Karen L. Jenkins is a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 89. Her name will appear on the ballot on November 7, 2023.

Jenkins is running against Republican candidate N. Baxter Ennis.

The first day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office for this election is Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Click here to see who is on your ballot.

10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race with specific questions. The responses below came directly from the candidate and are unedited. If you do not see the candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.

Name: Karen L. Jenkins

Age: 57

Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 89

Party: Democratic

Website: https://karenforvirginia.com/

Biography: Karen grew up in rural Suffolk, where she learned the value of a hard day’s work and community. Throughout her life, she has been a passionate advocate for others. As a mental health professional for almost a decade, she knows that services in Virginia are lacking. As a two-term representative on the school board, she is a champion for education, public safety, and mental health. She is happily married and has three daughters and two grandchildren. She is the only qualified candidate to represent the 89th district. 

Why are you running for this office?

As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads and current elected official, I believe I have the passion, experience, and knowledge to truly represent the people of Suffolk and Chesapeake. I reflect the values of my community and aspire to create legislation that would improve our lives. 

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

Making a more affordable Virginia for every hard working citizen in the Commonwealth. Ensuring our tax and budgeting process is fair and not tilted to the powerful and wealthy. 

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

As sea level rises, climate disasters worsen and flooding is becoming a more common occurrence, we are seeing the region I was raised in being eroded. I forcefully disagree with the decision to withdraw from RGGI, which works to allocate funds from its general budget to support flooding and resiliency programs. Instead of wasting revenue on tax breaks for profitable corporations, we should be investing in climate change readiness. This would involve setting aside a specific amount of money annually to address these issues like this program already provides. To move Virginia forward, we should remain in RGGI and address climate change.

What is your view on Governor Glen Youngkin’s proposal for a 15-week abortion ban with restrictions?

Every woman should be able to make her own medical decisions without interference from politicians. As a Delegate, I will work to protect a woman’s right to choose. 

How do you feel about the politicization of public education?

As a two term school board member and a proud product of public schools, I have concerns that student learning and creating a nurturing environment are no longer our first thought. Some individuals worry that the politicization of public education can lead to a biased or one-sided curriculum that promotes a particular political agenda. As a delegate, I will use my experience and raise teacher’s pay and fully fund our public education system. 

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

I would most like to see legislation passed that improves the everyday lives of hardworking Virginians and moves the Commonwealth forward in the next General Assembly session. That includes establishing a paid family medical leave program that allows more Virginians to take time off from work to recover from a severe illness or care for a loved one without fear of losing their job or their financial security. Additionally, we should guarantee universal Pre-K that will ensure each child has the opportunity for a world-class education. We should also work to expand affordable and comprehensive coverage to more Virginians, by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and safeguarding consumers that can leave families with significant gaps in coverage. Finally improving access to mental health care, including by investing in community-based care, and raising pay to address staffing shortages.

What is your view on unlimited campaign contributions? Should that change?

Yes, A ban on campaign contributions from regulated utility monopolies in VA, plus overturning the ‘Citizens United’ decision by the US Supreme Court in 2010 would go a very long way to reducing the outsize influence of large corporations in elections.

How will you still value constituents with whom you disagree with?

Valuing constituents with whom I disagree is essential for effective and respectful governance. Whether it’s a difference of opinion within my party or someone on the opposite political spectrum, working with various opinions is my forte. It comes down to the basics. Treat all constituents with respect and dignity, regardless of your differences. Maintain a civil and courteous tone in our interactions. Find Common Ground by identifying areas of common interest or shared values. Building on common ground can help foster cooperation and understanding. Finally, encouraging open and honest dialogue. By creating opportunities for constituents to voice their opinions and concerns, and be willing to engage in constructive conversations.