Qasim Rashid, a human rights attorney, is running for Virginia State Senator for the 28th District on a platform of equality, increased healthcare access, and prioritizing education. The district includes Stafford and a portion of Prince William County.
Republican Richard Stuart currently holds the seat.
Name: Qasim Rashid
Running for: Senator for the 28th District
Work: Human Rights Attorney
Education: University of Richmond Law
Community Involvement: Qasim Rashid has long been involved in the interfaith community to build bridges of dialogue and understanding between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and non-believers. He volunteers with his local Bar association through their community events, such as working in a local shelter to provide food for those in need. He is also an active volunteer with Humanity First USA.
Most recently Qasim’s youth org helped clean up the national parks during the government shutdown. He also launched the #LoveThyNeighborChallenge during the shutdown to encourage those who had means to buy food and groceries for those who did not. The challenge ended up reaching families across Virginia and across the nation.
Qasim is a board member of several non-profit organizations dedicated toward peace-building and combating economic inequality. He works with education nonprofits to improve education policy, close the achievement gap and secure funding for schools and resources for children from marginalized communities. He continues to provide pro bono support to women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as he has for the last decade.
Questions and Answers
PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?
Rashid: Passing the Equal Rights Amendment, passing increased healthcare access, and giving teachers the pay they deserve.
PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
Rashid: By working together with my colleagues in the Senate and the House, we will pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. To increase the accessibility to healthcare, I would advocate for Medicare for All with private options. I would also protect our Medicaid expansion recipients and fight for them against unconstitutional roadblocks that block their access.
With thanks to the House of Delegates, teachers pay was increased but we need to do more. I would work with my colleagues to increase their pay even more so that Virginia will not have to face any crisis of quality in our standards of teaching and teachers.
PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?
Rashid: As a State Senator I want to advocate for all of my district, not just a portion. To me this means a passing policy that gives access to quality and affordable healthcare, standards of quality and higher pay for teachers in all schools and passing laws that help bring internet access to all of my district.
PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?
Rashid: I am a human rights attorney who, after earning my law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law, has a long track record of serving diverse communities in Virginia. This includes work to combat domestic and sexual violence against women, uplift the incarcerated through prison chaplaincy, serve neighbors through blood drives and highway cleanups, and advocate for children’s education.
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government?
Rashid: The average citizen is the next Senator in the making. In my district, the 28th has not had the opportunities guaranteed to them from their public service for access. I have heard the frustration from all sides of the spectrum that they do not feel like their Senator, who has been in office since his 2008 election, has engaged with them.
It is time for the 28th Senate District to be represented by someone who will work with their constituents and not reap the benefits for personal gain. I will accomplish this through digital media, regular town halls, and an open door policy to make appointments with my constituents on a regular basis.
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
Rashid: I have certainly made personal mistakes as all people do, but fortunately I have not made public mistakes that harmed those around me. I have been fortunate throughout my life to have mentoring and guidance from incredible teachers at every stage of my development. As a Muslim immigrant, I recognize that I have had the eyeglass on my work in my public life, even being denied employment due to my faith. Often, people of color experience that they have to work harder and phrase their words tighter in order to be heard.
I have worked hard to build my platform on social media and mainstream media to serve as a conduit for marginalized voices. Through my roughly 400,000 followers, I have been able to listen to how different communities want their stories represented and, use my platform to elevate their voices, and for that opportunity, I am very grateful. It has affected me by teaching me empathy, patience, and conviction when working to undo injustice.
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
Rashid: A vote for Rashid for VA is a vote for representation. As Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley says, “Those who are closest to the pain should be closest to the power.” In my childhood, we lived in Section 8 housing and for many years of my adult life, we lived paycheck to paycheck — as 80% of Americans do today. I have worked extremely hard to get to a place where I can run for office, and the struggle I’ve experienced and continue to experience with crushing student loan debt is one that is all too common among middle class or lower income Virginians. I hear them because I have been in that struggle with them, that pain, for most of my life. I ask for their vote because I can speak to their experiences through first-hand knowledge, not through some survey or data sheet. I ask for their vote because I have been close to that pain and I believe I am best suited to elevate my neighbors to a place of power to alleviate that pain.
Our current Senator has voted against healthcare expansion, voted against common sense infrastructure development, voted against needed education reforms, voted against needed criminal justice reforms, voted against the Equal Rights Amendment. He has the power, but because he has not experienced the pain of many Americans, his votes reflect his personal views, not the needs of our fellow Virginians.
I was raised on the importance of service. My parents are teachers, my brother is a US Marine Veteran, and I am a human rights lawyer who lives to serve the marginalized. By being your public servant I want to hear about your needs so the legislation we pass proactively helps our district and relieves the pain.
Being a #TeamRashid member means having your voice heard and your priorities first. That is why I ask for your vote.