Flip-a-District Friday VOLUME II
Welcome to the second issue of our 2019 Flip-a-District Friday series.
After last week's disappointing (but hardly surprising) refusal by conservatives on the Supreme Court to strike down political gerrymandering, I am reminded how critical winning the General Assembly is this November. Virginia Republicans have historically shown little restraint when gerrymandering maps; unless we succeed this fall, you can be sure they will roll back the progress that was made this session on non-partisan redistricting reform (click here to read my end-of-session newsletter which outlines these steps).
The 2020 Census is coming (despite Trump's best efforts) and whoever controls the General Assembly will manage how that Census data is used to draw maps for the next decade. Let's make sure Democrats and nonpartisan redistricting come out on top instead of Republicans and partisan gerrymandering.
Meet the candidate: Starla Kiser
Starla is from Dante, Virginia. She attended Ervinton High School and East Tennessee State University. Starla worked with a local NASA program in Wise County as an undergraduate, leading to work at other NASA programs across the country including the NASA Astrobiology Academy in California. She researched space medicine in Russia, France, and Silicon Valley and studied humanities in the Netherlands before attending medical school.
These unique opportunities allowed Starla to move to Boston and earn two degrees from Harvard. She received a medical degree at Harvard Medical School, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School, studying international development and health policy. She did her medical residency training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Starla is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
Starla has worked in global health, primary care, and service delivery innovation in Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, India, and rural Appalachia. She runs a non-profit, Healios Foundation, that invests in high-impact entrepreneurs and organizations in developing countries and under-served areas in the U.S., and promotes economic innovation in rural areas. Through the Foundation, she helped create a primary school for children in South Sudan.
Starla worked in clinical innovation at Iora Health and Harken Health, an innovative primary care start-up, creating and directing wellness and disease management programs for a large population in Chicago, Illinois.
After Harken Health closed in 2017, Starla decided to take the lessons she learned there and moved home to create her own business and innovation lab in Southwest Virginia. She developed Healios Health, an innovative direct primary care and employer-based clinic. Her clinic was designed to serve patients who were uninsured in Virginia before Medicaid was expanded. With Medicaid expansion, she is transitioning her business to focus on building medical software. Starla also worked with local female entrepreneurs to create Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs -- a newly formed organization to support young women to become entrepreneurs in the region.
Starla believes in the expansion of medication-assisted treatment for those with opioid addiction, and has worked for over a year at the Dickenson County Behavioral Health Center, treating individuals in the county with opioid addiction. She is also working with her sister, CEO of IMPERFKT Foundation, on projects to support mental health in the region, while also promoting the arts, tourism, and economic development in Southwest Virginia.
House District 4:
The 4th District is a heavy lift, but Starla is a spectacular candidate already working on some of the more vexing issues facing that part of Virginia. The district includes parts of Washington, Russell, Dickenson, and Wise Counties -- click here for more district details. It is currently represented by Todd Pillion, who is running for a state senate seat. The Republican candidate in what is now an open seat is Will Wampler.
Just one example of why Wampler cannot win:
Will Wampler, 27, is hoping to succeed Republican Delegate Todd Pillion in the 4th District, but for an aspiring new delegate he sure is looking to the past. He moved to the district to run after working as a lobbyist, and is primarily running on his family’s name. One of Wampler's signature issues is his insistence that the coal industry will make a comeback as long as he backs failing means of boosting the sector. His own website says: "I will always stand up for and protect the coal industry and our way of life here. I will continue to support the coalfield tax credit and oppose efforts by regulatory agencies to put our miners out of work.
If Wampler wants to help the 4th District, he certainly is taking an outdated approach. Facts are facts: coal consumption is at its lowest since 1978 and there is no indication in the markets that change is magically around the corner. In fact, just this week, a third major coal company, Blackjewel LLC, filed for bankruptcy -- approximately 2,000 miners across four states, including Virginia, will lose their jobs, and this has nothing to do with a war on coal. One energy expert recently noted that "the fate of coal has been sealed, the market has spoken...The trend is irreversible now, the decline of coal is unstoppable despite Donald Trump’s rhetoric.”
A smarter approach would be to pivot to clean energy, where there is plenty of demand and opportunity for new employment. Silvio Marcacci of Energy Innovation wrote in Forbes that "[e]conomics are driving both sides of this equation: Building new renewable energy is cheaper than running existing coal plants and prices get cheaper every year. By 2025, almost every existing coal plant in the United States will cost more to operate than building replacement wind and solar within 35 miles of each plant."
The 4th District deserves a representative who will look for smart solutions to create jobs, not a cheerleader for this one declining industry. They deserve a representative who will aggressively work to diversify the economy while supporting the coal miners and the remaining jobs as the market is transitioning. The region needs to attract new industries looking for workers with the skills miners already possess, and be at the forefront of building these new clean and renewable energy technologies. They also need a representative looking out for the miners, and not just the coal companies.
Contact the campaign: email@example.com
Meet the candidate: Eric Stamps
Born and raised in Danville, Eric graduated from George Washington High School. A gifted athlete, he played baseball, basketball, soccer, and ran cross country, as well as coached soccer locally. He continued to volunteer as a soccer coach while attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He also created an intramural soccer team at the University.
It was during his time at the University that Eric developed Spasmodic Dysphonia, a disorder affecting the voice muscles. Despite being told he could not speak as part of his treatment, Eric learned to navigate the health care system. He discovered, even without a voice, that his need to advocate for others who needed health care was key to recovery.
