Kelly Convirs-Fowler is a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 21. Her name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Candidate: Kelly Convirs-Fowler
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 21
Biography: Kelly Convirs-Fowler is dedicated to the service of others. A resident of Virginia Beach since childhood, she’s a small business owner who specializes in military family relocation, a former school teacher, and a state delegate who works for results that matter for us.
Since she was elected to serve, she was a key vote to expand Medicaid, helping connect more Virginians with affordable health care. She led the effort to decriminalize marijuana in Virginia, and she voted to raise teacher pay and provide tax breaks for small businesses across the Commonwealth.
A mother of three, Convirs-Fowler is aware that the choices the Virginia legislature makes matter to the next generation. It’s why she’s committed to taking bold action to curb gun violence, fight flooding and the climate crisis, implement common sense justice and policing reforms, and build a more equitable economy for all.
Convirs-Fowler serves with integrity and transparency, and will support legislation to ensure other elected officials do the same. Her personal, gift, and campaign finance disclosures can be found here.
Why should Virginians re-elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
I have the experience, both professionally and personally, that is needed to continue advocating for 21st District constituents. My husband and I both come from military families, we both were raised in this district, and we are now raising our three daughters here. My oldest two attend Virginia Beach Public Schools, and so will my youngest when it’s time. My husband is a sheriff’s deputy for the city of Virginia Beach, and I used to teach at Lynnhaven Elementary. Public service has always been a cornerstone in our families and lives.
I am so honored, fortunate, and grateful that I have the privilege of being the delegate for the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 21st District for two terms now. I have the experience of the process, and I have the track record that proves I’m the right person to advocate for the 21st District. Since I was sworn into office in 2018, we expanded Medicaid, capped the cost of insulin co-pays, expanded voting rights, abolished the death penalty, legalized cannabis, made strides in reforming our criminal justice system, passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, appointed the most diverse slate of judges Virginia has ever seen, raised teacher pay, and so much more. I look forward to continuing this good work for Virginian families in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
While I’m proud of my accomplishments thus far, I am far from done with making progress in Virginia! I look forward to continuing to fight to protect Virginians that experience virtual harassment. I sponsored legislation last session that would make it illegal to send unsolicited nude/lewd pictures electronically, but it died in the Virginia Senate.
I will be introducing budget amendments if our proposed 2022 budget doesn’t include adequate funding for stormwater projects. Across Virginia, especially in my district, we are experiencing the effects of climate change tenfold. We cannot afford to waste any more time. We must prioritize and fund projects that will help lessen the effects of recurrent flooding and stronger storms from climate change.
Additionally, I will continue to fight for our public schools, ensuring that they are fully funded and have all the resources they need to be successful. Our children are the future, and we need to prioritize and invest in them! Part of that includes continuing to increase teacher pay. I was proud to support and vote for a 5% teacher pay increase, but it doesn’t stop there. We need to ensure Virginia is above the national average for teacher pay.
What is the most important issue facing your district, and what is your position on it?
Access to affordable healthcare is by far what my office hears from constituents most frequently. If they have healthcare plans at all, they’re not affordable or the co-pays are too high. It’s a complex issue, but we have been working on policies so that Virginians aren’t spending their hard earned money on rising healthcare and prescription drug costs.
I was a key vote in 2018 when Virginia expanded Medicaid, allowing over 400,000 Virginians to have access to healthcare they didn’t have before. We have capped co-pays on insulin to $50, as well as inhalers for Virginians with asthma. I’m dedicated to solving the issue and working towards lowering costs of healthcare for all, because healthcare should not be a privilege.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
We are lucky to have a physician as a governor who understands the importance of putting politics aside and listening to the public health experts. If we knew then what we know now, I am sure we could have done even more but hindsight is always 2020 (no pun intended).
If anything, we should have been more aggressive in the very beginning to prevent the ongoing suffering that we are still facing 18 months later. It is difficult when the pandemic transcends state lines — all of our efforts are void when all of the United States is on different pages. I’m thankful we now have proactive, responsive leadership from the federal to state level to guide us through the remaining pandemic. We are so close to the end, we need folks to get vaccinated and mask up before more variants emerge.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
- Unemployment: The pandemic affected industries across the Commonwealth, and as a result, many of my constituents were out of work for various reasons (laid off, employer’s business went under, childcare issues, their own business went under, etc). On top of an already scary situation, many Virginians faced issues with our decades-old unemployment insurance system. My office helped dozens and dozens of constituents with their unemployment claims, and it still remains the top constituent service we provide today. Our technology has not been properly funded in decades and it was one of the many issues that COVID-19 not only shed a light on, but exacerbated. We currently have a Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) study ongoing about the Virginia Employment Commission that is set to complete its report in November. I look forward to supporting the recommendations that come from the audit and review.
- Education: When our schools closed in the Spring of the 2020 academic year and remained virtual throughout the majority of the 2020-2021 academic year, we didn’t quite know the effects that would have on our students and their education. Many of our students thrived in virtual learning, and I fully salute our teachers and school staff for making the impossible possible and giving it their all. A lot of our students didn’t thrive, and really struggled. I know we have a gap to fill, a year of in-person learning that many of our students missed out on and will not get back. During the 2021 Virginia General Assembly session we passed legislation to require JLARC to do a study on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our public schools and students. This will give us a baseline and real data to be able to use to move forward with. Additionally, I voted in favor of SB 1303 that required schools to offer in-person learning while still following and maintaining CDC recommendations; it passed the Virginia General Assembly with broad bipartisan support.
- Childcare: Many parents in Virginia, and across the country, felt the strain of COVID-19 the most with their childcare set up. Some daycares closed, and the ones that remained open had extremely limited capacity available, so many parents weren’t left with any options and had to choose between work and caring for their children. To make matters worse, we heard from parents that continued to pay tuition just to hold their child’s spot, even though they weren’t able to utilize the service. Even without the pandemic, child care costs are a huge barrier in our country and in Virginia. The pandemic made matters worse and, once again, exacerbated the issue. I got to work with my Virginia General Assembly colleagues and, alongside Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, we expanded the Child Care Subsidy Program in Virginia. This expansion allowed the program to serve more families, giving eligible applicants 12 months of child care assistance. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and stakeholders on this issue to lower childcare costs, outside of the COVID-19 pandemic as well.