Flip-a-District Friday VOLUME IV
Welcome to the fourth edition of the 2019 Flip-a-District Friday series.
This week we're featuring four more fantastic candidates whose success in November will help us take back the House of Delegates, so that next year we can have a real discussion about gun safety instead of the unproductive charade of a Special Session the Republicans held last week.
Meet the candidate: Sheila Bynum-Coleman
Sheila Bynum-Coleman is a native of Chesterfield County, where she attended Monacan High School. She received her B.A. from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Sheila is a mother of five children, all of whom attend Chesterfield Public Schools. A successful small business owner and community advocate, Sheila first became involved in politics when her Delegate decided it wasn’t worth his time to discuss her child with special needs. Since then, she has made it her mission to advocate for improved school services for children with learning disabilities.
Sheila has also dealt with one of a parent’s worst nightmares: her daughter was shot in 2016. While she thankfully survived, Sheila is determined to ensure that as few families as possible in Virginia experience the trauma and grief of having a loved one affected by senseless gun violence.
In many ways, Sheila is a Chesterfield success story. She has a background in real estate and construction, maintaining several successful small businesses. She was also appointed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe as the first African American woman to the Board of Contractors.
Sheila spends much of her free time teaching classes for first-time home buyers, leading entrepreneurial development workshops, and coaching businesses on fiscal management. Sheila also helps numerous organizations such as Veterans Helping Veterans, which supports former service members in the Richmond Area.
House District 66:
The 66th is an important pick up opportunity, since earlier this year the federal courts stepped in to undo the Republicans' racial gerrymandering. The district was redrawn to become much more Democratic. Flipping this district is critical to winning back the majority in the House, and just imagine the national statement it would make to flip Speaker Kirk Cox's seat. The district, south of Richmond, includes parts of Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights City, as well as a small part of Richmond City. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Cox has to go:
Speaker Kirk Cox has set the rules of the road for the House of Delegates since January 2018, and he has used his position to smother bipartisanship, defer to right-wing lobbying groups like the NRA, and block bills that the majority of Virginians support.
Below are just a few examples of how Speaker Cox has been making the news in 2019:
- Gun safety: "The morning that Virginia’s legislature convened a special session on gun control, the National Rifle Association set up shop in prime real estate: the conference room belonging to Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox." - Washington Post Reporters Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella
- ERA: “'There is one man, and one man only, standing between 160 million women across this country [and] their ability to finally be enshrined as human beings equal to men in the United States Constitution...Virginia has the opportunity to lead.'" - Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy
- Anti-choice: At a rally organized by anti-choice, extreme right groups like the Family Foundation - “'There’s not a more important issue that I’ve dealt with in my career in the legislature than life,'” - Speaker Kirk Cox
- Redistricting reform: "Kirk Cox has appealed to keep his racially gerrymandered district all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. He wants to choose his voters instead of the voters having the opportunity to choose him." - Daily Kos
- LGBTQ issues: On four anti-discrimination bills that passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote but were killed at the direction of Cox - “We have done everything we could do to show this speaker that this is supported by the people of Virginia and his constituents. The only solution we see now is new leadership.” - James Parrish of Equality Virginia
We agree with James -- it's time for new leadership in Virginia's House of Delegates, and the first step is unseating Speaker Cox.
Contact the campaign here: email@example.com
Meet the candidate: Neri Canahui-Ortiz
Neri Canahui-Ortiz was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1976 during the country's 36-year-long civil war. From an early age, Neri worked to break himself out of the cycle of poverty while growing up in one of the most dangerous sectors of the city. In 1994, at the age of seventeen, Neri realized that to escape poverty, danger, and make an honest living he would have to leave his home. Later that year, Neri arrived in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
During his first few years in the United States Neri learned English while working as a general laborer in the residential construction market. Like many hundreds of thousands of workers to this day, however, Neri was a victim of misclassification and wage theft at the hands of his employer. Eventually, Neri found the Carpenters Union and began building a career as a union carpenter, with good wages and benefits that helped him start a family.
