Lothe, a civil rights attorney, is running in the Democratic primary for the 12th District.
Veena Lothe is one of a number of Indian Americans running for the state legislature. The Democrat is a well-known civil rights attorney in the greater Richmond community, where she has lived and served for the last two decades.
Lothe is running in the Democratic primary on June 11 for Virginia’s 12th District. The values of service and giving back are ingrained in her, thanks to her parents and the upbringing she had in West Virginia.
Lothe empathizes with those who are underserved and under-represented because of her work with labor and immigrants. She relates to the needs of the immigrant community coming from an immigrant family herself. She caught up with Venky Raghavendra, Contributing Editor of American Bazaar, during one of her “meet and greet” sessions at a supporter’s home in Glen Allen, Virginia.
As you gear up for the primaries in the Democratic Party for the 12th District, what kind of response are you seeing from the communities and individuals you are interacting with?
Our campaign is knocking doors, calling voters, and holding events across the 12th, and voters are fired up about our campaign. We have done a lot of outreach to the Indian American population in the 12th. At our events with the Indian American community, they are enthusiastic about making history and electing me to the State Senate.
What are the biggest issues that people are concerned about and what solutions do you have to offer?
People are concerned about education, healthcare, and the economy. I plan to work to raise teacher pay, reform Certificate of Public Need, and work with local businesses to incentivize growth in our community.
You are an attorney by education and have rich experience as a civil-rights and immigration lawyer. How does that help you relate to the issues of the community you want to represent?
I have now worked as an attorney for over half of my life, and I have worked hundreds of different cases, where I have protected victims of gun violence, inequality, and labor malpractice. I know that some laws sound good, and some laws do good. When I go to the General Assembly, I want to go word by word through each law to ensure we are passing legislation that will enact positive change in our community.
There is increasing diversity in the Senate District 12. What are your thoughts on that and how are you positioned to embrace diversity and promote this in the district?
Our district is increasingly becoming more diverse, and it is time for our representatives to reflect that diversity. When elected, I will be the first Indian American in the General Assembly. That will open doors for others in our community that they too can run for office because their government looks like they do.
Growing income inequalities are both global and local phenomena. How is this playing out in the district you are contesting the primary? How does this matter to the future of the district and the region?
Our district is extremely economically diverse, and we are hearing from people throughout the district that they are concerned by the eroding social safety net. On the state level, we need to make sure that we strengthen our education system by raising teacher pay since it is a long-term investment. We need to continue to look for avenues to expand healthcare access, and we need to work with businesses to ensure that all are guaranteed a living wage.
How do you see your profile, values and personal journey as being different and better suited than others in the primary and the election race?
I come from an immigrant family like many people in our district. My parents taught me the importance of fiscal responsibility, hard work, and accountability from a young age. I am different from my primary opponent because I want to run to bring those values to the General Assembly. We are releasing policy proposals ranging from gun violence prevention to protect choice, so that voters know what I will bring to the General Assembly.
Indian American realtor Subba Rao Kolla to run for Virigina state assembly (February 1, 2017)