After graduating with a degree in Web Design and New Media, Eric returned to Danville with a new voice and a calling to help his hometown. He continued his education and earned his Master’s Degree in Media Design at Full Sail University. Although he worked in print shops after graduating, Eric spent most of his time volunteering for numerous political campaigns, including the congressional campaigns of Leslie Cockburn and Jennifer Lewis. He founded Indivisible Southside to focus on voter registration and engagement, and managed Dr. Gary Miller’s successful campaign for City Council.
Eric is a member of Virginia Organizing, Peoples Action Virginia, the Pittsylvania County NAACP, and the Dan River Blair’s Civic League. He is the proud son of Wayne Stamps, a Food Service Manager and Linda Stamps, a care-taker, and is father to children Liam and Autumn.
House District 14:
The 14th District is light red, but Democrats are not going to let the incumbent Delegate Danny Marshall (R) keep the seat. The district encompasses parts of Danville City, Pittsylvania County and Henry County. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Marshall needs to go:
Marshall is extremely conservative, voting with his caucus 95 percent of the time in 2019 during floor votes. His record in subcommittees is just as extreme -- his vote has repeatedly blocked great bills from moving forward and pushed bad ones, including:
- HB2146: blocking a bill that would have allowed localities to undertake conservation and replacement of trees.
- HB2378: blocking a bill that would have required health insurance plans to include reproductive health care services.
- HB2611: voting for a bill that would prevent Virginia's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
- HB2260: voting for a bill that would create notoriously terrible "catastrophic health plans."
- HB1850: blocking a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $9.
Marshall has been on the front lines of holding back good bills and promoting all of the wrong bills, and it's time for him to be retired.
Contact the campaign: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the candidate: Mavis Taintor
Mavis built a highly successful career in the financial industry, capped by her founding and serving as co-CEO of Callidus Capital Management. After selling the firm to the Blackstone Group, she, with her husband of over 50 years, Dr. Zebulon Taintor, fulfilled a dream and purchased land outside of Waterford and started a horse farm.
In addition to her business career, Mavis has been a Head Start teacher and taught at the university level. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a BA from Cornell University, and an MBA from New York University.
Mavis is active in the community in Loudoun County and serves on the Board of Directors of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic, which provides residential services for people suffering from opioid and addiction problems.
House District 33:
The 33rd District is light red, but Mavis Taintor has been doing a fantastic job of out-raising her opponent and is making this race very competitive. The district encompasses parts of Loudoun, Frederick, and Clarke Counties, and is currently represented by Delegate Dave LaRock (R). Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why LaRock needs to go:
LaRock is as dangerously anti-LGBTQ rights as it gets. Here are a few disturbing examples (and it's just the tip of the iceberg).
- He created a petition to try to pressure a local school board to reverse their decision to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policy.
- He said on Facebook that being transgender is a "social contagion" and compared it to anorexia (see the below post).
- He called harmful and debunked conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people "beautiful."
- He introduced an anti-transgender bill that would have made it "nearly impossible for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates in the Commonwealth."
- He led the opposition to my bill, Jacob's Law, on the House floor on behalf of the rabidly anti-gay Family Foundation, outrageously and falsely claiming it would enable one person to own another. I'm happy to report that Jacob's Law is law in Virginia now, despite LaRock's clumsy efforts to defeat it in the House.
These are just a handful of the many examples of LaRock's bigoted rhetoric on LGBTQ rights. He might be the new "bathroom bill" Bob Marshall (who Delegate Danica Roem masterfully beat in 2017), and his homophobia has no place in Virginia.
Contact the campaign: click here
Meet the candidate: Gayle Johnson
Gayle is ready to serve her community and make a difference in today’s political arena. She combines creativity and analytical thinking to find new solutions. As a community activist, she listens to concerns from all sides to build a consensus and find meaningful solutions for all parties.
Gayle has always held a passion for the arts. After graduating from Oberlin, she founded and led Capriole, a baroque music ensemble, which became an internationally acclaimed "Ensemble in Residence" at the College of William & Mary and Old Dominion University.
Gayle envisions a sustainable future, but she doesn’t just “talk the talk." She earned certifications as a Class A Contractor, LEED Accredited Professional, and Certified Green Professional. In 2013, she built the first net zero energy home in Virginia Beach to inspire others to invest in energy efficient building.
House District 82:
The 82nd is a “reddish-purple” district, with Democrats and Republicans tying in the federal Senate race in 2018. The seat, which falls within Virginia Beach City limits, is currently held by Delegate Jason Miyares (R). Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Miyares has to go:
Miyares authored the punitive work requirement provision that was included in Medicaid expansion. Study after study, including two recent reports from the well-respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has shown that "Medicaid work requirements are out of step with the lived experiences of low-income people ... [and] represent a case of policymaking gone astray, causing more harm than good."
Miyares claimed that he introduced the work requirement provision because “there is a psychological benefit to work….benefit for your children…showing them this is what adulthood looks like." In fact, work requirements -- which have been blocked by federal courts in multiple states -- have an overall negative impact on health outcomes despite this "psychological benefit." A groundbreaking study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed "that implementation of the first-ever work requirements in Medicaid in 2018 was associated with significant losses in health insurance coverage in the initial six months of the policy but no significant change in employment." Work requirements also require an enormous and expensive new bureaucracy to manage—ironic from the party that claims to abhor big government.
13,146 residents of Virginia Beach City have received coverage because of Medicaid expansion -- some of these Virginians will inevitably lose their coverage when work requirements are ultimately implemented. The question is whether they will have a representative in Richmond who will fight for them.
Contact the campaign: email@example.com
That's it for Volume II of our Flip-a-District Friday series. I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.