Realizing the important role that the union had played in lifting him out of poverty and exploitation, Neri became heavily involved with his Carpenters Union Local 1665. As recording secretary, Neri solidified his mastery of the English language and proved himself to be a valuable leader within the union. In 2006, Neri was elected President of his local and began work to grow his locals membership and organize workers into the union.
Recognizing his talent, the parent council of his carpenters local brought Neri on as a council representative. Since 2007 Neri has fought to protect construction workers in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland from the same exploitation he suffered early in his career. Until 2018, Neri served as President of his Carpenters Local and on the Executive Board of the Northern Virginia Labor Federation.
House District 54:
The 54th District has become more blue in recent years, with Senator Kaine beating Corey Stewart by two points in 2018. While Democratic turnout drops off a bit during state election years, incumbent Delegate Bobby Orrock has faced just one Democratic opponent in the 21st Century, so he may be a bit rusty on the campaign trail. Neri's campaign will no doubt be bolstered by his strong connection to the labor community and his deep understanding of the issues facing the 54th District. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Orrock needs to go:
Orrock serves as a leading member of the House Rules Committee, where bills are notoriously sent to die without a single hearing held or vote taken. If a bill is referred to the Rules Committee, it is exclusively the Republicans' decision whether the bill will be killed or referred to another committee for consideration.
As a member of the majority on the Rules Committee, Orrock helped to ensure that many important bills never saw the light of day during the 2018 and 2019 sessions. These are just a few of the dozens of great measures that died without ever receiving a single vote:
- A bill to repeal Virginia's unconstitutional, statutory ban on same-sex marriage.
- A simple pro-transparency bill that would require that all committee and subcommittee meetings be streamed online.
- A bill to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
- A criminal justice reform bill to raise the threshold amount for grand larceny to $750 from $500.
- A bill strengthening the General Assembly's relatively weak anti-sexual harassment policies.
Finally, as the Republicans' parliamentary leader on the floor, Orrock stood front and center and led the effort to prevent the ERA from getting a floor vote last session. It's time to retire Orrock.
Contact the campaign here.
Meet the candidate: Rhonda Seltz
Rhonda grew up in Fairlawn and graduated from Pulaski County High School where she was the first girl ever enrolled in auto mechanics. She worked two jobs to pay her way through Virginia Tech and through graduate school in California. After graduating, she spent eleven years in Yakima, Washington where she gained work experience in health and human services including aging and long-term care, mental health, substance abuse, and legal aid. Her grassroots organizing efforts led to the designation of “All American City” for Yakima.
Rhonda returned home to Virginia in 1999 with a new appreciation for the beautiful New River Valley and came equipped with new skills that enabled her to help thousands of people in southwest Virginia gain access to healthcare. The local community is important to Rhonda -- her passion and determination, combined with decades of professional experience, will allow her to continue to create social change at the state and local levels.
The strong partnerships she has created over the last twenty years with Virginia’s Employment Commissions, New River Community Action's Head Start, CHIP, public schools and many other organizations have allowed Rhonda to stay abreast of the successes and challenges in the district. Critically, her strong community connections have created opportunities to bring in much-needed grant money and other resources.
Rhonda will take the issues of the 7th District directly to Richmond as a Delegate to make sure that rural and often-neglected voices are heard. She wants to continue to fight for Virginia families, but she needs your help this time to get to Richmond.
House District 7:
The 7th District is light red, but with the right resources and a great candidate in Rhonda Seltz, it is a potential pick-up. Located in southwest Virginia, south of Blacksburg, the district encompasses parts of Montgomery, Pulaski, and Floyd Counties. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Rush needs to go:
Incumbent Nick Rush's website is remarkably devoid of substance. There is no "Issues" section, and clicking the "News" tab yields no results. When looking at previous iterations of his website that cannot be found through a search engine or his own current website, it's clear that Rush is hard-line conservative...but apparently coy online about it nowadays.
- Rush announced that he would enthusiastically stump for Donald Trump and hand out "Trump gear" at a rally.
