Qasim Rashid is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives,Virginia’s 1st District. The Congressional Election is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2020.
He is facing Republican incumbent Rob Wittman.
Candidate Name: Qasim Rashid
Race: U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 1st District
Biography: As a human rights lawyer, I’ve dedicated my life to supporting women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and serving children from vulnerable communities. I’m running to transform my advocacy into policy for the working families of Virginia’s 1st District.
I’m a proud immigrant and a devoted father and husband. I earned my law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia. My work as a human rights lawyer includes combating domestic and sexual violence against women and advocating for children’s education.
I channel my passion to serve the marginalized by working with nonprofit organizations that advance women’s rights, improve water, food, shelter, healthcare, and education access for children living in poverty, and fight to protect religious freedom for all people. I have written numerous books and worked with the U.S. government to improve national security here at home, while upholding the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
I also work as a consultant to help major organizations, small businesses, and nonprofits improve their corporate strategies, messaging, and innovation. I love interfaith dialogue, running marathons, reading, and spending time with my wife and children. My wife, Ayesha, is a small business owner and works for a climate justice organization while volunteering with interfaith outreach in the community. Together, we have three beautiful children, live in Stafford, and attend worship services at the Masroor Mosque in Manassas.
Why should Virginians elect you to the U.S. House of Representatives?
Virginians should elect me to the U.S. House of Representatives because as the next congressman, I will serve with honesty, integrity, compassion, and leadership. With leadership based on compassion through action, we will unite communities, instill a sense of belonging, and help mobilize against the big issues that VA-01’s working families are facing. Our campaign is running to serve and support working families and provide needed leadership in Virginia’s 1st District.
What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?
Folks in Virginia are struggling with access to quality healthcare, access to high-speed broadband internet, and increasing income inequality and lack of a living wage. I spent part of my career working in employment law protecting the rights of workers, and I believe a living wage is a human right. I believe that it is necessary to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, to protect workers with the prevailing wage requirement on government contracts, and to remove bad actors who undermine the integrity of union and non-union contractors. This is how we can improve the lives of Virginians and make sure that our working families are being supported and advocated for.
What is the top challenge facing your district, and how would you address it if elected?
Our district faces many challenges but one that has remained unaddressed over the last 12 years is getting high-speed broadband internet to our rural constituents.
The incumbent congressman has paid lip service to this critical problem, evidenced by his recent proposed legislation which lacks any tangible solutions to effectively addressing this issue for rural Americans. Broadband internet access is essential to claiming opportunity and for that reason, broadband should be treated as a utility.
President Barack Obama was right when he called for internet service to be reclassified as a public utility. We should make that into federal law. 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic passes through the 10 million square feet of data centers situated in Northern Virginia; however, significant parts of the 1st District lack reliable internet access.
Folks in Middlesex, Caroline, Mathews, New Kent, and more do not have the access they need to access education, telecommute, run their business, and access healthcare. As congressman, I will work to pass legislation that ensures that broadband access is treated as a utility and that the federal government empowers municipalities to provide this critical service, while making the necessary investments to provide high speed broadband to rural and underserved communities.
In light of Virginia’s recent gun control debates, what, if any, gun laws would you support changing?
Common sense gun reforms like extreme risk protective orders, universal background checks, and new assault weapons bans, have broad support across the political spectrum. Also, responsible gun laws don’t curtail freedom, happiness, safety, and/or national peace—they support freedom, happiness, safety, and national peace.
We can see how by looking at just four representative democracies as examples — Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. Each are developed western societies with comparable economies, living standards, and demographics to the United States.Gun violence is an epidemic in America, causing over 40,000 annual deaths, far surpassing every other developed nation and western democracy.
Meaningful gun laws work, in which responsible citizens have access to firearms for self-defense and hunting needs; however, we need to ensure that our children and families are protected from daily gun violence, mass shooters, and terrorists. As Congressman, I will work to assure the empowerment of Virginians to use guns responsibly, while enjoying the freedoms, happiness, safety, and peace that come with that ownership.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has showcased a lack of leadership at the federal level — which has cost tens of thousands of lives, and thrown our local economies into upheaval. This pandemic has not only created a public health crisis — with severe outbreaks in Prince William and James City counties — it has also had an overwhelming impact on our local economy.
Folks are being laid off from their jobs, losing access to healthcare, and struggling to obtain government assistance to get them through this trying period. Additionally, folks in the rural parts of the district do not have the access they need to work remotely, access education, and access telehealth services.
We need honest, accountable leadership to help navigate us out of this public health crisis and to help recover and restart our economy. We need a robust posture on healthcare, with the scaling up of testing being of utmost importance. It is wide scale testing that will effectively restart the economy, short of a COVID-19 vaccine. We must also use regular testing to ensure that front line essential workers are safe and not contagious. By using testing scientifically in the rest of the population, we can effectively trace the spread of the virus to kill off transmission lines.
We must utilize the Defense Production Act to manufacture the equipment we desperately need, we have got to protect medical professionals and patients. Congress must step in and address this crisis. We must also ensure that essential supply chains continue to flow — food, medicine, health care, masks, protective equipment, etc. The federal government must be able to step in to assist with these vital chains if the states are unable to.
The federal government must also ensure that workers and small businesses are protected. That means continuing to pass legislation that will protect paychecks and ensure that workers are not forced to go into workplaces where they may be at risk of spreading or contracting the virus. Only once we have mass testing and scaled contact tracing, can we begin to relax lock down measures. This will ensure that those being released into labor markets are safe and healthy.
It is imperative that we support workers on the front line of this crisis, in hospitals and grocery stores and warehouses all across America. They need a living wage, hazard pay, and paid sick time off. They need personal protective equipment. They need the federal government to do its job.
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