Sean Perryman is a Democratic candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor. his name will appear on the ballot on June 8 during the Democratic Party primary election.
Name: Sean Perryman
Race: Lieutenant Governor
Biography: Sean Perryman is the son of an immigrant father from Barbados and a mother born in segregated South Carolina. He grew up in a working-class family, living between Brooklyn and Manassas.
Sean became the first in his family to go to college, attending Baruch College and going on to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School. From there, Sean launched a career as an attorney, working in law offices in Dallas and Washington, D.C. This part of Sean’s career came to an end in 2016, when his law firm assigned him to a case representing President Donald Trump, and he chose to quit in protest rather than have to defend Trump’s racism and hate.
He found a new position on Capitol Hill, working for former Rep. Elijah Cummings as an investigator on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, where he helped hold the Trump administration accountable.
In 2019, Sean became president of the Fairfax County NAACP, the youngest-ever president in the chapter’s 102-year history. In this position, he quadrupled the paid membership of the chapter and worked with local leaders to address the school to prison pipeline, get emergency loans to black-and-brown-owned small businesses during the pandemic, and rename Robert E. Lee High School to John Lewis High School.
Why should Virginians elect you as Lieutenant Governor?
Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor officially does little beyond preside over the Virginia Senate and break ties when the Virginia Senate splits a vote. To me, the Lieutenant Governor has a much bigger role to play as a leader on bold ideas and a leader within their party. I want to take that platform and bring it to new heights in order to push for the urgent change we need to respond to the pandemic, economic hardship, racial injustice, the climate crisis, and more.
I have experience as an on-the-ground racial justice activist leading my NAACP chapter, and I have the experience holding government accountable from working for former Rep. Elijah Cummings on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. I know how to push the conversations of those in power towards equity because I’ve done it successfully for years. Simply put, Virginians should elect me because I have a new vision for the office of Lieutenant Governor and the experience to get it done.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
There’s a lot Virginia can do to be a more compassionate and fair place for all of us. I want to see us legalize marijuana the right way, with a quick and equitable process, pass common sense campaign finance reforms, repeal the misnamed “Right to Work,” expand broadband to reach every community, replace our current climate plan with one that matches the urgency of the moment and provides green jobs, protect and expand voting rights, and provide paid sick and family leave for all of our workers. In general, I want to be a Lieutenant Governor who empowers regular people to make our government and economy work for them rather than the powerful few.
What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it
Creating an economy that works for all is the biggest issue right now and will continue to be into the future. In 2019, Virginia was ranked the worst state in the entire nation for workers’ rights. The cost of housing, healthcare, childcare, and higher education has steadily gone up while wages have barely budged.
The current state Democratic majority has chipped away at progress for workers, but it’s impossible to overstate how hard the pandemic has hit our working-class. This is a racial justice issue too; black and brown Virginians are more likely to work low-wage jobs, to face food insecurity, or to be evicted from their homes.
Lawmakers need to stop looking at empowering workers and creating a good business environment as mutually exclusive. When we take care of workers and allow everyone to participate in the economy, we help small businesses, we improve our quality of life, and we bridge divides in our communities.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal, and the success of our response has certainly changed since March 2020. Early on, communities “reopened” in ways that put essential and frontline workers in danger, and the lack of adequate federal stimulus forced states like Virginia to make impossible choices. Localities that chose to ignore the science put everyone in danger and showed disregard for the most vulnerable among us.
These are mistakes that would not have been allowed under my leadership. I would have had one approach for the entire Commonwealth instead of a scattered reopening approach. I would have handled the vaccination process by giving vaccines to areas based on risk, not just population.
Thankfully, after a tough winter for all of us, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The new administration in the White House has been a massive help to our efforts to get the vaccine distributed in the Commonwealth. In the coming months, we need to make it a priority that nobody is left behind by what will be a long recovery.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia, and how would you plan to address them?
The pandemic brought historic levels of unemployment to Virginia. Creating jobs that guarantee good pay and benefits will be vital to our recovery. Investing in the future of the green energy and infrastructure industries is one big way we can provide quality jobs to underserved communities and grow our economy. We also need to create permanent protections for workers so that another unforeseen event, like COVID-19, doesn’t create so much widespread economic pain.
A lack of affordable housing in Virginia was already a big issue before the pandemic, but now it’s much worse. The eviction crisis has hit communities hard and housing insecurity looms over many. We need to invest more money in our Housing Trust Fund so we can create affordable housing projects. We can also empower localities to build and rent out affordable social housing. Importantly, we need to pair these policy tools with changes in land use and zoning that allow for affordable housing to be built in areas where it’s needed most.
Pandemic preparedness seems like an obvious answer, but it’s still an important one. We were not ready for COVID-19, not by a mile, and a large part of that was a lack of preparation at all levels of government. We now know all too well the dangers of not anticipating a viral outbreak, and we need to be prepared for something to happen again in the future so we can stop the spread before it goes from an epidemic to a pandemic.