VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Aaron Rouse (D) made his name first on the football field at First Colonial High, Virginia Tech and as a third-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2007.

However, he says his record in City Council and ties to the community make him the choice for state senate in the 7th District.

“People should elect me because I have a proven record,” he said in a recent interview with WAVY. Rouse says that the record of accomplishment includes pay rates for Virginia Beach city workers.

“Being able to have all our city workers – city staff, first responders, police officers, firefighters get an increase in their pay. Making sure that everyone has $15 an hour minimum wage,” Rouse said.

Rouse says he helped bring Something in the Water to Virginia Beach, the largest festival in the city’s history.

“I didn’t care about the political ramifications, or any kind of negative ramifications that would come from it. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, because I understood the benefits that Mr. (Virginia Beach native Pharrell) Williams could bring to our city, our region and our state,” Rouse explained.

Rouse, who was raised in Virginia Beach’s Friendship Village says he would continue to work for tax relief.

“I worked with the commissioner of revenue to cap personal property taxes just this past December, and worked to find tax relief for small businesses.”

The General Assembly begins its 2023 session the day after next week’s special election. Rouse says abortion will be the primary issue.

“Because we know that there have already been pre-filed bills to ban abortion in our Commonwealth, something that my opponent supports,” Rouse said about Kevin Adams (D), although Adams says he would allow for exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother.

“(We need to) make sure we safeguard women’s rights, because it’s not just about abortion. It’s about early breast cancer screening, my grandmother died from breast cancer at the early age of 49.”

Rouse says gun violence is the product of a constellation of societal issues that must be solved first.

“It comes down to making sure that there’s access to health care, to mental health providers, making sure that there’s not financial insecurities, food insecurities.”

The special election is set for Tuesday, January 10, with early voting in Virginia Beach and Norfolk until Saturday, January 7.