Virginia Governor Youngkin signs 11 executive actions, honoring promises to Latino constituency
Shortly after being sworn in, the Commonwealth’s new governor signed nine executive orders and two executive directives
January 18, 2022 6:02pm
Updated: January 18, 2022 6:02pm
Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin signed 11 executive actions after being sworn into office on Saturday — tackling issues ranging from education reform to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Youngkin’s November 2021 upset over ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in a state President Biden won by 10 points in 2020, marked a significant Republican comeback that is now raising questions about the upcoming national mid-term elections later this year and pointing towards the issues that Americans care most about.
This is of note as the governor’s victory was achieved, thanks in large part, to the Latino vote. A VoteCast survey reported by both the AP and The Wall Street Journal suggested that Latinos favored the Republican candidate by more than 10 points.
As Henry Olsen, an elections analyst and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., noted in November, “Youngkin cut into Democratic margins among Asians and Latinos and some suburban whites while getting Trump-level support among rural Virginians. That combination was enough for victory.”
Shortly after being sworn in, the Commonwealth’s new governor signed nine executive orders and two executive directives in what he called “important steps” in order to launch “the work of restoring excellence in education, making our communities safer, opening Virginia for business and reinvigorating job growth, and making government work for the people, and not the other way around."
The first executive order signed by Youngkin prohibits the teaching of critical race theory — a concept developed by Marxist scholars to examine the ongoing effects of racism in American schools and institutions.
"Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms," Youngkin said, adding that "inherently divisive concepts, like critical race theory and its progeny, instruct students to only view life through the lens of race and presumes that some students are consciously or unconsciously racist, sexist, or oppressive, and that other students are victims."
The teaching of critical race theory became a key issue in the Virginia governor’s race and at least half of the states have, in recent months, moved to restrict the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.
Shortly after the Virginia election, Gabriela DeMola, a Hispanic-American voter from Northern Virginia, told ADN America that she voted for Youngkin because of his educational and economic promises, while also signaling that many Latinos are sensitive to far-left policies because they trigger sensitivities that remind many immigrants of the regimes they fled.
“Under Democratic representation, we have seen a huge, dramatic shift in how kids are taught in the classrooms,” DeMola said. “Instead of a responsive classroom, kids have been fed very biased propaganda that has only limited their self-esteem and advancement.”
DeMola’s sentiments echo the one-third of Virginians who cited the economy as the most important issue facing the Commonwealth.
“We are hard workers. We don’t need a handout, just an equal playing field. In my circles of Hispanics, we are all Republicans. We fought hard to escape exactly the government-controlled system that threatens our society today,” she added.
Youngkin also took unilateral action to remove school mask mandates across Virginia, noting that parents with children in public schools "may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child's school or educational program."
"A child whose parent has elected that he or she is not subject to a mask mandate should not be required to wear a mask under any policy implemented by a teacher, school, school district, the Department of Education, or any other state authority," the governor’s order continued.
Youngkin also issued executive actions rescinding a vaccine mandate for state employees and terminating the Virginia Parole Board.
But Libre Initiative Coalitions Director Michael Monrroy believes that Youngkin’s focus on issues such as the economy and educational reform could help transform the Latino community into an important constituency for the GOP.
“I think perhaps Washington has focused too heavily on left-leaning policy priorities and needs to come back to the center, focusing on the kitchen-table issues that can really transform the lives of Latino families,” Monrroy told ADN America. “These families have been hurting during the pandemic and want economic relief along with a better future for their children.”
“As long as the Latino community holds Governor Youngkin accountable — and is given a seat at the table — I think it will be very competitive moving forward,” he added.