Gun Violence

Parkland: This time it's different: Why I think this time we'll see substantive gun reform. 


I support the "Rebuild America's Schools Act" that's being championed by Congressman Bobby Scott. As an educator for 30 years, I recognize the importance of rebuilding the physical & digital infrastructure of our public schools. This is the type of legislation that I will vigorously fight for in Washington, D.C. 

The Trump/Devos agenda will be devastating to public education. The proposed cuts will jeopardize programs that provide an opportunity for working class and socioeconomically disadvantaged children to achieve success. We must prepare all students with 21st-century skills. We must also ensure that all educators have the resources and tools they need to get the job done. As a 30-year veteran teacher, I can tell you that educators witness the triumphs and failures of public policy as they play out in our classrooms every day.


The Affordable Care Act has brought healthcare to millions of Americans saving thousands of lives. I’ll fight hard to protect Obamacare while working to push the country towards a system providing universal coverage. Trumpcare threatens to kick 23 million Americans off their health insurance and decimate Medicaid. Scott Taylor already voted once to destroy our healthcare system and we can’t let him do it again. We must repeal and replace Scott Taylor!

A Fair Economy

Unlike Scott Taylor, I know that a strong economy is built from the bottom up, not from the top down. America deserves a raise! Low minimum wages not only hurt low-income workers and force taxpayers to subsidize large corporations, they hold down wages for the middle class as well. Until the minimum wage is raised to a living wage and pegged to inflation, middle-class wages will continue to stagnate. That is why I will #FightFor15 to pass a increase that will lift working Americans out of poverty. 

And the Trump Tax Scam isn't helping either. Those tax bill 'bonuses' are a distraction from the theft occurring as the middle class is getting robbed. We need a Representative who will fight for health care and paid family leave, not another pro-business faux-progressive. 

Rural Broadband

While 39% of rural Americans (including many on the Eastern Shore of Virginia) do not have access to broadband internet service, just 4% of urban Americans face that same challenge. The large digital divide between urban and rural communities must end. Broadband is essential to localities’ economic and workforce development and can provide those in rural communities access to educational and worker retraining opportunities such as online college courses. Additionally, rural patients -- who lack broadband access who very often have difficulty physically accessing the healthcare they need -- have a much harder time taking advantage of the increasing “telemedicine” opportunities that allow patients to confer and consult online with medical specialists in urban areas. Karen will work closely with local, state, and national officials to ensure that all of her constituents get access to high-speed internet.

National Security, Military, and Veteran Advocacy

National Security

Our country’s continued world leadership relies on a strong and balanced national security apparatus.  That apparatus is supported by our diplomatic, information, military, and economic national instruments of power.  America must clearly articulate our national security strategy to our citizens, allies, and adversaries.  We must provide national instruments of power to support the strategy that are balanced and in alignment with our values.  Our current administration has taken a READY, FIRE, AIM policy that leads with military aggression.  I will fight to authorize and fund smart power that intelligently coordinates all the instruments to act in concert to provide for our security and prosperity at home and across the globe.


We must have the strongest military the world has ever known and be prepared to fight on many fronts against 21st century threats.  We need to make a strong commitment to taking care of our troops, our vets, and our military families.  We need to ensure that our veterans have access to quality and timely health care, opportunities for education, and pathways to transition to the workforce after their service is over.  Those who serve our nation pay a personal price to defend our freedom and caring for our military families is a sacred responsibility.  When our troops are deployed, we have a duty to care for their families.  When they return from service, it is our duty to honor their sacrifice by keeping our commitments to them such as the GI Bill and the VA. I will fight for our military families and veterans.

America must continue to maintain a comparative military advantage.  That means transitioning from a 20th-century industrial age force to a 21st-century information age force.  Cyber security is a threat to our democracy and we must strengthen our defenses in this area. A military that quickly sets conditions for a political end, supported by a well-funded diplomatic corps to bring lasting peace is needed.  Most importantly, I take seriously the solemn requirement to debate and decide on the use of military force.  It is a duty that requires examining the impact on our military members, their families, and this country.     

Veteran Advocacy

Those who serve our nation pay a significant personal price to defend our freedoms.  I believe that caring for our veterans and their families is a sacred responsibility.  When our troops are deployed, we have a responsibility to care for their families. When they return from service it is our duty to honor their sacrifice by keeping our commitments to them such as the GI Bill, health services, and civilian work transition. As I have for 30 years, I will passionately serve our military community, families and veterans with the compassion, respect, and dignity they deserve.


The Trump budget proposes eliminating the Chesapeake Bay cleanup fund. The Bay is not just an ecological treasure, it is a trillion-dollar industry providing Virginia families with thousands of jobs and producing millions of dollars of revenue for the Commonwealth. Efforts to clean up the Bay have been immensely successful. However, President Trump’s and the EPA’s rollback put all that progress in jeopardy. Now, more than ever we need a strong advocate for environmental protection in Congress. As your representative, I vow to fight the Trump-Pruitt agenda and keep America moving towards a sustainable, clean energy future.

