Elizabeth Guzman, a member of AFSCME Virginia Local 3001, is on a personal mission, one that pits this 10-year public service worker against an incumbent state legislator who supports an extremist agenda that hurts people like her.
Guzman is running to become a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 31st District, which covers portions of Prince William County and Fauquier County in Northern Virginia.
This is a contest of competing ideologies that will affect not only the district Guzman seeks to represent, but the entire state.
The 31st District is an area steeped in Civil War history, but today there are other battles to be fought: raising the minimum wage, fighting for women’s rights, protecting public services, expanding affordable health care and much more.
Guzman, a division chief for the city of Alexandria’s Department of Community & Human Services, won her primary race in June in what was her first campaign for public office. If the mother of four wins the general election this November, she would make history as the first Latina elected to the Virginia General Assembly.
“I want to stand up for the thousands of people across my district and millions more across my state who feel like their diversity is not represented in Richmond,” Guzman said on her campaign website.
She’s running against eight-term incumbent state Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican whose voting record is clearly hostile to working people.
He voted for a bill preventing cities from raising the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour; supported a measure to reduce retirement benefits for state employees; and voted for a bill requiring photo identification before casting a ballot – a tactic used by right-wing lawmakers to reduce voter turnout among minorities, women and the elderly.
Guzman’s worker-friendly positions include:
- Raising the minimum wage
- Attracting a greater number of higher-paying jobs
- Restoring funding for public schools
- Increasing the number of counselors and/or licensed social workers in schools
- Creating new programs and adequately funding existing efforts to help veterans
- Pushing the General Assembly to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion so more low-income Virginians have access to affordable health care.
Though the race is a David versus Goliath contest, Guzman’s story is one of beating tall odds. She came to America from Peru as a single mom, seeking a better future for her oldest daughter, according to Guzman’s online biography. She had to work three jobs just to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
Guzman eventually enrolled at a community college and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. Today, she provides adult-focused services to her community.