I was born in Bangalore, India. My twin brother and I were adopted by our father, a former Peace Corps volunteer from Maine named Anthony Patrick Carey. My father was a single parent, and he worked for the international humanitarian agency CARE for nearly 30 years.
From 1975-1995, we lived in New Delhi, India; Port-Au-Prince, Haiti; Brooklyn, New York; New Delhi, India (again); and Manila, Philippines, where I graduated from high school. We traveled all over the world during those years and visited many other wonderful countries like Kenya, Thailand, Austria, and Taiwan.
In 1995, I was accepted to American University in Washington, D.C., and I graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government.
From a young age, I was immersed in Democratic values and public service, and for 12 years I’ve been fighting for progressive change legislatively and through grassroots political action with a proven track record of results.
When I was a child, my father told me stories about his early life as an activist protesting the war in Vietnam. During one of these stories, he took my hand and put it on his head, and I could feel this deep dent where he’d been hit. He told me, "John, no matter what you do in life, stand up for what you believe, make a difference, and if you get knocked down, get back up."
In 2000, I worked on Get Out The Vote operations for a House race in the West End of Louisville (where Muhammed Ali and Wes Unseld were born). On Election Night, when Florida was called for Vice President Gore, I went to my room to get ready for the party, and when I came back downstairs, it was like a funeral. Florida was too close to call.
Two days later, as the Southern Field Coordinator for People For the American Way, I was part of the team headed to West Palm Beach, FL for the recount. We all know what happened. We got knocked down, but 8 years later, we got back up.
As result of the 2000 election and after the passing of Virginia Congressman Norm Sisisky in March 2001, a special election was held to fill his seat, People For the American Way decided to pilot the Election Protection program to make sure voters know their rights. A colleague and I interviewed nearly all 18 election registrars in the 4th congressional district, the program was born, and now it’s a national program with hundreds of volunteers.
President Donald Trump was elected in a time of disillusionment with institutions and government. Now, the challenge falls to us—the next generation of leaders—to make the case for good and fair government. While the Republican Congress and President Trump are busy banning immigrants and refugees, undermining our public schools with an unqualified Secretary of Education, and disregarding inconvenient truths about the size of the opposition, we must be proactive with a message that's honest, clear, and direct and work together for a stronger Virginia.
After this past election, I again felt the pull of public service and am now running to represent the 67th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.
People often ask me, “Why are you running?” I tell them I’m running to represent the 67th District for three reasons:
First, I believe that the challenge falls to us—the next generation of leaders—to make the case for good and fair government.
Second, as Virginia grows more diverse, we must resist fear-mongering from President Trump about our diversity and embrace it as a strength.
And finally, I believe voters in our district deserve a choice.
What is good and fair government? It’s a government that listens to all its citizens and to each side of an argument. The recent introduction of Senate Bill 1055, an anti-protest bill, lacked empathy for opponents. As the ACLU noted, it was an overreaction to civil disobedience, without regard for whether the protests are peaceful or why there might be a need to protest in the first place. Empathy is missing in our government, and it has become deaf to the real issues affecting the everyday working people, who face spiraling debt from open-ended lines of credit and skyrocketing day care costs stretching family budgets. There’s clearly a need for lawmakers to have a good faith discussion about regulations and not leave bills to die in committee, like HB 103, which would have capped interest rates on consumer loans, or HB 7, which would have extended paid sick leave benefits to employees working at least 18 hours a week.
In terms of diversity, my global experiences position me well to reach out to diverse audiences. I grew up in four different countries and went to international schools among people from many different cultures and traditions. I credit these experiences for developing me into a well-rounded human being who can find common ground with others.
Again, I also believe the voters in the 67th District deserve a choice. In 2015, Delegate Jim LeMunyon ran unopposed – that’s no choice. Without meaningful choices, we can’t own our future and grow. Four years ago, I made a meaningful choice of my own. After 12 years in national, state, and local politics, starting at People For the American Way to helping fight for the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I became the primary caretaker of our children, Emma and Jack, while my wife Tara worked full-time at Neustar based in Northern Virginia. The first couple of years, I was one of the few guys at the grocery store with my kids in the morning or at the park, but I soon saw many more fathers making the same choice I did. I still followed the news and considered becoming involved with local issues, but it was hard to find the time after chasing kids all day. But now, after this national election and with my youngest entering school this fall, it is time for me to choose a new path.
Politics is my passion and it was hard to leave, but now, with a little perspective, I realize the time away was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got the opportunity to remember what life was like outside of the political bubble and gain more empathy for those who vote differently on the issues than I do. And now, I’m ready to re-enter the arena and offer the people of the 67th District an alternative to Delegate Jim LeMunyon.
There is hard work ahead of us as we build our party, and the upcoming primary will be an important indicator of our support base leading into the first year of the Trump Administration. This District deserves Democratic representation in Richmond again. I’ve been a Democrat my whole life and voted in nearly every primary – we must stand up for our beliefs. We must not simply be the party of opposition but one of action. I will demonstrate with enthusiasm and conviction that our politics are morally sound and that they put our communities first.