Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Time to Bring New Energy, Vision & Experience to 35th District

By Karen E. Torrent

My name is Karen Elena Torrent and I am seeking the Democratic nomination for State Senate to bring long overdue and desperately needed new energy, vision, and experience to the people of the 35th District and Virginia.

One of the greatest risks to Virginia’s people, economy and environment is climate change. Yet Richmond does nothing and Dominion Power, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, has invested our money mostly in public relations. It’s called “greenwashing.” Dominion’s inaction goes beyond negligent—it limits Virginia’s ability to compete for 21st century energy and economic opportunities.

My focus as senator will be to put Virginia on a more sustainable path through clean economy and clean transportation solutions.

I’ve been a resident of Falls Church for 30 years and a dedicated public servant who has served as a U.S. Department of Justice environmental prosecutor and a Congressional committee staff counsel. Most of all, I am a citizen advocate — passionate and progressive, but also pragmatic about getting things done. Not with rhetoric or social media buzz, but bringing experience and taking action in a smart and sensible way.

Taking action for people is not just in my resume, it’s in my blood.

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Maybe because I’m a first-generation American, as my parents came here from Argentina and Scotland. As many children of arrivers do, I have a special appreciation for America as the land of opportunity, and a wish to bring that opportunity to everyone.

As a woman, a Latina and most of all, an American, I know how to stand up for what’s right.

So watch out, Dominion Power: I’m coming to fight your old-school political power in Richmond that puts old-school politicians in your pocket. I’ll fight the powers that let Dominion rip off consumers, hold back modern energy sources, and keep Virginia and our economy in the energy dark ages.

Nobody in this race has more experience with climate, energy and the environment than I bring.

• I was the independent citizen who stood up before Virginia’s high court to demand that Dominion give back billions of dollars in overcharges they owed customers, money they were able to keep by pulling the teeth from the citizen watchdog, the State Corporation Commission.

• As a clean energy attorney, I have been involved with renewable businesses in Virginia that create clean energy jobs, provide consumers with clean energy choices at lower energy costs, and reduce pollution through the adoption of innovative technologies.

• I have the legislative experience at both the state and federal levels to transition Virginia’s power and transportation sectors to a sustainable path while boosting our economy, bettering the environment, and protecting our health.

As a counsel on the U.S. Senate Energy and Commerce Committee, I helped draft and get passed the landmark 2007 law that boosted the efficiency of buildings and products from cars to appliances to lightbulbs.

• As a Justice Department prosecutor, I bought federal cases against major corporate polluters to protect human health, welfare, and the quality of our water and air.

Fighting for the people of the 35th district and all Virginians inspires me to run. But I’m also inspired by a dare.

When I was making the consumer case before the Virginia Supreme Court to unfreeze the high Dominion electric rates that were ripping off consumers, one of the justices told me, “If you do not like legislators who pass rate-freeze bills, then you need to elect people who will not do that.”

I thought, ok — I’ll run.

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Even though I have a lot of hard-tested political experience, I’m nothing like the old-school politician. There’s nothing old-school about me.

From my political experience and by nature, I’m a bridge builder—bridging old political divides, bridging policy differences, bridging the best part of Virginia’s past to build a better future, and bringing new solutions to our Old Dominion.

Here’s my promise:

On first day of the 2020 legislative session, I will introduce a bill to modernize Virginia’s utility regulatory framework, provide Virginians with clean and affordable energy choices, and put Virginia on a path to decarbonize our economy and protect our environment and health.

I can’t wait to bring fresh vision, ideas, experience and leadership to Richmond for a brighter, cleaner, safer, more energy-secure future for the 35th district and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Karen E. Torrent is a candidate in the Democratic primary to represent Virginia’s 35th Senate District.

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