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Delegate Hala Ayala Receives Virginia Chamber OF Commerce Endorsement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2018
CONTACT: Betsy Cramsey, 703-233-7248

DELEGATE HALA S. AYALA RECEIVES Virginia Chamber of Commerce “Free Enterprise Award” for Work to Improve Virginia’s Economic Competitiveness

 RICHMOND, Va.—On May 15, 2018; Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced the recipients of the “Free Enterprise Award” which recognizes legislators for their support of pro-business policies during the 2018 legislative session. In years past, the list recognized veteran legislators from across the commonwealth on both sides of the isle.  But this year, it was a pleasant surprise to see freshman legislators Delegate Hala S. Ayala recognized.

“Last year’s election clearly showed that voters are looking for a new generation of leaders that are focused on supporting pro job creation policies that help our Virginia economy thrive,” said Delegate Hala Ayala who represents the 51st House District.  “I am humbled to have the Chamber recognized my work and support of Workforce and Education polices that will empower our healthy economy and job creation.”

In the upcoming 2019 legislative session, Delegate Ayala will be working to create education and workforce policy solutions.

To learn more about Delegate Hala S. Ayala, please visit: www.ayalafordelegate.com

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2018 Virginia Chamber of Commerce Press Release

Va. Legislature to welcome a dozen new women

 

“The title wave of Democrats who won in Virginia’s November election take office tomorrow, and they include a dozen women.   And the biggest change for Virginia’s General Assembly is coming from Prince William County.  There are eight delegates who represent Prince William County.

Half of them, all Republicans, lost in November to women Democrats.”

 

Read more…

Sisters Who SOAR: Hala Ayala, a Mom and Conscientious Advocate By Ramunda LarkYoung

This column is a series created by entrepreneur and community leader Ramunda Lark Young and is poised to connect you to extraordinary women of color in Prince William County who’ve surpassed obstacles and rose to great success.

“I am thrilled to introduce my audience to Ms. Hala Ayala.  Hala worked for the government as a Cyber Security Specialist for the Department of Homeland Security with close to 17 years of experience. She is the mother of two and an avid community advocate who founded the Prince William County Chapter of the National Organization for Women (PWC NOW).  Her commitment to service and community are evident through her various leadership roles.  She was elected Vice President at the state level of Virginia National Organization for Women (VANOW), and in Prince William County she serves on several community boards, including the Literacy Foundation of America Prince William County. Hala is a graduate of both Emerge Virginia and the Virginia Progressive Leadership Project.  In 2015, she was honored to be appointed by Governor McAuliffe to the Virginia Council on Women.  Additionally, in 2015, she was appointed Vice Chair of the Occoquan Democratic Committee and recently also served as Fundraising Chair.”    Read more …

In this year’s ‘pink wave,’ women are helping other women run for office -ABC News

Amid the sea of signs and rose-colored hats at the New Jersey Women’s March in Morristown, Mikie Sherrill, there with her daughter, is one of the latest women to throw her hat into the political ring.

She’s a Democrat running for New Jersey’s 11th District Congressional seat.

“Right now we are taking on a fight for the very soul of this country,” Sherrill told ABC News. “We’re taking on a fight to protect our values to protect what we think America stands for and we can do this together.”

Read more and watch the video…

Virginia House Democrats stand for workers’ rights

“Delegate Hala Ayala spoke on Delegate Krizek’s bill that would repeal the prohibition on state agencies from entering into Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) with multiple organizations working on the same project. Delegate Ayala stressed that “Project Labor Agreements are good for business and good for workers. PLAs create career paths for women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented populations.”

Read more….

Washington Post – In a changing Virginia suburb, a slate of diverse Democrats hopes to show path back to power

Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — Hala Ayala, a Democrat vying to represent Prince William County in the state legislature, heard the usual gripes when she approached Susan Frederick outside the voter’s tidy suburban townhouse: low teacher pay, congested commutes to federal jobs.

Then their chat turned intense.

