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Election 2020 and the 1st Congressional District: A Q&A with Qasim Rashid

Election 2020 and the 1st Congressional District: A Q&A with Qasim Rashid

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Part of the challenge of serving in Congress is finding consensus amid a diverse set of 435 districts. What issues do you think are most necessary to fight for in your district?

On top of the health and economic effects of the coronavirus crisis, folks in Virginia are struggling with quality of life. We need access to quality health care, access to high-speed broadband internet. We need to address increasing income inequality, fix the lack of a living wage and ensure truly equal protection under the law. We also must take emergency action to address the existential threat of climate change.

These three issues all are interrelated, but if we tackle broadband, then everything else gets easier to fix. If you have money and you live in the right place, you have high-speed internet. You might even be able to work from home or see your health care provider via video chat. But many working people don’t have the access to these opportunities.

Broadband is foundational to economic opportunity in the 21st century.

COVID-19 has accelerated challenges for families across the commonwealth. How would you grade Congress’ work in helping Americans get through the pandemic? Identify some successes and failures.

Congress took some steps in the right direction, such as extending unemployment benefits, but then those benefits were allowed to expire too early. That’s sort of a microcosm for how this whole thing has gone. Congress hasn’t done enough for small businesses, particularly in the service industry.

Additionally, Congress has yet to get serious about closing the digital divide, which would, among its many benefits, make an easier task of finding remote employment. In short, Congress can do a lot better for working families struggling to get through this crisis.

With two-year terms and never-ending campaign cycles, members of the Virginia delegation are fortunate to be based near Washington, D.C. How would you budget time spent in D.C. versus home?

Members of the Virginia delegation certainly are fortunate! Since the 1st District is within driving distance to Washington, I’d be able to come home to my family every night. I have young kids and spending time with them means everything to me. This proximity to D.C. also means I can spend more time in the district talking to voters about their concerns.

I’m proud of my campaign’s commitment to accessibility and I plan to continue to stay extremely connected to this district when elected. That is a key difference between my opponent and me.

Whoever wins in November would drive back and forth to D.C., but because I spent more time listening to folks in the 1st District than my opponent does, I believe I can best advocate for their needs in Washington.

How will you vote for the proposed constitutional amendment about redistricting — “yes” or “no” — and why?

I stand with Del. Josh Cole, D-Stafford, and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in Richmond. This would not be in my purview when holding federal office, but here’s the way I analyze the situation.

Everybody wants reform on this issue. Everybody believes that voters should choose their elected officials, and that elected officials should not have the power to choose their voters. However, the gerrymandering amendment as it currently exists is insufficient.

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