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Blue America Is Proud To Endorse Branden Riley In Virginia

The biggest share of voters in Virginia’s redrawn HD-82 south of Richmond live in Petersburg City, although the district also includes voters from Dinwiddie, Prince George and Surry counties. It’s a narrowly minority majority district that leans strongly blue, although the incumbent holdover from the former district is a conservative white Republican, Kim Taylor. She’s unlikely to be reelected in the new district but Youngkin did beat McAuliffe. (Youngkin, though, is the only Republican to have won under those boundaries and Hillary thrashed Trump 55.5% to 41.6%.

Right now there are 3 Democratic contenders for the party nomination— two establishment candidates, Kimberly Adams and Victor McKenzie, and one real deal progressive, Branden Riley, who was endorsed by Blue America this week. Like many young candidates Blue America has gotten behind, Branden became involved in Democratic politics because of Bernie. I asked him to introduce himself by talking about the issue that motivates him most.

Clean Water = Life

What got me actively involved in the Democratic Party was being a Bernie Delegate in the 2016 election.

Before that I began learning more about the legislature and the political process and got more actively involved in building coalitions and supporting movements.

I’ve registered voters, worked as an actual poll worker (inside), a poll volunteer (outside), a precinct captain, a data director, a field organizer, a finance director, and a campaign manager.

My parents were both Army and as a “military brat,” I’ve lived on three coasts and in each time zone in the continental USA and overseas in Europe.

Having traveled extensively as a youth, and moved to many places, I’ve developed a global outlook on life. The exposure to various cultures and regions inspired me to live more naturally. I saw firsthand how food and water security; clean food and clean water, are so important for a healthy and happy life.

Coming from a working family, my focus is on working families. My grandparents on both sides were sharecroppers in Mississippi before they were forced to leave their land during the 1950’s and 60’s. Growing crops is in my blood. Urban farming has been a passion of mine for years, working in low income, low access, food deserts.

While working in the EPA Office of Ground and Drinking Water I advocated on issues concerning crop run-off. As an urban farmer who grows healthy produce to feed the community, the direction big pharma is pushing us towards; a synthetic society, is one I don’t agree with.

The argument is that we don’t have enough food to feed everyone so we must grow with pesticides and fertilizers. If that’s the case, then why do we throw away half of the food produced? Food waste is a huge concern to me and those in my district.

We could have a greener economy that produces healthy food that will ultimately reduce our dependence on manufactured medicines and improve the quality of life for many Americans.

Why aren’t we there? Money. Money in Politics. Corporations are taking in government subsidies to create profits. Those profits are used in lobbying and paying off politicians to create legislation that creates more profits for the lobbying corporations. Somehow, they’ve fabricated their own version of a green economy.

“I think we all know that to a lobbyist a green economy is about how much cash is being produced.”

That just doesn’t help. The food sector is protected, to a degree, from the benefits of free enterprise and prevents families from making better decisions about how they spend their resources. They deserve food security and water security; these are the basics of a comfortable life.

It’s time to grow our economy and the wages that support it. Time to reduce monopolies by investing in infrastructure and creating room for competition.

The people in District 82 need to hear and feel the hope that there are other likeminded people who support the policies. As a society, we can move towards unity and inspiration and away from isolation and polarization.

That’s the message I’m bringing.

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