Frederick, a 38-year-old naturalized citizen from the Caribbean, choked up as she recounted an officer’s demanding to see her paperwork during a routine traffic stop. Ayala also began to cry, recalling how she had to teach her son, who is black, how to interact safely with police.

They hugged.

“It’s nice to have someone who shares our background so they understand people who they are speaking for,” said Frederick, who is upset by President Trump’s handling of immigration.

Across the country, strategists are watching to see whether Democrats can convert voter disapproval with Trump into victory at the ballot box. The first clues may come in November in Prince William County, just the kind of fast-growing, suburban swing district prized by candidates from both parties.

In recent election cycles, Prince William has shifted from mostly white, rural and reliably Republican to diverse, developed and swingy — an example of a changing Virginia. The county voted for George W. Bush twice, then swung to Barack Obama, voting for him twice, and Hillary Clinton last year. It voted for Republican Robert F. McDonnell for governor in 2009, then swung to Terry McAuliffe four years later.

This election, a diverse Democratic slate is hoping to take advantage of those demographic and political shifts to challenge longtime, white male GOP incumbents in state legislative districts carried by Hillary Clinton last November.

Read more here. 

Inside NOVA – Ayala doubles down in support of ACA

Alex Koma, Inside NOVA

For Democrat Hala Ayala, Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act don’t just make her angry — they break her heart.

In her bid to unseat Del. Rich Anderson, R-51st District, she has often spoken about her time relying on Medicaid. Now the renewed push in Congress to roll back former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law has her urging lawmakers to listen to the stories of people who rely on the program.

Though she’s now in a position to run for political office in Prince William, Ayala vividly remembers being 24-years-old, working at a gas station along Old Bridge Road, when she discovered her unborn son was facing serious health problems. Her baby was facing “life-threatening” breathing problems, not to mention diabetes and acid reflux disease, but she didn’t have any health insurance through her job.

“Thank God we were covered under Medicaid,” Ayala said in a Sept. 19 interview. “Otherwise, he might not be here today.”

Accordingly, the very thought of GOP efforts to roll back the expansion of the Medicaid program under the ACA chokes her up. The latest Republican healthcare bill — championed by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — would end the expansion by 2020, and while there’s no guarantee it will become law, Ayala is troubled all the same.

“It makes me sad, because it saved my son’s life,” Ayala said, between tears. “These are services and options and opportunities for people to live and thrive in our community and be healthy. And they’re able to live in our communities and be civically engaged or watch their child walk across the stage when they graduate. It’s a humanitarian impact. We’re going to do whatever it takes in Virginia to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

But Ayala is primarily focused on what sort of difference she can make in Richmond. Virginia is one of dozens of states with Republican legislatures that have declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA, something she’d love to change if she makes it to the General Assembly.

Former Congressman Tom Perriello is doing his best to help Ayala on that front. Though his bid for the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial primary wasn’t successful, he’s since launched “Win Virginia,” a political action committee dedicated to helping Democratic House candidates like Ayala flip Republican seats.

“This is the first election where legislators are going to be held accountable for screwing over their neighbors,” Perriello said. “These are legislators that talk nice, but vote mean. They seem moderate when they show up at the Little League game, but, in fact, have been going to Richmond and pursuing a truly radical agenda that has hurt the middle class and the working poor in Virginia.”

Perriello and Ayala charge that Anderson certainly fits that bill. He’s repeatedly voted against Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s pushes to expand Medicaid, denying insurance access to as many as 12,000 people in Prince William alone.

“Where I live in Prince William County, my story is not an isolated incident,” Ayala said.

Anderson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Republican leaders in the House have frequently argued that expanding Medicaid would be unaffordable for Virginia taxpayers. In a 2014 floor speech, Anderson himself charged that federal funding for the expansion is “likely unsustainable.”

“This redistributionist arithmetic doesn’t add up,” Anderson said. “It’s premised on other’s people’s money, money borrowed from foreign shores…It’s crucial we be sound keepers of the public purse.”

