Danica Roem Would Rather Talk Issues than Identity Politics

| November 2, 2017 | 0 Comments | News

Photo courtesy of Danica Roem.

When historic Prince William Candidate for Virginia State Delegate Democrat Danica Roem, 33, hits the campaign trail in the 13th District, she often rings people’s doorbells and asks them what they think of the traffic in Gainesville, Manassas and Manassas Park.

Although the first transgender candidate to run for a state legislature, she does not want to make gender politics the focus of her campaign, but she cannot seem to escape it.

Bristow Beat followed Danica Roem one Saturday, following up with her via phone calls and emails.

With only a few days before the election, the wonky, knowledgeable former Gainesville Times reporter, wants everyone to know her plan to widen 28 and other issues important to her. However, with election several days away, she has received more partisan criticism, including attacks on her gender identity.

Roem believes her opponent, Republican Del. Bob Marshall, who has held the position for 26 years, did not take her candidacy seriously in the beginning. Since she has received national attention and an influx of campaign funds, he has begun to pushback hard.

Roem recently received literature Marshall sent out entitled “Danica: In His Own Words.” She resents that her opponent won’t give her the courtesy of referring to her as a woman and also takes issue with how her quotes were presented.

She did tell a conservative radio host that discussing a classmate who is transgender can be done appropriately at almost any age, but she said she never advocated for it to be taught in elementary schools or mandate it.*

“This is what happens when he can’t defeat me the core quality-of-life issues facing the people of the 13th District,” Roem said in response to his campaign literature.

Marshall and Roem are nearly polar opposites. Marshall’s brand of Christian conservatism is well known throughout the state. He created the Virginia constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage that stood until the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality. He also connected children born with disabilities could be the result of their mothers’ having previous abortions.

Last year, he tried to pass a bathroom bill similar to what was proposed in North Carolina. In June, he spoke along with a group of like-minded citizens against LGBTQ people being added to Prince William County Schools non-discrimination policy, claiming it would open the door for boys to come into girls’ bathrooms.

Roem also takes issue with the fact that Marshall supported President Trump in his election bid, asking Christians to forgive Trump for his misdeeds because Hillary Clinton might enact a “radical homosexual and transgender agenda in schools.”

Marshall is lauded for his actions by his loyal supporters who support his Christian family-values approach to legislation. There are also those who appreciate his stance to protect defends property rights and that he has called for burying of the Haymarket power towers. Roem, who exposed Amazon as the company behind the power lines, is very popular with liberal Democrats. Both are trying to reach through to pragmatic moderates to win the election.

Click here for more information on Marshall’s stances on the issues, including immigration and second amendment rights.

Roem’s most well known message that has broad appeal is her cry to improve Route 28. Having grown up in Manassas, she experienced traffic congestion before she was even able to drive. She watched as the county grew and other road improvements were prioritized. As s a reporter for the Gainesville Times, she learned how transportation legislation gets passed.

Her opponent says is not the job of the state delegate to make road improvements and said he made suggestions to the Board of County Supervisors, and taken other steps throughout the year to enact changes to the road.

“Little to no asphalt is needed. Homes and businesses will not be condemned. The existing median could be reversed with overhead lane signals,” said Marshall’s webpage.

However, Roem asserts it is the job of the delegate to advocate for roads and to use his influence to enact changes. She notes Marshall had 26 years in which to do that and has not gotten the job done.

Roem believes she can make that kind of change happen. The state is saving money on widening I-66 via public-private partnership. Though she strongly disagrees with the partnership, she believes the money it saved Virginia can benefit Manassas commuters.

And she offers a detailed plan on how to improve the road, which includes widening it from four to six lanes, and have almost all traffic lights replaced with overpasses. Her plan does not involve taking land from homes or businesses. She and she has suggestions for improving the road in Fairfax County as well.

“I don’t support widening it in Yorkshire because it would require condemning businesses all along the strip,” Roem said.

Roem said Marshall should be “working closely with the NVTA [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority], CTB [Commonweatlh Transportation Board] and the General Assembly to fund the $44.7 million proposed interchange at New Braddock Road and Route 28.”

In addition to her plan for 28, Roem supports legislation popular progressive initiatives, which she believes will benefit everyone.

She proposes allowing illegal or undocumented immigrants to receive drivers licenses, believing it will make the roads safer for all drivers. However, obtaining a driver’s license should not grant citizenship or voting, said Roem. She looks to Delaware where limited driver’s licenses grant driving privileges only.

She also advocates for Virginia moderately raising its minimum wage, but not so much to create a “shock to the system.” She doubts many realize that West Virginia has a higher minimum wage than Virginia: $8.75 verse $7.

She laments Virginia’s gas tax did not rise in accordance with lower gas prices. She claims the current system is a loss for Virginia transportation revenue. And, she says she prefers taxing to tolling to finance most transportation needs, and opposes public-private roads that can hinder the state’s ability to mitigate traffic.

She is also an advocate for increasing teacher pay, reducing overcrowding in schools and generally supporting public education, and said she wants to bring jobs and businesses into the area.

She also does not care to alienate Republicans. Roem cringed when a fellow Democrat and former challenger to Del. Marshall, Atif Qarni called the Republican party “rotten to the core,” saying she has many Republicans in her own family, and she hopes to represent all residents of the 13th district.

The best complement she may have received was when State Senator Jeremy Pike (D) explained she was always a tough and thorough journalist, and he was always nervous to take her call. There would be no learning curve for Danica Roem, he said.

However, her identity continues to be an issue. Del. Marshall refused to call her “she” and Chairman Corey Stewart of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors told a group of bikers that she is an affront to their way of life. Alleging that Roem wants to teach kindergarteners about being transgender, Stewart said: “Folks, this is what’s coming. This is the war on our culture. It is the war on our values.”

Roem worries about how such messages affect LTBGQ kids.

“The reality is LGBTQ families are as much a part of Virginia’s culture as anyone else and we all deserve inclusive representation in government, no matter what we look like, where we come from, how we worship or who we love,” said Roem.

Roem has had a rough time with her gender identity before her own transition. She admits to over drinking in her twenties when as Dan Roem she was a heavy metal guitarist for “Cab Ride Home.”

Then, there is the question of campaign finances. Being the first transgender candidate has attracted much attention, and with that, has come some out of state money propelling her campaign. Roem said she has always been upfront about her campaign finances, which includes funds from the Human Rights Campaign and Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Marshall has also accepted funds from outside Virginia, including from groups opposed to LGBTQ equality, such as same-sex marriage. He’s received funding from the American Principles Project and its chairman Sean Fieler; and Public Advocate of the Unites States, Inc., which the Southern Poverty Law Center identified as a hate group.

Roem expected people to be skeptical of a trans candidate; however, she believes her message is getting through. When she knocks on doors she continues to talk about traffic, education, jobs, bread and butter issues for residents of the 13th district.

The election is Nov. 7.

 

*This article had been updated Nov. 3 at 9 a.m.  

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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