Climate change threatens our planet’s future and protecting our environment is crucial to our safety, health, and prosperity.  I oppose off-shore drilling and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Sea level rise is a threat to Hampton Roads and we need legislation to address long-term solutions to deal with all of the issues connected such as infrastructure repairs and flooding.  

Karen's stance against offshore drilling

Women's Reproductive Rights

Democrats believe that women's rights are human rights. I support reproductive and sexual health and rights, as well as, expanding the availability of affordable family planning information and contraceptive supplies and believe that safe abortion must be part of comprehensive maternal and women's health care.  

Civil Rights and Equal Justice

One of the foundational principles of America is equality.  As an educator for 30 years, I have worked diligently to even the playing field for all people.  I participated in the African American Male Summits organized by Virginia Beach Public Schools which was launched to commemorate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the demonstration of student leadership, community involvement, college-career readiness and relationship building. African American students are suspended and expelled 3 times the rate of Caucasian students and I have participated in training and professional development to enhance classroom management to help educators reduce this rate.  We must work to halt the school to prison pipeline and stop Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, in her attempts to return to zero tolerance disciplinary actions which will disproportionately impact African American children.  African American children are also four times more likely to witness gun violence, so we must also work to prevent gun violence. 

I support legislation to restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act and will work to expand early voting and access to the ballot box for all Virginians.

As an educator, I know that diversity and inclusion strengthen our communities.  I support DACA students and legislation that provides a clear path to citizenship.  As the wife of an immigrant, who recently became a citizen, I understand the importance the American Dream represents to so many and fully support family reunification.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People

Democrats believe that LGBT rights are human rights and I support the ability of all persons to live with dignity, security, and respect, regardless of who they are or who they love. Marriage equality may be the law of the land, but LGBTQ Americans still face challenges with equality in the workplace and I’ll fight for legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination.  

Showing 2 reactions

  • John Boddie
    commented 2018-01-14 11:14:28 -0500
    The following is from Politico on January 14, 2018

    The author, David M. Cutler, is the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University and holds secondary appointments at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Public Health.

    Americans spend $5,000 more per year on medical care than people in other rich countries, yet live shorter and less healthy lives. Most efforts devoted to addressing health involve the medical system: covering more people, changing the flow of dollars to providers, reducing administrative expenses and the like. But medical care is largely focused on helping people who are sick. What’s the best way to prevent them from getting sick in the first place?

    I have come to believe that the most cost-effective dollar in health is the one spent on education. There are good economic arguments to be made for a number of different types of nonhealth spending that will improve people’s health, such as cleaning up the environment or lowering the price of healthy food. But the effects of these policies go only so far. Subsidizing healthy food might help people’s weight, but can’t keep them from smoking, drinking, or overdosing on opioids. Education, by contrast, addresses the entire panoply of adverse health behaviors.

    Behavior is the key. When we compare geographic regions, the dominant factor driving health differences is how Americans behave. Unhealthy areas smoke more, drink more and eat to excess; healthier areas avoid these behaviors. Adverse health behaviors account for 40 percent of deaths in the United States. Reduce those deaths and the population can live much longer.

    By every metric measured, more educated people have healthier behaviors than less educated people. More educated people smoke less, weigh less, and are less likely to drink to excess. They wear seat belts more regularly, receive more preventive care, and take chronic care medications more faithfully. As a result, morbidity and mortality are lower for those with more education. And the relationship is strong: Every year of education adds to health. People with an associate’s degree are healthier than those who ended education at high school, and four-year college graduates are healthier still.

    Indeed, the benefits of education seem to spread even beyond the person with the education. Research suggests that living in an area with better educated people has spillovers for everyone. The share of an area’s population with a college degree is a better predictor of life expectancy for low-income people — very few of whom have any post-high school education — than the share of people in the area who are insured or the share who are religious.

    There is also good evidence that the relationship between education and health is causal, not just a coincidence. Interventions that increase the amount of education people receive also improve their health. Early in the 20th century, states increased the minimum age at which people could leave school, typically from 15 to 17. Cohorts required to stay in school longer had lower mortality than cohorts who were allowed to leave school younger.

    A century ago, staying in high school was the goal. Today, it’s achieving higher education. Still, the results hold into the modern era as well. Men who were eligible for education benefits under the Korean War GI bill experienced less depression in late life than men from similar socioeconomic backgrounds but who were not eligible for benefits. Men who enrolled in college to avoid being drafted in the Vietnam War realized significant health gains as a result. And women who grew up in areas where community colleges have opened have healthier babies than women who grew up in areas without community colleges, and than women in those same areas before the community colleges opened.

    At least part of the better health for the women growing up in areas with community colleges was behavioral: They smoked less and used more prenatal care.

    The issue is not just post-high school education. Pre-kindergarten education matters as well. Pre-K education is associated with increased detection of vision and hearing problems in low-income children, reduced rates of smoking and excessive alcohol intake as these children become adults, and improved mental health and overall health status into middle age. The evidence is overwhelming that education is the best prevention.