- Rush listed "Protecting Our Family Values" as one of his main (and few) issues, stating that he "is Pro-Life, Pro-Gun, Pro-Family."
- Rush touted his conspiracy theory-based bill to make voting more difficult, claiming he introduced it "because of news reports of voter fraud and double voting on both sides of the aisle after last year’s Presidential election."
Maybe Rush thinks he can gloss over his right-wing record by excluding content from his website, but we know better.
Contact the campaign here.
Meet the candidate: Nancy Guy
Nancy grew up in a Navy family in the 83rd District and attended Thoroughgood Elementary and Cox High School. She graduated from the College of William and Mary, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in Government, and earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
She and her husband of 38 years, Richard Guy, moved to Charlotte, NC for a decade where they practiced law and had two children. In 1992, they returned to Virginia Beach to be closer to extended family. Their children are now grown and Nancy and Richard have two grandchildren.
Since her return to Virginia, Nancy has helped to care for her ailing and dying parents by managing a family real estate partnership, helping in the management of a home health care company founded by her father, and working as an educational consultant assisting students. In 1996, she was elected to the Virginia Beach School Board and was subsequently re-elected for a second term.
After successfully battling breast cancer in 2012 and 2013, Nancy decided to simplify her life. She liquidated the real estate partnership in 2014 and closed down her educational consulting business in 2017 to concentrate on spending more time with family and giving more time to causes in which she strongly believes.
As a proud product of Virginia’s public education programs, supporting public education has long been her passion. In addition to her two terms on the School Board, she has served on the Board of WHRO, a public broadcast radio station, the Board of SECEP (the Southeastern Cooperative Educational Program), and the Virginia Education Foundation Board. Nancy also served two terms as President of the PTSA at Virginia Beach’s largest high school, was a member of the Virginia Beach City Council of PTAs and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Virginia PTA. Nancy believes that a quality public education system is the backbone of democracy and will do everything in her power to provide it with the necessary resources.
In addition to educational activities, Nancy is active in her church, Bayside Presbyterian, where she is an elder and, through her work with the Community Service Ministry, has volunteered with a variety of programs that help others, including Seton Youth Shelters, Samaritan House, Judeo-Christian Outreach, and VOA/Lighthouse Winter Shelter.
She has the education, experience, passion and time to devote herself fully to representing the people of the 83rd District.
House District 83:
The 83rd District, like the 66th, was recently redrawn in a manner that makes it lean much more Democratic. This is a great chance for Democrats to flip a district that hasn't gone blue since 2007. If we want to take back the House, this is a must win district. Nancy has outraised Stolle so far, and has lots of momentum. The 83rd is mostly made up of Virginia Beach City, with a small portion of Norfolk City included. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why Stolle needs to go:
Virginia Beach is in desperate need of resources for its schools -- the Commonwealth Fund found that "[s]tate direct aid has fallen sharply for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, adjusting for inflation" as of fiscal year 2018, and "Virginia Beach has taken on a larger share of funding" as a result. In March 2019, Virginia Beach City Public Schools were forced to plea for additional funding from the City Council since they were unable to provide promised services for their younger students.
Stolle's rhetoric on public education implies that he has been successful in bringing more funding in to help Virginia Beach schools, but his votes on education would do otherwise. For example, Stolle has voted to redirect funding to private, religious, and charter schools multiple times in the last two years. Before that, in 2017, the Virginia Education Association gave him a 25 percent rating, when he took several votes that would shift funding away from public schools like those struggling in Virginia Beach.
Stolle also has a shaky record on higher education. Last year, he voted to kill a bill that would create the Virginia Student Loan Refinancing Authority, which would have helped countless young adults with crushing college debt. He has repeatedly voted against providing in-state tuition for DACA recipients and those who have applied for permanent residency in Virginia. Considering that when he first ran for Delegate he declared that he would "expand higher education opportunities for all," Stolle seems to have turned his back on this important principle. Interestingly, the section on higher education has since been removed from his website.
Contact the campaign here.
That's it for Volume IV 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.