Flip-a-District Friday VOLUME VII
Welcome to Volume VII of the 2019 Flip-A-District Friday series.
We have just 88 days until November 5th. We must take back the House of Delegates and the Senate if we want to make any progress on protecting Virginians from gun violence. I am heartbroken after the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, but unlike Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly, my Democratic colleagues and I are ready to act.
Click here to view my floor speech on my Extreme Risk Protection Order bill -- also known as a red flag bill -- which even Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans have endorsed, and 17 states have passed, but Virginia Republicans refuse to consider.
Meet the candidate: Christian Worth
Christian fell in love with Lexington, Virginia, as a freshman at Washington and Lee. In college, she met her husband of almost 24 years, Ben, who grew up in Lexington.
After working her way through law school, Christian built a sole practice representing clients in all aspects of family law, while Ben worked for the local community college. Christian was active in her local bar association and legal community, serving as a volunteer and board member for a local pro bono organization for many years.
Christian and Ben kept a painting of House Mountain over their fireplace to remind them of their goal to return to where they first met. When Ben had the opportunity to take a position as the Academic Vice President of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, the family moved to Lexington.
Christian and Ben's daughter is a rising sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and their son is a rising junior at Rockbridge County High School, where he keeps busy with sports.
Christian has been a dedicated volunteer as a member of the Lexington City Democratic Committee, helping to run get-out-the-vote efforts for the past three elections. She serves on the board of CARE Rockbridge and United Way of Rockbridge, and is an ever-present volunteer at local events and festivals.
House District 24:
November 5th will be a rematch between Christian and incumbent Delegate Ronnie Campbell (R) after he won (to replace now-Congressman Ben Cline) in a low-turnout special election. The 2017 election in this district produced over 24,000 votes, while only 11,104 people voted in last year's special. The 24th District will certainly be no easy pick up, but Christian has raised double the amount of money as Campbell, a reversal of the 2018 special and an encouraging sign.
Located west of Charlottesville and on the border with West Virginia, the district includes parts of Rockbridge, Amherst, Augusta, Lexington, and Bath Counties, as well as sections of Lexington and Buena Vista Cities. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat Campbell:
Ronnie Campbell is a do-nothing Delegate. This year's session was his first, and given that it was a "short session" all Delegates were limited to introducing a maximum of 15 bills. While many of us were making hard choices about which bills we would not be able to introduce during session, Campbell introduced only ten bills.
None of these bills had anything to do with the biggest issues facing the 24th District. According to Census data looking at the five largest localities in the district, it's clear there are far more pressing issues than the ones Campbell chose to pay attention to:
- A quarter of the population of Lexington City County is living in poverty, compared to 10.6 percent statewide.
- The average annual income is at least $9,000 less in each county in the 24th than Virginia as a whole.
- Not one county's percentage of high school graduates is higher than Virginia's average.
- All jurisdictions had at least ten percent less access per person to broadband than the average Virginian.
- Unemployment is higher in every locality than in Virginia as a whole.
Campbell's inaction on these challenges isn't his only problem. He also missed votes (or chose not to vote) on important bills during session, like one on eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and another that would create the Virginia Human Rights Act.
The 24th District deserves a representative who will show up and fight for the issues that matter to them. That is not Ronnie Campbell.
Contact the campaign here.
Meet the candidate: Elizabeth Alcorn
Dr. Elizabeth Alcorn has been a small business owner, healthcare provider, dentist and volunteer in her community for over 30 years. She was born in the Ozarks and raised by parents who both worked in education. Her family moved to Virginia when Elizabeth was young, where her superintendent father was instrumental in desegregating schools in Chesterfield County and Roanoke.
Elizabeth began her college education at Piedmont Virginia Community College and went on to graduate from the University of Virginia’s Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. Elizabeth opened her first dental practice in Stephen’s City. She ran her business while raising her children, Hannah and Skylar, as a single mother in Winchester before relocating to Charlottesville and the surrounding area in 2000.
Elizabeth has worked at and served on the Board of the Charlottesville Free Clinic, and has volunteered at the Winchester Free Clinic, Winchester Migrant Clinic, Head Start, Bright Starts Preschool Program, Donated Dental Program, Charlottesville Baptist Dental Program, Medicaid Dental Expansion, Mission of Mercy, Highland Support Project in Guatemala, International Rescue Committee and the Salvation Army. She was also instrumental in forming the "Grins Program" in 2013 with the University of Virginia Infectious Disease Department to provide free or affordable dental care to hundreds of HIV patients in central Virginia.
Today, Elizabeth and her husband Gerry live on a small farm in Dyke, Virginia, growing their own food and sharing the farm with a donkey, mule and family dog. They own a small business building affordable homes in Albemarle County.
House District 58:
The 58th District is light red -- Trump won it with 56 percent of the vote -- but we're not going to let incumbent Delegate Rob Bell (R) rest easy this cycle. Wrapping around Charlottesville to the north and east, the district includes parts of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, and Rockingham Counties. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat Bell:
Bell is Chairman of the powerful House Courts of Justice Committee, where he frequently orchestrates the killing of great gun safety bills. Just recently he was responsible for punting 15 bills during the Special Session on gun safety to the Crime Commission for "study." In other words, Bell helped ensure that nothing was accomplished regarding gun safety this year.
Bell also has made sure that a number of good, commonsense bills never made it out of Courts of Justice subcommittees (as Chairman, he is able to vote in all subcommittees). These include:
- A bill to raise the minimum wage in Virginia to $9.
- A bill that would make simple possession of marijuana a civil -- instead of criminal -- offense.
- A bill that would add gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation to the list of possible hate crime motives.
- A bill that would repeal Virginia's mandatory transabdominal ultrasound requirement for women seeking an abortion.
