Women, health care focus of local Democratic Party’s picnic

Anne Holton, a former secretary of education for Virginia and the wife of Sen. Tim Kaine, speaks at Saturday's Democratic Party picnic in Edinburg on Saturday. Max Lee/Daily

EDINBURG — Women and health care stood center stage at a Democratic Party picnic in the Edinburg Town Park on Saturday.

About 200 people attended the event, which featured speeches from Jennifer Lewis, who is running for Virginia’s 6th District, and Anne Holton, a former secretary of education for Virginia and the wife of Sen. Tim Kaine.

During her speech, Holton brought up the number of women who are running as Democratic candidates for the U.S. House this fall.

“Tim is very, very proud to be at the top of a ticket that includes all these amazing, amazing women running in contested districts all across the state,” Holton said.

This year, more women have filed as U.S. House of Representatives candidates than in any year in history, according to research out of Rutgers University.

Other portions of the event similarly focused on women, both regarding women’s issues and of getting women to run for office as Democratic candidates in Shenandoah County.

Sara Garland, the chair of the board of Emerge Virginia and a Woodstock resident, spoke about the efforts that group has taken to train women to run for office and lamented that she has not yet been successful at recruiting a candidate in Shenandoah County.

And at a tent outside a pavilion, where the rest of the event occurred, a group of people asked for support in their quest to have Virginia ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Lewis praised that effort and expressed support for adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

“In my first job out of college, I worked in a domestic violence safe house, and I was a trained rape crisis counselor,” Lewis said. “So when I get to Washington, I will be a fierce defender for our women’s rights and equality.”

Lewis and Holton also pointed toward health care as a top issue as Democrats aim to gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

Lewis argued in favor of “Medicare for all,” which would expand the Medicare program to young, able-bodied individuals who are not eligible for the program. A mental health worker, Lewis also argued including fully funding mental health services as part of this plan.

“There are services that aren’t covered by Medicaid, and most of my clients are on Medicaid,” Lewis said after the event. “So we need to make sure that we’re having those reforms.”

Lewis said that the government could pay for the costs by shifting its spending priorities.

“We have enough money in this country to make sure that everybody has health care, everybody has education, has a roof over their head and food in their stomachs,” Lewis said. “It’s just our priorities.”

Lewis pointed toward closing corporate tax loopholes and repealing or decreasing tax cuts that Congress passed in 2017 reducing corporate and personal tax rates as some of the ways to pay for Medicare for all.