent, I understand the concerns our neighbors have and am prepared to work for everyone, not just those who vote for me. As a future delegate, voters can rely on me to use evidence-based data to make informed policy decisions based on facts and science.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
My campaign’s focus on children and their families will heavily influence the policy I pursue once elected. We need to ensure that families are able to afford to live in the 96th District. This includes the ability to obtain affordable housing, child care, and earn a living wage.
We also need to invest in our public education system, including providing universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-old children, updating crumbling school infrastructure, raising teacher pay to at or above the national average, and ensuring students have additional educational pathways to pursue careers in the trades.
Finally, every Virginian should have access to affordable, comprehensive health care that includes medical, dental, vision, hearing, and mental care coverage because all children and families deserve an equal opportunity to thrive. If we invest in affordable living, educational opportunities, and access to health care, we can set children up on a path to lifelong success.
What is the most important issue facing your district, and what is your position on it?
For most people in my district, and across Virginia, the most critical issue is always access to reliable, affordable, and comprehensive health care. I’ve seen firsthand how insurance companies focus on their own profit instead of coverage for people who are already paying too much for care, and this is wrong. We need to get a delegate in office who intimately understands the complexities of health care and how we can move Virginia forward by providing better comprehensive care that affords every person the coverage they need.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
The slow rollout of information and immunizations from local health departments in the early phases left many people anxiously waiting their turn for the vaccine. As efforts ramped up and more people were able to be vaccinated quickly, our localities were able to more efficiently vaccinate people and protect our community from the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is also a physician, has been unwavering in his support of the science behind the vaccine and in communicating to communities across Virginia about the need for vaccination. Vaccine information disseminated through the Virginia Department of Health has no doubt reached countless people in the Commonwealth and saved lives.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated already existing problems here in the 96th District related to family-friendly priorities, including access to health care, affordable child care, and paid sick leave. As many families found themselves working remotely without the option to safely send their children to in-person school, parents found themselves confronted with paying for the high cost of child care or taking a loss in income to be home with their children. When people became infected with COVID-19, the lack of paid sick leave put workers at risk of infection from co-workers who couldn’t afford to stay home from work unpaid, and emergency rooms were inundated with patients past capacity. People who lack access to affordable health care have been hit particularly hard with financial setbacks and bills that will take years to pay off.
As a pediatrician, I believe that family-friendly policies should be prioritized in the Virginia General Assembly. If we invest in families and tackle issues related to access to health care, affordable child care, and paid sick leave, we can ensure workers and families have their needs met and set them up for success. I’m looking forward to bringing my health care expertise to Richmond and delivering results for families.