By Rhonda Seltz
Seltz is the Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates for the 7th District seat that covers Floyd County, and parts of Montgomery and Pulaski counties.
I love our community. That is the main reason I am running for the 7th District House of Delegates. I was raised in Pulaski County, as were my working-class parents. For the past two decades I have helped thousands gain access to health care through Virginia’s FAMIS programs, the federal marketplace and other critical safety nets. Serving on multiple task forces and working committees have allowed me to join forces with other advocates fighting for stronger healthcare policies, livable wages, affordable quality childcare and pre-school education.
I care about this community and have helped empower others with resources to help lift them out of poverty. When resources were not available, I have acted, by bringing the right stake holders to the table and facilitated solutions to increase resources through grant writing and creative problem- solving efforts through strong community partnerships.
By recognizing the many strengths of Southwest Virginia and looking at challenges as opportunities for our area, I know that as a legislator, I can bring more private dollars into our region. We are fortunate to have two universities and a community college in the New River Valley. By investing in numerous grant writers in higher education, we can better connect faculty research, hands-on student learning experiences with community needs for a skilled, healthy employee work force, higher wages, improved K-12 education and services for those needing specialized medical, mental health, addiction and oral health care. We are leaving millions of dollars on the table simply because faculty do not have the time to write grants and to connect with the community. I can be the one to make this connection and investment a reality.
I have been present in the community. I have been a strong partner with the Virginia Employment Commission and Workforce Development Centers and understand the needs of employers and employees. I have taken many tours of factories and job sites and have met with hundreds of unemployed and under employed. It has been a relief to finally, as of Jan. 1, to be able to offer low-income adults, many who are working low-wage jobs, information on expanded Medicaid so they can access the critical medical, prescription, mental health and addiction treatment they deserve. For the five years prior to the expansion of Medicaid, I have had to tell so many in Southwest Virginia that they were too poor to receive help in the federal marketplace but not poor enough or did not meet a required category to receive help through Medicaid, even though they had worked most of their lives. I have internalized their pain and suffering which has motivated me to fight even harder.
We cannot wait on major healthcare policy changes at the federal level. One thing I want to do as your delegate, is to improve health care by building a state-based market place exchange. Other states that have replaced the federal exchange with a state-based exchange have been able to decrease the prices of private insurance policies by up to 22% and have been able to offer consumers more choices for insurance plans. If other states can do this, Virginia certainly can do this as well. Although not a fix-all, by seeking federal waivers, a state-based exchange should allow those who do not have access to affordable employer plans more affordable options. This again, is something that is feasible and cost-effective that I can facilitate as your delegate.
Although I am an underdog in this race and my opponent has outspent me by a significant margin, I still believe I can win. I can win, not for me, but for you; regardless of your political affiliation. This campaign is not about politics for me; it is about fighting for a better New River Valley and a better Virginia. It is not about who has the most money or the biggest signs; it is about doing the right thing for the common good. I have had your back for the last 20 years and I will have your back as your delegate. For more information, check out my website at Seltz4Delegate.com and please vote Nov. 5.