Bell has used his position to stand in the way of great ideas for years. It's time for him to go.
Contact the campaign here.
Meet the candidate: Jess Foster
Jess Foster is a mom, small business owner, and local juvenile defender who will actively fight to invest in our kids and for the interests of working families. Jess lives in Remington with her husband, two young children, two dogs, and four donkeys. She credits her role as a mother as being instrumental in her decision to enter politics. Jess wants to protect all children and ensure that the world they inherit is a more just, equal, and secure place.
Jess’s father is a Vietnam veteran and her mother is a naturalized American, originally from Belgium. As a child, Jess spent her early years residing in Virginia, then lived in Belgium for nine years before moving back to Virginia in 2002. Her parents instilled the principles of hard work and social responsibility in their children. Jess has one brother who is an active duty soldier in the Army.
Jess worked her way through undergraduate and law school, oftentimes working multiple jobs. She now owns and operates, together with her law partner and friend, the law firm of Foster McCollam in Manassas, Virginia. She is a passionate advocate for the underdog and has taken a particular interest in representing juveniles.
In particular, Jess represents undocumented immigrant children in need of special immigrant status who have been abandoned or are victims of child abuse and neglect. Her firm also assists the local domestic violence shelter and provides free representation to disadvantaged women who are seeking protective orders against their abusers.
Jess understands the needs of and challenges for small business owners like her, particularly when it comes to providing living wages, family and medical leave, and health insurance.
Jess is fiercely loyal to both her friends and clients. She advocates with passion for issues that matter to her. She hopes to bring that same dedication and spirit to Richmond.
House District 88:
The 88th District is light red, but changing, with Senator Tim Kaine losing the district by just two points in 2018 (a marked improvement over Hillary Clinton's 16-point loss to Trump there in 2016). It's worth noting, however, that incumbent Delegate Mark Cole (R) does not seem to have read the memo about the need to raise money -- Jess has out-raised Cole $52,826 to $9,008 in 2019. She'll need that cash to overcome the Republican edge in the district, but if she keeps on this trajectory she may finally be the one to unseat the 18-year incumbent Cole.
The 88th includes parts of Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Fauquier Counties, as well as some of Fredericksburg City. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat Cole:
As Chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, Mark Cole essentially single-handedly kept the ERA from moving forward in the House of Delegates this past session. Virginia had the opportunity to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA, and the state Senate passed it on a 26 to 14 vote.
Cole would not allow a committee vote on the amendment. This refusal was a repeat of his 2018 stance, when he also denied his colleagues the chance to vote on the ERA by never even scheduling a hearing on the measure. In one interview, Cole dismissively said that "'[t]his is a trumped up issue right now and I think designed to be a political wedge issue.”'
Cole is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of public sentiment. According to a poll released in December 2018 by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, 81 percent of Virginians support ratification of the ERA. The poll's summary stated that support was spread "across party lines and demographic groups."
Mark Cole is standing in the way of progress, and it's time for him to be retired.
Contact the campaign here.
Meet the candidate: Francis Edwards
Francis Edwards, a resident of Weems in Lancaster County, is a relative newcomer to politics. Francis and his wife of 23 years, Donna, have four adult sons and three grandsons. Donna is a native of neighboring Gloucester County, where she grew up in the house her grandfather built over 100 years ago. Francis grew up in England, has a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University, and a post-graduate degree in Business Administration.
Francis had a successful career as an international business executive. As CEO of QVC-Germany he worked with state cable and media regulators and built a successful business from the ground up, creating 2,400 jobs. In the last 10 years Francis provided resources and free consulting to over 20 small businesses.
Francis was an executive committee board member of WMHT public TV/radio and the UNM Anderson Business School Foundation. He was also the keynote speaker at Japan’s national cable convention in Tokyo and the city of Düsseldorf convention in Chicago. He was awarded the keys to the city of Hückelhoven for his creation of jobs.
After turning 60, Francis became a runner and has since raced in 4 marathons, several half marathons, and shorter races, including the Irvington Turkey Trot.
Locally, Francis and Donna are active supporters of the Animal Welfare League, helped raise funds for the Free Health Clinic and the new YMCA buildings, and are lifetime members of the Lancaster Community Library. Francis is passionate about education, the environment, job creation, and human rights.
House District 99:
The 99th District will be a challenging race, but Francis is up for the task. He ran against incumbent Delegate Margaret Ransone (R) in 2017, and while he did not win that round, Francis is determined to achieve a better outcome this time. He has even raised more money than Ransone this year, $98,684 to $54,434, though she does maintain a cash-on-hand advantage.
Bordered by the Potomac River to the north, the Rappahannock to the south, and the Chesapeake Bay to the east, the district includes parts of King George, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Lancaster, Richmond, and Caroline Counties. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat Ransone:
Ransone is extremely proud of her "A" rating from the NRA, and attended one of their closed-doors meetings ahead of the Special Session on gun safety in July. According to a recording of the meeting, she said of Democrats:
“They want our state...They want every single member gone in the House and Senate that is Republican. They intentionally want to turn it blue. Gun control, abortion rights, social justice — they’ve named their three; that’s what they want.”
What a revealing quote. She is apparently opposed to gun safety, women's choice regarding their own reproductive health, and social justice, all of which are popular (as well as objectively good) policies in Virginia.
It's no surprise, however, how radically right-wing she is on gun safety in particular. After Governor Northam called for a Special Session, she posted on Facebook, "[p]ersonally, I find the political timing disgusting from the Governor’s office as the families are still mourning loved ones."
What's "disgusting" is refusing to act when lives are being lost every day to gun violence.
Contact the campaign here.
That's it for Volume VII 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.