RICHMOND, Va. — When Winsome Sears is sworn in as Virginia's lieutenant governor Saturday, she'll make history two times over. First, she becomes the first woman lieutenant governor in the history of the commonwealth. It's a post that has been held by men for the entirety of the state’s history. Her win in November also made her the first woman of color elected to statewide office in Virginia.
Since her win, Sears has made it clear that she will focus on education as her top legislative priority.
"The only barrier that I really care about is the education of children," Sears told WUSA9 in November. "Because education is what lifted my father out of poverty when he came from Jamaica in 1963 with only $1.75. It's what lifted me, and it's what will lift everyone. That's what I really want because then you can dictate your own future."
More recently she spoke about the concept of school choice in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“The money in education follows the brick building, it doesn’t follow the child,” she said. “I don’t care about the brick building. I care about the human life. We don’t get do-overs for our children.”
During a recent visit to Fort Monroe, Sears made it clear she wants Critical Race Theory out of classrooms, even though it's not part of the curriculum for Virginia schools.
“I don’t subscribe to the victimhood that some people like to put on us as Black people," Sears said. "We have survived and thrived and overcome. Redlining, overcome that. Racism, overcome that."
Sears, a businesswoman and Marine Corps. veteran, last held office two decades ago. She returns to politics after serving one term in the House of Delegates from 2002 to 2004 and running unsuccessfully for a U.S. House seat in 2004.
She was also the vice president of the Virginia State Board of Education and received presidential appointments to the US Census Bureau, where she co-chaired the African American Committee and the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. She is also a trained electrician, the leader of a men’s prison ministry and a director of a women’s homeless shelter for The Salvation Army.
As lieutenant governor, she has an important role in presiding over the state Senate, which is made up of 21 Democrats, 18 Republicans and one Independent.