Jordan Gray is the Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 93. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Candidate: Jordan Gray
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 93
Biography: Jordan Gray was born and raised in Virginia. Gray grew up in the small town of Madison where he was taught the value of hard work and community engagement. Growing up in a single-parent home with his mom and younger brother wasn’t always easy, but it made him cherish his family, friends, and teachers.
Gray realized the importance of education in his life, and, at a young age, he decided to follow his passion for teaching. Gray was humbled to be the first person within his family to attend college. He graduated from Christopher Newport University with his bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in teaching. While studying at CNU, Gray gained a love for Hampton Roads and its cultural diversity. In 2018, Gray began teaching at An Achievable Dream Middle and High School in the Southeast community of Newport News.
Gray is currently a social studies teacher at Warhill High School in Williamsburg where he leads the “Teachers for Tomorrow” program. The program prepares and trains teenagers interested in pursuing a career in teaching. Gray devotes all of his time to inspiring the young minds of his students to reach their fullest potential and always follow their dreams.
Beyond teaching, Gray is an active member of the community. From serving as a youth pastor, to running a bus ministry, Gray has a passion to help our community by giving back and serving others. Currently, Gray attends All Nations Church in Newport News where he actively tutors refugee children, assists with the food bank, and helps with the teen ministry.
Why should Virginians elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
I am a trusted teacher with a passion to unify our community, and I am committed to solving real problems with positive results. In the classroom and our community, I am devoted to working together and building the Peninsula into the best place in Virginia to live, work, and raise a family.
When I am elected, I will serve our community and its constituents before anyone or anything else. True leaders understand how to put party politics aside by building bridges instead of creating barriers. Our community needs a leader who has experienced the struggle of growing up in a single-parent home, surviving off of food stamps, and navigating the dysfunctions of Medicaid. Finally, our district deserves a leader who never loses hope for a brighter tomorrow, and invests all of their time inspiring that same drive to future generations.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
When I am elected, I have three priorities that I would like to immediately focus on. First, it is time to rethink education across Virginia by promoting parental involvement in their children’s education and providing adequate funding for our teachers and schools. Second, we need to put an emphasis on reviving small businesses around the Peninsula and our community. We must focus on reducing tax burdens specifically on small businesses and cut senseless regulations that slow or deter growth and minimize profits. Lastly, we will restore justice throughout our community by establishing trust between law enforcement and citizens.
In order to accomplish all of these goals, it will require our community to unite together. The fighting and bickering among our current leaders must come to an end. In my career as a teacher, it has been my responsibility to unite my classroom around the common goal of learning. When I am elected, I will do everything within my power to end the senseless fighting and restore faith in those elected to represent us.
What is the most important issue facing your district, and what is your position on it?
After meeting thousands of voters across the district, it is clear that the most important issue is education. Even before the pandemic, there were already major problems facing our public schools. Virginia’s teachers are among the lowest paid in the United States and our schools are plagued with growing shortages in the classroom, the cafeteria, and on the bus. These shortages are a direct result of underrepresentation of educators within our state government and the misappropriation of funding within education. As a teacher, I stand with my colleagues in calling for an honest and well-deserved pay raise. When I am elected, I plan to introduce legislation that would match the federal tax credit for teachers at the state level to provide immediate relief for teachers purchasing supplies for their classroom.
Additionally, we will end Virginia’s decades-long emphasis on testing instead of teaching. Our kids deserve to be taught how to think instead of what to think. As delegate, I will introduce legislation that will minimize Standards of Learning testing and innovate our curriculum to be student-centered and career-focused. Above all, I will fight to ensure that every child receives the highest quality of education regardless of their zip code.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
Virginia’s initial response to COVID-19 was necessary due to the limited information available on how the virus spreads. As more information about the virus became available, Virginia’s response did not adapt to adequately address the pandemic’s evolving conditions. The primary problems presented by the pandemic.
Our current leaders chose a “one size fits all” approach to respond to the pandemic. Our economy, small businesses, workers, families, and students suffered the severe consequences. Small businesses were forced to close while large corporations were granted special exceptions. Parents and children were forced to navigate a confusing virtual curriculum that left them feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Mental health facilities in our area were forced to turn patients away because of the lack of medical professionals.
As for responding differently, I would have listened to the concerns of our small businesses to ensure they had the same opportunities as large corporations. I would have stood with those struggling with job loss and financial hardships to ensure that the Virginia Employment Commission was prepared to quickly address all of Virginia’s unemployment issues. Next, I would have looked for additional ways to reopen our schools sooner with better distancing and mitigation strategies. Finally, I would have never closed our places of worship, but rather encouraged them to become innovative in their way of ministering to the community around them with appropriate safety precautions.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
Since schools in our area remained largely reliant upon virtual instruction during this pandemic, so many of our students are suffering from major learning loss and mental health issues. I plan to push for investments that will bring the student-to-counselor ratio down and increase the number of support staff in our schools. Additionally, I plan to bring our community stakeholders together to offer more after-school learning opportunities that are fun and engaging to students. Both of these proposals will combat the growing mental health crisis amongst our students and the unimaginable learning loss experience from being confined to the virtual environment for so long.
The pandemic took a serious toll on our tourism industry in the 93rd District. Thousands of jobs within the hospitality industry were lost due to COVID-19 restrictions and record-low tourism throughout the region. Our elected officials disregarded reasonable proposals to reopen small businesses safely and provide vital sources of income to employees and revenue for localities.
Together we can revive our small business community and hospitality industry. I will fight to cut taxes and regulations so that small businesses and hotels can once again be profitable and attract tourists. Lastly, unlike our current leadership, I plan to propose state grants to the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport that will allow them to attract more low-cost airlines to our area, which in turn will bring in countless tourists to dine, shop, and explore all the Historic Triangle has to offer.
Due to isolation throughout the pandemic our area has been faced with unprecedented feelings of division. Misinformation on facts and distrust in our leadership has created a sense of hopelessness and a distraction to continue building a better tomorrow.
Education is the key to revive our shattered schools, small businesses, and reunite our community. Instead of bitterly fighting and resorting to hatred and incivility, I plan to be the leader who can bring us together by focusing on what matters most. I will stop at nothing to bring all of our community partners and stakeholders together to get things done for our area and to build our brighter future.