VOTE YOURSELF A RAISE!
Meet Flo Ketner
Flourette “Flo” Ketner is your Democratic candidate for the 19th District of the Virginia Senate. The 19th District includes all of Salem City and Floyd and parts of Bedford, Carroll, Franklin, Montgomery, Roanoke, and Wythe Counties. Flo has lived in the New River Valley for over 30 years and graduated from Floyd County High School. She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Radford University. She lives in Christiansburg with her husband and three young children and serves on the board of the new non-profit organization Cayambis Institute Of Latin American Studies in Music as the Treasurer.
Flo’s many concerns for the community come from shopping at the same stores, driving the same roads, and experiencing the same ups and downs as the rest of us. These concerns for others started early in her life, while being raised in poverty by her disabled grandmother after her mother lost her battle with drug abuse. Flo knows how important it is for all of our citizens to have secure housing, food on the table, and help when we need it, because this community is her heart and her home.
Flo is determined that the people of the New River Valley have more than a strong voice in Richmond but a strong presence so Virginia’s rural communities have the same opportunities for advancement as the more urban areas of the state. She is a strong advocate for better roads, last mile broadband connectivity, and easier access to quality healthcare. She will stand up to corporate special interests such as the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which continues to desecrate our properties and endanger our citizens. She will be a powerful voice in addressing the epidemic of opioid and drug addiction, and join with fellow legislators to bring economic prosperity to Virginia’s citizens.
Flo On The Issues
Flo is running because she believes rural Virginia is the largest portion of Virginia and it deserves to be taken seriously and its needs addressed. Northern and lower Eastern Virginia can't carry the state nor host the entirety of the population. It is time that Virginia's mountains and valleys are heard AND their needs addressed.
Flo supports policies that will enable small business creation in our communities, enhancing our local economy and tax base. Healthcare, and infrastructure jobs will bring in new revenue and new workers to help support our small business economy.
Protecting our natural resources is essential, and as our workforce in the fossil fuel industry diminishes, we must shift to a new job market with the installation, operation, and maintenance of renewable energies.
We must create new job markets and provide better employment opportunities for our children who wish to work with technology.
We need to support our workers! Workers deserve appropriate healthcare coverage, breaks during the work day/night, overtime and holiday pay, paid leave for personal and family sick leave, vacation pay, and time off for getting to the polls on election days (including primaries and special elections). She does not support right to work and believes this only creates an unhealthy dynamic between employers and employees in unionized industries.
We need to ensure the minimum wage begins at $10 an hour with an automatic inflation trigger. After, the wage standards should be set by needs per area. She proposes a moderate adjustment that will ensure that families aren't choosing between food or rent which is way too common in the area while not damaging the fragile economy by stressing the budgets of small businesses. Our overall pay-scale is based on the minimum wage. What one person feels is making more is primarily relative to the lowest pay. Raising the pay will raise the understanding of what amounts are appropriate pay for all jobs.
Flo believes that teachers (and instructional aides) deserve significantly better pay and benefits and our schools need and deserve more teachers.
For college loans, we need to have an interest threshold that limits how much interest a school loan can generate. Upon graduation, we have to survive on our own with our new jobs. If we spend the majority of our income simply to cover our necessities, that leaves less to put towards paying off our loans in the early stages. Interest rates are so high that many are only able to pay interest for the first few years, leaving them with higher, long-term debt.
Flo believes our teachers and students deserve better funded, more stable, and safer schools, and that these benefit our community as a whole. Schools are one of our largest employers in many areas, especially rural Virginia. Securing their stability ensures the student body is getting a quality education, which attracts new families to move to the area, which will advance the schools’ ability to function and advance.
Flo doesn’t support funding through the voucher system. Our local public schools are kept running by the taxes of the communities and dividing money among charter schools and public schools diminishes the capabilities of our public schools and can lead to economically segregated communities.
