Winsome Sears’ journey from her original homeland in Jamaica to pursue her version of the American Dream has led her to run for the office of lieutenant governor of Virginia in this year’s election.
Sears has worn many hats throughout that time starting out as an electrician in the U.S. Marine Corps, working at a women’s shelter, and working at the state level as a delegate for Virginia’s 90th district becoming the first black, female, immigrant Republican to be elected to that position. Sears believes that those experiences will guide her should she be elected as lieutenant governor.
“In many ways, my life experiences have uniquely prepared me to serve the full fabric of our state as I uniquely relate and identify with so many Virginians,” said Sears.
Because of this, Sears wants to guarantee the opportunity for Virginians that they can pursue their version of the American Dream.
“I believe strongly in the power of the American Dream, and I want to ensure all Virginians have fair and equal access to it by creating an environment for better-paying jobs and cutting costs for families,” she said.
According to Sears, one of those key elements for being able to chase that dream is education which is a subject that Sears knows well having served as vice president of the Virginia State Board of Education. Sears wants to focus a great deal of effort towards improving the education system for Virginians. She cites the damage in the learning loss of students as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, she also advocates for innovation and high teacher pay as part of her goals of improving the state schools.
“Our students have fallen behind because of extended school closings and lower school standards. We will empower parents and restore excellence by keeping our schools open and safe during a regular weekly schedule. We will continue to keep standards high and support our students with their resources to achieve them,” said Sears. “Teachers need to be paid a higher wage, and the facilities and resources required to teach our children will be upgraded and supplied. Innovation is necessary, and I would advocate for a significant investment in all of our educational institutions.”
It’s a focus similar to that of her opponent Democratic candidate Hala Ayala who on her website calls schools the building blocks of the future. Also having worked as a delegate in the 51st district, Ayala touts her achievements in this area such as increased budgets for special education and getting teachers in Virginia a 2 percent pay raise.
Ayala would look to expand Governor Ralph Northam’s G3 plan that offers two years of free community college for students who train in high-demand professions. Sears looks at her running mate Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and his Day One plan as the answer to the issues facing Virginia’s education woes.
Youngkin’s plan also includes raising teacher pay and investment in special education as well as restoring expectations in getting students ready for colleges and careers.
“What is not appealing about our next Governor’s Day One Plan,” asked Sears. “Cutting costs for Virginians, keeping our communities safe, reinvigorating job growth, restoring excellence in education, and making government work for the people instead of politicians, are the changes we need to see in Virginia.”
Sears also remarked on the necessity to hit the ground running on these goals to not only revive Virginia’s education system but other issues made worse by the state’s response to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, our recovery from the pandemic ranks in the bottom 10 among states. Our students are behind in school, violent crime has risen to 20-year highs, and much of our government is broken,” said Sears. “As a result, people are voting with their feet and leaving the Commonwealth. All aspects of this plan will need to be implemented to turn Virginia around and headed in the right direction. “
As a business owner, Sears also looks at the state of economic affairs in Virginia as something that should be tackled as well. She addresses issues such as the rising cost of living for the middle class and tax increases on businesses that according to her have stifled economic growth and prosperity in the state.
“All of Virginia, not just the Northern corridor, deserves to be economically competitive,” said Sears. Unfortunately, Virginia has lost Fortune 500 companies and college-graduate and military retiree talent to other states under this current administration. This should not be, especially when the southern portion of our state has the nation’s best and most natural deep-water port.”
Ayala on the other hand, according to her website, wants to focus on protections for workers and wants to introduce a bill to mandate hazard pay for essential workers to help with the rebuilding of the local economy due to the pandemic.
“As a mother, community servant, former vice president of the Virginia State Board of Education, and business owner, I also understand the economic challenges that many Virginians are experiencing,” said Sears. “My life has afforded me the ability to understand the needs of our children and the pressures felt by everyday Virginians who are doing their best to provide and prepare their families for a hopeful future. “
Sears and Ayala will run against each other for the office of lieutenant governor during the general election November 2.