Virginia Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) wants to be a bridge between lawmakers and Virginians throughout the Commonwealth and offer a new perspective in state politics if her bid to become the next lieutenant governor is successful.
Ayala, 47, entered Virginia’s 2021 lieutenant gubernatorial election on July 14th, and was one of the first candidates to enter into the race that now features a dozen Democratic and Republican hopefuls.
“There is a whirlwind happening around us in the Commonwealth. It’s vast, it’s diverse and we can’t make progress or heal the discord without bridging divides,” Ayala said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “So, this means bridging divides between our communities and our leaders, between our ideals and realities, and between our past and where we’re going.
“I’m running because I believe that with my life experience it enables me to build those bridges so we can move our Commonwealth forward into a strong, just and prosperous future.”
The Northern Virginia Democrat said she thinks some political leaders can be disconnected from the day-to-day lives of the people they represent, and that Virginians from all regions of the state can relate to her own experiences.
“I’m someone who has had hardships in my lifetime and that translated into the policies that I brought forth to the table, and I want to continue that as lieutenant governor,” Ayala said. “I won’t stop being a champion for people or listening to them because I have their lived experiences, and I know their struggles and their pain. I want to be the individual that helps them bring these issues to the forefront as I’ve done as a legislator.”
Ayala, who described her leadership style as compassionate, told The Star a large factor in running for the Lt. Gov. position was seeing how many issues, like food security and the educational system, have been further exacerbated and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second term Delegate said her campaign platform will involve finding solutions for those aforementioned issues as well as rebuilding local economies, creating a more inclusive healthcare system, investing in communities and infrastructure and broadband access.
As the daughter of an El Salvadorian and North African immigrant father and an Irish and Lebanese mother, Ayala believes she is in touch with the current and growing diversity of the Commonwealth.
Ayala currently lives in Lake Ridge, Virginia, has two children and is a cybersecurity specialist for the Department of Homeland Security outside of her legislative duties.
She took office in 2018 and was a part of the Democratic wave that crashed into the House of Delegates two years ago. In 2019, Ayala defended her seat against former legislator Rich Anderson (R), now the Republican Party of Virginia chairman, for a second time and helped usher in a Democratic majority.
Other Democrats Joining vying for the party nomination are Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman, Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan, lobbyist Xavier Warren as well as former NAACP President Sean Perryman.
The Republican candidates are Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), former Delegate Tim Hugo, veteran Lance Allen and lobbyist Puneet Ahluwalia. Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman has been rumored to be entering the race.
“I hate to see injustice in the world,” Ayala said. “It’s just something that is gut wrenching for me and whatever I can do to improve the lives of every Virginian, that is what I’m going to do.”
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