Karen Elena Torrent is a respected attorney, small business owner and public advocate who has lived in Falls Church for over 20 years.
She has stood up before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend commuters; prosecuted polluters as a U.S. Justice Department litigator; and helped Congress modernize America’s energy solutions and security. Progressive yet pragmatic, Karen has fought for modern, clean, renewable energy choices for Virginia citizens and businesses that will foster innovation and job creation, and help reduce greenhouse gases that are fueling climate disaster and destruction.
Karen is proud of how Virginia has led our nation from its beginnings. But today, old-school politics are holding our Commonwealth back from leading the future. As our Senator, Karen will bring a fresh approach to Richmond, challenging the "powers that be" and bridging the old political divides.
She will fight to:
1. Restore public power over Virginia’s monopoly public utility so it puts
customers ahead of its own corporate interests;
2. Push for 21st century transportation solutions to break the gridlock stressing people’s
lives, and promote livable communities with affordable housing; and,
3. Pursue alternative funding to modernize schools and allow our teachers and police
to live in the communities they serve.
Northern Virginia is on the move. Karen represents the new wave of leaders who are taking Virginia forward, unleashing our combined hearts, minds, talents and pride to advance the Commonwealth’s leadership and competitive edge in America and world.
She’s running to serve the public—as a privilege to listen, hear and speak up for the needs of constituents in Richmond, raise their voices against the din of old-school power and money, and get more done for everyone. That’s the way Virginia’s Founders of America wanted democracy to work, and that’s the way Karen will represent the 35th district.
Karen is first-generation Hispanic American who grew up in rural Ohio. Karen holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics from Baldwin-Wallace College and was also a member of the intercollegiate tennis team. She earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota School of Law and her Masters of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.
Karen began her career in public service as a Trial Attorney with U.S. Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources prosecuting cases under federal environmental statutes.
She then served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as a Staff Counsel under Chairman John Dingell participating in the passage of environmental and energy bills including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008.
Karen then moved on to become a Federal Legislative Director at an environmental non-profit working on clean energy and sustainability issues at the federal level.
Choosing to focus on Virginia matters, Karen worked for a Virginia solar developer to learn the business and its challenges first-hand. Karen has since founded and is the President of her legal consulting firm located in Falls Church.
In her capacity as a private citizen in 2017, Karen appeared before the Virginia Supreme Court along with industrial and commercial consumers seeking to unfreeze the high Dominion electric rates and the return overpayments to consumers. The Court ruled in favor of Dominion and against Karen even though she was appearing pro se had to pay damages to Dominion.
Karen Torrent will fight for us.
Richmond isn't working for Virginia families for one simple reason: old-school power and money. There's nothing old-school about Karen. Her pragmatic approach to every issue is informed by data, expert input, and the reality we face.
Karen on the Issues
My Policy Plans
ENERGY AND CLIMATE POLICY
The issues many Virginians have with Dominion Power, our dominant energy company, perfectly demonstrate what’s wrong in Richmond.
As a public utility, Dominion’s only job is to serve the public, to deliver affordable and reliable energy to consumers. Politicians gave Dominion monopoly power and protection—the exclusive right to serve most of Virginia—in exchange for charging reasonable rates while receiving a competitive return on its capital projects and other investments.
Instead of serving the public’s interest, Dominion Power has seized the power over the people of the Old Dominion. Our multibillion-dollar public utility company has taken control of Virginia’s General Assembly by putting politicians in its pocket to abuse its monopoly power in startling ways:
Putting corporate profits well ahead of people and progress.
Creating a $10 billion slush fund from the overcharges of its consumers that Dominion claims is for energy modernization, but in reality Dominion sold lawmakers a pig in a poke with big promises but no specific plans to spend ratepayer’s money.
Controlling Virginia's electricity market and blocking competition, stifling consumer energy choices and savings, as well as modern, clean energy investment, industry, innovation and jobs.
Defining Virginia's energy and climate policy—like the classic fox in the henhouse—ignoring the mounting public demand for modern energy options and concern for climate-driven disaster and destruction.
