Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, Terry McAuliffe, Addresses Issues Impacting Virginia’s Seniors
As the election for Virginia’s next governor gets underway with early voting this month, it is important for voters to understand what is at stake. Among the many important issues that the next governor will be responsible for are those affecting seniors, including mobile voting, nursing home staffing, elder fraud and abuse, and ageism. Below are highlights of where the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, stands on these critical concerns. (These statements are drawn from McAuliffe’s answers to a questionnaire sent earlier this year to the five primary candidates by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s (FCDC’s) 50+ Caucus.
Expanding Voting Rights and Accessibility in Virginia
Given the rise of voter suppression legislation in many states, McAuliffe stresses the importance of expanding voting rights and accessibility in Virginia. He promises to increase access to the ballot so that “every Virginian has a say in the decisions that impact their lives.” As governor, he would promote accessibility by increasing the number of early voting locations, expanding early voting hours, and incentivizing localities to provide free transportation for early voters. McAuliffe is particularly proud of his record of restoring voting rights to over 173,000 Virginians as the 72nd governor of Virginia.
Nursing Homes and Long-term Care Facilities
The coronavirus pandemic exposed the crisis in health care for Virginians in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. McAuliffe has noted the problems in the long-term care infrastructure, including the need to improve oversight of and protections for facility residents. To address the shortage of health care workers, he would explore options, such as developing partnerships with community colleges to provide free training. He would also push for higher wages for such personnel. Additionally, to ease the burden on facilities, he would work to increase support for older adults who wish to age in place by expanding access to in-home care options and providing better wages and training for those workers.
Related to the issue of aging in place is the problem posed by property taxes. Too many older Virginians are unable to age in place because of the burden of property taxes that rise along with the value of their homes. McAuliffe supports efforts to ensure that aging residents are able to stay in their neighborhoods and not be priced out of their homes because they can no longer afford the property taxes. He would “work with stakeholders and Democrats in the legislature to provide local governments with the flexibility they need to leverage their tax codes in support of older adults.”
Elder Fraud and Abuse
Older adults are often targeted by professional scammers who prey on their vulnerabilities and economic challenges. The health concerns, fears, and isolation created by COVID-19 have increased the opportunities for fraud and the risks of elder victimizations. McAuliffe notes that Virginia’s General Assembly recently passed laws to increase interagency coordination against financial exploitation and to empower Adult Protective Services to seek emergency protective orders to assist seniors. As governor, he would also push for increased training for prosecutors and law enforcement to enable them to better combat financial fraud crimes against elders. He also sees a need for state agencies and community organizations to raise awareness and educate the public about these predatory activities. McAuliffe indicates he would explore the possibility of developing some type of registry of WHAT? to protect older Virginians.
McAuliffe recognizes that, as a society, we are faced with a culture of ageism which includes prejudice, negative stereotyping, and employment discrimination against older Americans. He pledges to “work with relevant state agencies and stakeholders to launch an anti-discrimination campaign and develop recommendations on how to better combat ageism.”This would put Virginia at the forefront of the movement to get states to acknowledge and combat ageism.
As this summary of his positions shows, Terry McAuliffe – our former and (with your help) future governor – understands the myriad challenges 50+ Virginians face as well as the need for government to help mitigate those challenges. He is committed to giving these issues the attention and substantive action they deserve.