To the Editor:
Crime! That's why I voting for Jerry Kilgore.
I am Black foreign-born female who immigrated from the Caribbean to this country in 1988 and now lives in Fairfax County. When I moved to Virginia, I instantly fell in love with the state. Compared to a number of other states in the Union, the Commonwealth is safe, beautiful, educated and conservative.
Unfortunately, the Commonwealth is changing in character due to what appears to be a rising crime rate. The instances of murder, vandalism and assaults have seemed to increased proportionally with the ever growing presence of gang activity.
Until recently, crime and gang activity were just vague ideas and concepts I read about in a newspaper, even when a young man was slashed with a machete at a movie theater that use to attend. To say the least, I no longer attend that theater. Today, I am even uncomfortable attending certain shopping malls near my home due to reported attacks in parking lots.
Like most Virginians, I didn't have a reason to take a public stand against the slow but steady erosion of our community due to crime. I blindly and naively assumed that all would get better ... probably by the sole application of the power of positive thinking.
However, during the weekend of Oct. 1, 2005, my rose- colored glasses were forcefully removed when a close relative's car was stolen less than 30 yards from in front of my front door (and I live in a "safe" community). Quite frankly, this grand theft auto was the next step in a growing problem. The same car had been broken into in January 2005 and the newly installed radio was stolen.
While I am thankful that no one was hurt, I am ashamed that I was denying the obvious. The obvious is that there are no "safe" neighborhoods anymore, that Virginians need tough law enforcement and that Virginians need to vote for a governor who recognizes these truths.
Given my race, gender and immigrant status, the so-called experts would assume that I would simply vote a party line. After all, I must be a Democrat and must vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
But crime and safe neighborhoods are not race or gender issues. They are issues that we are all concerned about. Issues that affect the raising of or children, our property values and our peace of mind. These are issues that call from a close examination of the candidates.
Come Nov. 8, I am casting a vote to re-take my neighborhood. In my opinion, Jerry Kilgore is the only candidate who offers us a plan to help us retake our neighborhoods. His public safety plan is designed to stem and prevent the rising crime rate. The plan appears to offer second chances where warranted and due process when rehabilitation is not a possibility.
His record shows that as when he was attorney general, he worked to create tougher anti-gang laws and to increase sentences for those convicted of gang related activities. He also promoted educating the public about the threat of gangs by expanding a K-12 educational program called "Class Action" and through a statewide partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Virginia to prevent our children from ever joining gangs in the first place.
As a gubernatorial candidate, he is for a plan called TARGET, a gang relief program. The TARGET program is designed to allow a first-time offender gang member convicted of certain non-violent felony offenses or misdemeanors the opportunity to obtain a suspended judgment as long as they successfully complete an intense, six month "gang relief program." This intensive rehabilitation program will include educational, vocational, psychological, social services and life skills components for offenders who are motivated to reform.
He will also champion prohibiting offenders from associating with gang members as a condition of a suspended sentence or probation and making the murder of a witness of a crime a capital murder offense.
His plan for public safety also calls for expanding he offenses that qualify as gang crimes to include all felonies; prohibiting offenders from associating with gang members as a condition of a suspended sentence or probation; expanding the definition of capital murder to include those committed as part of a gang-related activity; making the murder of a witness of a crime a capital murder offense; eliminating the "Trigger Man" requirement for capital punishment; and collaborating with the federal government on the enforcement of our immigration laws.
In addition, Jerry Kilgore is the only candidate that has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
While education and transportation are also going to influence our vote on Nov. 8, Virginians can not turn a blind eye to the pervasive nature of crime and gangs in our communities.
Volunteer for the Kilgore campaign
submitted via e-mail