    All this means that at least part of the answer to improving Americans’ health in the future (and reining in the high costs of their health care) should be to invest more in education now.

    So, how could we spend education money most effectively to improve Americans’ health? Here are a few ideas.

    The federal government currently spends about $50 billion annually subsidizing higher education, through Pell Grants and tuition tax credits. Still, rates of post-secondary attendance remain low. Only one-third of high school students in a low socioeconomic status group will achieve any post-high school degree, compared with two-thirds of kids in a high socioeconomic status group. Controlling for other factors affecting academic performance diminishes these differences, but the remaining gap is still enormous. The bottom line is that too few high-ability students go on to post-secondary education. Investing in their education would pay off in the future in better health and lower health care costs, not just for them but also for their families and communities.

    A student learns to write at a pre-kindergarten class in Washington, D.C., top, and kindergarten students in Ashburn, Va., bottom, work on a classroom project. Research has linked early childhood education to better health, including lower rates of smoking and problem drinking in adulthood, improved mental health and better overall health into middle age.

    There are several ways to do this. One easy option would be to simplify the complex process involved in financial aid applications. The complexity of the current financial aid process discourages many needy students from applying for federal collegiate aid.

    Still, more support is needed to lower the cost of higher education. Higher education costs have soared while government aid has fallen. It is no wonder so many students have difficulty affording higher education. One could expand Pell Grants and tuition tax waivers to help meet this need, but expecting a haphazard program to reach ever-more students is difficult. At some point, it becomes easier to have a universal education program than an increasingly more complex means-tested one.

    In the 2016 presidential election, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders famously proposed making four-year public colleges free for people in families earning below $125,000 annually and community colleges free for everyone. Sanders drew most of the attention, but the proposal for at least some form of free higher education predates him. In 2015, President Barack Obama proposed making community colleges free for all students who maintained a minimum GPA. And Obama’s proposal was itself based on a program in Tennessee that fully covers tuition in the state’s community colleges for all Tennessee residents (and which has since expanded to Oregon and Minnesota). Sanders estimated that his proposal would cost $75 billion annually; Obama’s proposal would have cost $20 billion annually (including federal and state contributions).

    Estimates suggest that universal pre-K education would cost an additional $25 billion annually, though this could be pared by limiting eligibility to families below a certain income level.

    Let’s suppose the federal government decides to spend $40 billion annually on an expanded education program at the pre-K and post-secondary levels. In the scale of federal spending on education, the amount is large; it is close to a doubling of current levels. But by the scale of health interventions, it is small. Federal spending on Medicaid is over $200 billion annually, Medicare is more than $600 billion annually, and health programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs are another $70 billion. The budget of the National Institutes of Health is about $30 billion. The point is not that medical spending or NIH research should be cut to pay for education spending. The point is that by any standard we underinvest in the long-term drivers of population health.

    As we grapple with what comes next in health care, we ought to remember that the wisest health investments may be far removed from the delivery of medical services. When it comes to promoting good health, education is the best prevention.

    The importance of education reaches far beyond what happens in the classroom.
  • John Boddie
    commented 2018-01-08 12:58:07 -0500
    A lot of this is standard, recycled Democratic pablum.

    Why not come out with a few substantive policy ideas? Such as:

    a) If the US wants to retain its position of world leadership, we need to make a substantial investment in education. Leadership and security won’t be ensured by the number of ships and warheads we have; it will be ensured by how much creative and effective intelligence we can bring to bear on the problems, international and domestic, that face us.

    China has 1.4 billion people, India has about 1.2 billion and the US has about 334 million. It’s obvious that the world is becoming increasingly dependent on brainpower in both the military and economic arenas. With this in mind, the US needs to take steps to ensure that we maximize the potential of our citizens (not just our current students) to apply the brainpower available to us.

    Why not consider taking half of the funds planned for naval expansion and applying them to a re-purposed Department of Education, which will focus on tools and techniques for improving the effectiveness of learning?

    b) On healthcare, why not start by asking “What is the national interest in improving the health of our citizens?” and then prioritizing the programs (clean water, clean air, healthy food, safe medicines, control of epidemics) that address these interests. The ACA is a cobbled-together mess that addresses a medical response and payment system that is inefficient and in many cases, irrational. The Democratic Party needs to propose a program to replace it. The most promising of the program suggestions focus on universal primary care.

    c) Read the Issue item that you have regarding the military. Scott Taylor would have posted exactly the same thing. In our district, you won’t be successful by ceding this subject to your opponent. Why not point out that many of the steps that are being considered at present appear to be preparing to re-fight the Viet Nam war? What might be more effective is a joint-services Technical Academy that can provide both the pure mathematic research and ractical application of technology to deal with practical problems such as, “How can the US assist Lithuania if that nation is attacked with 50,000 anti-personnel drones?”

    Please keeep in mind that you are running to preserve our democracy, which is under attack by the republican congress. We know that Donal Trump will rubber-stamp anything congress sends him, and that Scott Taylor is providing the ink for that stamp.