But Ayala argues the state is losing $73 million each year by refusing the expansion — under the ACA, the federal government would initially pay the entire cost of expanding coverage, then gradually shift 10 percent of the expense to the state.

Republicans also argue that the state should tread carefully on the issue, with so much uncertainty surrounding the ACA as Congress continues to mull its repeal. Yet Perriello is optimistic that the healthcare law will survive this latest push — Senate Republicans only have until Sept. 30 to pass a bill strictly along party lines, and Democrats seem unlikely to compromise on any rollback of the ACA — and he hopes another failure of repeal in Congress will convince Richmond Republicans to change their minds.

“Most of them, privately, know Medicaid expansion makes sense,” Perriello said. “Many of them say they want to get to ‘Yes,’ so maybe the survival of the ACA this week gives them the chance to make that excuse.”

Yet Perriello also believes that there’s no surer way to ensure an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia than fighting for the election of Democrats like Ayala this November.

“Republican leaders have had eight years to step out and show a little bit of moral courage of putting their communities ahead of a fear of primary, and they haven’t done it,” Perriello said. “A lot voters in places like Prince William who would normally only show up for presidential elections are realizing how much local elections matter.”

Originally published in Inside NOVA. 

The Guardian US – Year of the woman: the Democrats inspired by Trump to run for office

Lauren Gambino, The Guardian US

Like so many women, she marched and now she’s running.

Hala Ayala has been active in Democratic politics for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until after she helped organize a contingent of Virginia women of the Women’s March on Washington that she saw her name on the ballot.

“We woke up the next day and I don’t even know if this is clinically correct but we had political depression,” she said. “But then I went to the march and the experience, marching with these women, it really energized me and inspired me to take the next step.”

For years, Ayala has worked to promote women in politics and civic life. She revived her county chapter of the National Organization for Women and serves on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Council on Women.

As a single mother of two, one of whom was born with a serious medical condition, Ayala relied on welfare and Medicaid for support. At one point, she worked as a cashier at the local gas station before enrolling in a training program that put her on a path to a career in cyber security.

Ayala recently left her job as a cyber security specialist with the Department of Homeland Security to join a record number of women to seek a seat in the Virginia legislature. The decision was not without risks and she said she still occasionally wonders if it was the right decision for her family.

“There is a lot of sacrifices that we make to run for office and those are not taken lightly,” she said.

So far this risk has been rewarding. In June, Ayala won her primary. She is now among 31 Democratic women running for currently Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Originally published in the The Guardian US. 

ELLE.com – How Hala Ayala Is Running for the Virginia House of Delegates after Charlottesville

As told to Mattie Kahn, originally published on ELLE.com

Hala Ayala is a candidate to represent the 51st District in the Virginia House of Delegates in the upcoming election. A single mom, Ayala decided to leave behind a 17-year career in cyber security to run for office. She’s the founder and current president of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women and serves on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Council on Women. In January, Ayala helped coordinate Virginia’s Women’s March on Washington.

Growing up, I wanted to be a ballerina, and I wanted to be a dancer. Then I wanted to be on TV. At one time, I wanted to be a lawyer, always defending people who couldn’t defend themselves. But I didn’t have one set of dreams. There were many. It wasn’t until I was raising my child on my own and I started a job training program that I really was set me up on this path. My son had serious medical conditions, and I was on welfare and Medicaid. The program that I was enrolled in taught me how to do my resume and gave me some other skill sets that I just didn’t have. After that, I did some security work and then transitioned into cyber security.

Raising my son, I joined the local PTO and was elected president. I wanted to become a better advocate. I was volunteering more, too, working on campaigns and getting active in the community. I think the more you know, the better you do. I started to hear input and started to have experiences; and all of a sudden I was awakened to some of the challenges my community was having.

