When I decided to run for office in 2017, it was because I felt deeply in my bones that Norfolk deserved a leader that could represent the diversity of the 89th District – I’m so proud that our district has young and old, Black and white, gay and straight, wealthy and working class, and everything and everyone in between. We’ve been going full steam since I first announced my candidacy in February 2017.
Since then, I’ve campaigned actively across Virginia as Democrats took the majority in the General Assembly two years ago so we could usher in historic and long overdue policy changes in 2020, tackled reckonings with race and our conception of ourselves as a society after horrible injustices, ran in a statewide primary for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, and went through another grueling election cycle advocating across the state for the values and ideals that I wholeheartedly believe in.
We put a lot of miles on the car, spent a lot of time on the phone and on Zoom, gained more than a few additional gray hairs on my head, and met thousands and thousands of wonderful Virginians of all stripes from Lee County to the Eastern Shore.
Along the way, I got married to my incredible wife Mavis. Words cannot express how much I owe her for her love, grace, mercy, strength, and understanding as I spent countless hours away from our home in Norfolk. Politics became a full-time job for me over the last four years as a member of the General Assembly; you try to be all things to all people, especially your constituents, and it can take its toll on other parts of your world. My wife and family braved those challenges together.
In addition to my family, I owe enormous debts of gratitude to the countless people who have given their heart and soul to furthering our efforts. Because of you, we were able to build an incredible campaign that allowed us to raise record sums of money and bring together the many wings of the Democratic Party and the many corners of the Commonwealth. You all know who you are and I’m eternally grateful for your enduring support, encouragement, and friendship.
When I announced our campaign for Attorney General, I told you all that decision was generations in the making. My family descends from slaves, my grandfather was one of the first Black lawyers in Virginia, and my father was one of the first to attend an all-white school in Norfolk. The work we do has always been as much about the next generation as our own. But that mission now takes on a new meaning as my wife and I gear up for a new frontier: we’re expecting a baby this summer and we couldn’t be more excited. Being parents is something that we have long wanted and we’re so thrilled that our dream is on its way to becoming reality.
As most parents can attest, bringing a child into this world is a massive time commitment and every second with your family and child is worth its weight in gold. I’m 32, a practicing attorney, and have given everything that I have in my soul to serving Norfolk and the Commonwealth since 2017. But my new job-to-be is as a father, and I’m ready to make that the highest priority in my life.
To that end, I wanted you all to know that I’ll be stepping away from the House of Delegates at the end of this year. I want to put my family first and be the best dad and the most supportive and present husband that I can possibly be. Serving in the House has been the experience of a lifetime – I have forged relationships that I will cherish forever. I’ve long talked about our capacity to rise to meet the moment in front of us and I know in my heart that this is the right decision for me at this point in time.
Although my circumstances will be different, I’m not leaving public service. We have a lot of work to do in Virginia to make this the Commonwealth I know that it can be. Listening to each other, meeting people where they are and understanding their challenges, and finding solutions that bring this state into the 21st century remain as pressing issues as ever and I’m committed to being a part of that.
Meet Our Moment, the initiative I started to train candidates of color and women for state and local offices, is off to a great start. We just held our first training last weekend and a dozen Virginians – half of whom are women and all of whom are Virginians of color – got a full day of intense programming that will serve them well in future runs. We’re already gearing up to train a new cohort in Charlottesville in the spring.
This effort is real and meaningful and just one of the many ways in which I’ll be able to contribute to our politics over the next few years. As I look eagerly upon state elections under new lines in 2023 and federal races in 2024, I’ll be training candidates, raising and contributing money, and doing anything and everything I can to help Democrats in Virginia.
Believe me when I tell you that the movement and energy we created in 2021 and continue to build upon is just getting started. My commitment to helping those who have been marginalized, left out, and left behind remains stronger than ever and I maintain that our justice system is the best way to effect the changes we’d like to see.
Let me be clear, our work is not done and I intend to serve the people of Virginia for years to come. And that work may well mean a run for Attorney General in 2025.
I hope you know that I so appreciate you all and your love and support. God bless you all and this amazing Commonwealth.
See you soon.