We need more, better quality school buildings. So many are unable to support the number of students and faculty who use the building and/or are in desperate need of repairs. Schools with black mold exist in Virginia and that is a life-threatening risk we can’t afford to take. Students are being crammed into classes that can barely hold enough desks and teachers are struggling to connect with them all. Communities are growing and the schools are finding themselves adding temporary structures or foregoing needed repairs to the already existing buildings and instead adding new construction to offset the population growth. We are also overloading our classrooms and the teachers who are here to help our children grow.
Higher education can set the stage for the rest of our lives. We need to ensure trade schools, developmental programs, and advancement programs for those already in the workforce are available to everyone, including funding support to ensure we are educating individuals who are working to advance themselves in their careers. All options should be affordable and readily made available. Providing accessible and financially affordable/free education leads us to a stronger economy by creating a stronger workforce.
Flo believes trade and vocational schools, developmental programs, and advancement programs for those already in the workforce are necessities. We need to advance our technology training programs. These should include on-the-job apprenticeship programs and incentives for employers to cover advanced education and training.
Our public schools should be safe havens and our parents deserve to know that their children are safe in school. She thinks we need to look into better protections within the physical structure of the school buildings. Bullying is a problem to address immediately. She would like to explore options more thoroughly because this is not an easily solved issue, but one she can identify with as a parent of young children.
We believe in the science our medical community has been based on. We believe in the science that predicts our weather when we watch the news each day. Science research on climate change is no different.
We must reduce our fossil fuel consumption and begin new ways of preserving our lands while providing cleaner, sustainable, and cheaper options such as solar and wind energy.
Protecting our mountains, rivers, farms, and forests are essential to our lives and the future of our homes. Rural Virginia survives on the revenue generated by a protected environment. We have endangered species for both flora and fauna, and altering the current environmental stability can cause long-term drastic effects.
We need to enact legislation that requires strictly enforced permits for crossing all waterways, including streams. This should include long term damage protections and stronger laws to protect our endangered species. Eminent domain is for public utilities only and needs to be readdressed to protect the owners as well.
Flo stands against the pipeline. It is fiscally irresponsible for the commonwealth since after two years, ecological damage liability is on the Commonwealth. our mountains are slate and shift over time and are subject to earthquakes. This makes it an extremely dangerous endeavor and we need to be vigilant to avoid destroying our water sources and the ecology of Virginia.
We should be recycling as much or our waste as possible. A major issue with our recycling options is the difficulty in finding a resource that will accept and process various types of waste. This is only becoming worse and Flo will work to find new options.
Flo does not support repealing the second amendment. She doesn’t think that means we must have access to all types of guns.
We should not have assault weapons or weapons utilizing high-capacity rounds. Military grade weaponry belong to the military and not the public and should be treated the same way.
We need strong universal background checks and deeper checks on those with suspicious activity in their past, including arrests that did not end in a conviction. Flo agrees that we need legislation requiring that person to person firearms transfers go through a federal firearms licensee.
Waiting periods should be maintained without exception, even if they are delayed in the system. There is too much room for error when executing a sale before the waiting period has ended and verification obtained.
Arming teachers puts everyone in school buildings at risk. Teachers are not always fully trained and are employees in a high-stress environment. Potential attackers can be crafty and attempt to disarm the teacher or understand how the teacher operates if they are trying to cause violence. Many teachers would not have enough time to respond to a mass shooter or violent trespasser before they are incapacitated.
Flo believes past gerrymandering practices have carved up our towns and institutions and dis-empowered ordinary people. She has supported the creation of an independent redistricting commission to remedy this problem and put fairness back into our elections.
We need automatic voter registration when a person turns 18, receives or updates a license, or is granted citizenship.
People deserve discretion between them and their doctors. It is not up to the government to govern the bodies of any individual. The health needs of any person regardless of age, color, creed, sexual identification, or marital status should be between them and their physicians.
Being female or male is not a privilege but a fact. The government does not get to regulate our medical decisions. The gender we identify is our medical decision to make and should be respected.