Over time, you start to find a passion — you start to wonder: What’s wrong? What’s going on? You start to do some research. You reach out to organizations. You look for answers. I realized we needed to do better by supporting women; they are the infrastructure of our communities; they are the nurturers who bring people together. They needed need help.

After the election in November, I was in a political depression. I was scared and I was sad, but I wanted to channel that into something positive. Once I heard that the Women’s March was happening, I knew I wanted to be involved. And to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women — we were just able to come together and kind of recalibrate ourselves, do what we needed to do to organize our thoughts and our energies and figure out the next steps. But we have to continue to take action. We have to make change. We can’t let that be the end of the road.

Eventually, another woman of color, a Latina woman, said we need to continue to not only uplift our mothers, but our mothers of diverse backgrounds. She reached out to me, and now I’m one of two Latina women running for the House of Delegates here in Prince William County. I also have Lebanese, Irish, and North African roots, and my kids are African America, so we have a really diverse family. To me, we are what Virginia looks like.

But even now, I think sometimes, “Is this worth it? Am I making a mistake?” And even when we won the primary with 66 percent of the vote, every precinct we won — it threw me back a little bit. I was shocked at the outcome and the voices that came to the polls to vote for me. With a race, there’s so much you don’t know; you just have to jump in.

I have two children who are African-American, so [President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville] has no place in my worlds, in my community, and in this nation. This is not who we are. I have to fight to find the words to even react, to articulate, because there is fear that underlines the emotions. It’s just very disturbing and disheartening, and it’s emotional.

Believe me, I’m a woman of color; It’s hard to speak up. It’s hard to stand up for yourself. But we need people who are elected into office and in positions of authority who can do that. I had a conversation with a voter this week, and he said, “I don’t know how you can remain calm in this horrific incident.”

I said, “Please understand that I get what you’re saying, but my kids don’t get to remain calm if they’re pulled over for the color of their skin. My ancestors who marched and rallied and screamed at the top of their lungs for some of the injustices in the world are not here.” It’s not simple. But I think we have to be honest with ourselves and be able to be open and allow people to have honest conversations, to have people feel able to come to the table and talk about a collective solution. And it starts with our leaders and our organizations and activists. We all need to move forward for the sake of our families and communities. We have a history of bad behavior in this nation. We need to find a better solution.

As published in ELLE.com

WUSA – Record number of women run for office in Virginia

Peggy Fox, WUSA

Video found HERE

WOODBRIDGE – It’s been six months after the largest national protest in United States history. The Women’s March made big promises. Now, in Virginia, it turns out lots of women are keeping those promises and running for office.

During the primary, 51 women—a record number—ran for seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates. Two years ago, 26 women ran.

“It was a battle cry. Like we must do more. We have to move forward,” said Hala Ayala, Democratic candidate for House of Delegates District 51.

The election of Donald Trump convinced her to run. She won her primary and now is one of 10 women challenging Republican incumbents. Democrats need 17 seats to take control of the legislature.

“When Trump was telling us who he was on the campaign trail… I believed (him). I believe you are going to deport immigrants. I believe that you are going to discriminate against people that look like me,” said Ayala.

Ayala, a single mother of two, is of Lebanese and Hispanic descent. She quit her job as a cyber security specialist for Homeland Security to run for office.

“It was a hard decision,” but she told herself that she was going to “get off the sidelines.”

Her top three issues are job growth, educational opportunities, and health care. Ayala got emotional discussing how she had to get on Medicaid to help her son, which allowed her to keep her house.

“Medicaid saved my son’s life. I was able to get the things that he needed, the services and medication. You don’t feel proud to be on Medicaid, you feel grateful. You feel that there’s something out there that will help you get a foot up, that you will have an opportunity,” said Ayala, who is angry state lawmakers have not expanded Medicaid.

“It’s a humanitarian thing. It’s an attack on humanity. I could’ve lost my son. And there were times that I thought I would have. I was very lucky,” she said.

The election is November 7th.

As originally reported by WUSA

Paid for and authorized by Ayala for Delegate