WOODBRIDGE, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Delegate Hala Ayala announced Tuesday that’s she running for lieutenant governor of Virginia.

“There’s a whirlwind happening, and in a Commonwealth as vast and diverse as ours, we can’t make progress or heal discord without bridging divides — between our communities and our leaders, between our ideals and our realities, and between our past and where we’re going,” said Ayala.

Justin Fairfax, who has said he’s exploring a run for governor in 2021, has held the position since being elected in 2018.

Ayala ran for Virginia’s 51st House District and won against a four-term Republican incumbent Rich Anderson in 2017.

“I’m running for Lieutenant Governor because I believe my life experiences enable me to be a bridge builder so we can move Virginia forward into a strong, just, and prosperous future. I think that’s what our families want — someone who understands their experiences and can bring people together to make progress in their day-to-day lives.” Ayala said.

Ayala was born and raised in Virginia and says her family struggled to make ends meet, living on “the knife’s edge.” She went from originally working at a gas station as a single mother with no health insurance to serving 20 years as cybersecurity specialist with the Department of Homeland Security.

She got her start in politics at the local level and served in the local Parent Teachers Association, and helped organized the Women’s March in Washington in 2017.

“Ayala’s campaign will focus on building a strong future for Virginia families, from ensuring the Commonwealth weathers the COVID pandemic and is ready for the next crisis with a healthcare system and an inclusive economy that works for every family, to investing in our communities and our infrastructure to support quality, high-paying jobs, to deploying technology to make our government better serve the people, to ensuring equity, justice, and opportunity regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation,” her campaign says.

Several legislators and advocacy leaders from across the state have already endorsed her.

“Our country and our Commonwealth face so much division and divisiveness, and we need leaders who understand that and are actively working to address it,” said Prince William County NAACP President Rev. Cozy Bailey. “Hala is the bridge builder who can bring together our communities and bring about real, lasting, and meaningful change.”

If Ayala wins, she would be the first woman and first woman of color to serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia. Her father is a El Salvadorian and North African immigrant and her mother is of Irish and Lebanese descent.

Click here to visit here campaign website.