Our rural communities have minimal options for healthcare services nearby. She supports policies that enable current medical facilities to remain in our area and new ones to open. We need incentives or subsidies to encourage medical facilities to employ specialists to make routine rotations through their facility to ensure access to everyone across all districts.
In Southwest Virginia, affordable, high-quality healthcare is often out of reach due to a lack of jobs, as well as the large number of people on fixed incomes or disability. She supported expansions and wants to ensure that additional costs such as dental and vision are covered.
Mental health services, including a wider range of free services are necessary. We need to break the stigma of a mental health diagnosis as being the end of someone's career. We need to make our community less afraid to seek needed support and educate the community to be less afraid when someone does.
To combat the opioid and substance abuse crisis, a start would be legalizing medical marijuana to ensure we have fewer people being introduced to opioids to begin with. This epidemic leads people to the criminal drug element. This criminal element keeps people hooked on drugs, and that extends to the introduction of illegal drugs to friends and families of those suffering from the illness of addiction. Substance abuse continues to be a growing, destructive force. We need to study and employ tactics now.
Prescription drugs should be affordable and not at a cost that leaves anyone without what they need. High costs are unsustainable and prevent people from working to afford their necessary medical care.
Flo has become increasingly aware that the situation of elders who need some assistance but are not eligible for skilled nursing and caregivers is very challenging. Flo will work to find the best avenues to address it.
We need to ensure our family and community members who live with physical and mental disabilities are appropriately taken care of. This includes proper wage rates for caregivers and assistants, access to necessary healthcare both at home and in medical facilities, access to group homes and reinforcement for independent living.
Flo believes medical marijuana is beneficial to those who qualify. It reduces the use of opioids and reduces the number of people addicted to them. This also eases the suffering many experience with common long-term illnesses and those with a terminal diagnosis.
Flo believes marijuana should be decriminalized and legalized. We will severely reduce the addiction rate, criminal element, and prison population. The farm industry would especially benefit from this, boosting our economy and local revenue streams.
Flo believes we should give incentives for local governments to provide avenues for investors to build affordable housing in key areas close to jobs and medical care. These should be pricing comparable to local economic standards and include space for singles up to small families.
We need to open the restrictions for how someone is identified as homeless. Currently, you have to have been homeless for a minimum amount of time, and being a guest who is couch surfing does not constitute being homeless, which affects the ability to qualify for help or services. This is also disproportionate for those in our LGBTQ community who often find themselves displaced with nowhere to go.
HUMAN RIGHTS / EQUALITY
Flo will sponsor, co-sponsor, and vote for the Equality Act. She feels strongly that it needs to be passed immediately.
LGBTQ+ members of our community should not be discriminated against in any way. This should be solidified into law that includes punishment and/or penalties for violating these equal rights.
Flo’s grandmother is disabled and had to work in order to support them both. She had to fight to find a job. She believes that we should ensure no discrimination against someone who can do a job, regardless of disability.
We need to take measures to end the school-to-prison pipeline by decriminalizing many minor violations and reducing sentencing on minor violations. We should not suspend licenses for the inability to pay fines or fees. Our prison system should not be private by any means. People in prisons should not be used as cheap or free labor, nor should they be used as a form of earning revenue.
Virginians deserve last-mile broadband connectivity across the Commonwealth, including in our rural communities. Implementation of last-mile broadband can enhance our local economy and provide our first responders with more stable and reliable communications. It would also be much more affordable and reliable.
Flo believes our transportation infrastructure is fragile, at best, and in serious need of having priorities addressed. Rural roads are being left behind and are leading to lower economies and poor access to necessary healthcare, jobs, and education. People are in danger on the roads, and the roads are made worse every day with little repair funding.
She would like to ensure we have stronger, more efficient methods of public and mass transportation. She would also like to see the tracks extended among local counties so we can connect more rural areas to additional, sustainable job options.
We need to enforce trucks not being allowed in the left lane of a three lane I-81. She knows this is an important issue for district residents and she wants to explore every avenue we have available to ease traffic and congestion on I-81, including possibly widening the roadway and extending on and off ramps.