Dominion even seized the power to limit companies, industries, and local governments—even homeowners—from generating their own power on their own property!
That’s right: Richmond’s old-school politics has let Dominion Power and its connected, well-heeled lobbyists—paid by our electric bills—to dominate our energy prices, choices, solutions and future.
As an attorney committed to serving the public, I’ve been fighting to modernize energy solutions and protect the environment all my professional life—as a U.S. Justice Department litigator; a Congressional committee expert; to the U.S. Supreme Court defending passenger rail; a citizen before the Virginia high court demanding Dominion give overcharged ratepayers their money back; and in the private sector bringing new energy solutions to Virginia companies and local governments.
As State Senator, I will keep fighting for the people of the 35th District and Virginia and our energy and environmental future, starting with these needs:
Challenging Dominion’s grip on Virginia’s energy choices, costs and future by opening the electricity service market to competition.
Breaking Dominion-driven barriers facing Virginia’s businesses, local governments, industries and families from seizing modern energy options to generate their own power.
Eliminating a back-room statutory provision that restricts the amount of power Dominion customers can generate from renewable sources such as solar panels, to 1 percent of Dominion's total power generation for the prior year.
Welcoming and permitting all types of renewal energy project financing mechanisms, including power purchase agreements.
As I’ve said, as State Senator I will never take a dime from Dominion because my job is to fight to restore the power of the people over their public utility—and our energy future.
Moving around in this District is miserable for drivers, commuters, bikers and pedestrians -- and is only expected to worsen with additional development and population growth. Some schools have gone so far as to warn their students not to bike to school as it is to dangerous. In addition, to stressing everyone out and being dangerous, massive congestion hurts the economy in terms of wasted time and fuel, and the environment, as more greenhouse gases are emitted.
We cannot pave our way out of this problem. Instead we must focus on shifting to more public transportation options and creating more walkable and bikeable communities. In order to successfully get people out of their cars public transportation options must be reliable, affordable and on-time and connect with other modes, services and bus routes.
Federal funding from Congress will continue to be limited in the coming years, so Virginia must come up with alternative funding mechanisms to make the needed investments in public transit and infrastructure.
As your State Senator I will focus on making our communities more walkable, bikeable and pedestrian friendly by implementing short-term legislative fixes for our traffic chokepoints and a long-term legislation to fund capital infrastructure investments such as:
Promoting alternative financing mechanisms such as Transit Oriented Development to provide additional transportation funds.
Incentivizing the transition of the transportation sector to electric vehicles including buses in consultation with the State Corporation Commission and other stakeholders.
Insure that funds raised from any congestion pricing plan are dedicated to our mass transit system, specifically metro and buses.
Insuring that proposed investments to mass transit must be definite, concrete, and immediate, and must include dedicated metro funding.
Pressing for immediate adoption of Bus Rapid Transit on our busiest roads such as Route 7, Columbia Pike, Route 50 and also along Interstate 66.
Work with VDOT and Fairfax County to immediately decrease the speed down to 25 mph on roads that are now used as cut throughs in our neighborhoods.
Deploying protected bike lanes and sidewalks to make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers by speeding up the permitting process.
Virginia’s school buildings are in a massive state of disrepair, with examples mounting of leaking roofs, broken faucets, mold, infestation, insufficient space, and faltering heating and cooling systems. According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, schools all over the state are struggling to maintain safe, productive learning environments. Virginia now spends 33 percent less (between state and local governments) than in 2008 on school capital projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing facilities, and upgrading equipment.
In Senate District 35, some students attend classes in trailers because of lack of room and capital for school expansion. The trailers suffer from a lack of adequate cooling and ventilation, making it difficult to learn while increasing risk of mold contamination. In addition, the safety concerns of children moving between trailers to school buildings creates a serious safety issue.
As your State Senator I will seek to improve our public school infrastructure by investing in capital improvements for schools and also investing in human resources, such as increasing teacher pay so they can live in the district they serve.
In the News
Listen to Karen lay out her vision to restore the power back to the people, put Virginia on a sustainable path to address climate and embrace the 21st Century clean economy.
Falls Church News-Press
March 7 -13, 2019