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Prepare for the 2020 General Assembly Session
Please join us at the LWV-VA Pre-Session on December 4 to prepare for advocacy and action in the 2020 General Assembly Session and network with Virginia advocacy groups!
This is your opportunity to hear about our legislative priorities and those of our many partners around the Commonwealth. At this Roundtable, advocacy experts from many nonprofit organizations come to speak about their priority issues and legislation, and give their predictions on what may or may not happen during the 2020 General Assembly Session.
Each expert will Predict and Preview where Action will be needed. These experts, 15 to 20 each year, have experience lobbying on the Front Lines in our General Assembly so they provide specific, ready-to-use advocacy/action messages. Not only do advocacy experts preview legislation but one or two Cabinet Secretaries come to describe important issues for the upcoming General Assembly session.
This annual meeting in December prepares us to visit our own legislators at home even before the General Assembly convenes in January.
Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne will be the first speaker to share his insights on the priorities and challenges of Governor Northam’s administration. After he speaks, about 20 speakers will each have about 5 to 7 minutes each to share their legislative priorities and concerns in the upcoming Session. Some areas that will be covered by the speakers are
elections, voting rights, transparency in government, education, women’s rights, gun violence prevention & public safety, healthcare, juvenile justice, transportation, and environmental issues.
Other Speakers include:
Brian Cannon One VA 2021
Chris Piper Commissioner of Elections
Walt Latham VRAV Voter Registrars Association of Virginia
Andy Goddard VACPS Virginia Center for Public Safety
Megan Rhyne VCOG Virginia Center for Open Government
Ashna Khana ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Kati Hornung VAratifyERA Campaign
Tarina Keene NARAL – Naral Pro Choice Virginia
Jill Hanken VPLC Virginia Poverty Law Center
Kim Bobo VICPP Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Chris Duncombe TCI The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis
Rhonda Thissen NAMI National Alliance of Mental Health of Virginia
Corrina Beall Sierra Club / VA Chapter
Danny Plaugher VTA Virginia Transit Association
Sylvia Rogers AAUW American Association of University Women
Brian Koziol Executive Director of Virginia Housing Alliance
Attend our breakfast and hear speakers from our partner organizations in the morning for $20.
A full day pass that includes breakfast, all day speakers and a plated lunch with a special presenter is $50.
If you wish to pay by check, just select that option and either bring a check for the exact amount made out to League of Women Voters of Virginia Education Fund or mail to
Treasurer, 804 Ridge Place, Falls Church, VA 22046.
This event, in addition to providing a lot of good information, also provides opportunities to meet with and network with others who share similar interests and concerns.
Voting is a start, but advocacy is now needed. And 2 opportunities wait for you.
1) Join Williamsburg Area League members who are going to Richmond on Wednesday, December 4 for the annual “PRE-SESSION” Legislative Round Table, from 9 am-3 pm (or just the morning) at the John Marshall Hotel. Get your tickets here. NON-BOARD MEMBERS are encouraged to go!
Learn more about issues that matter to YOU such as sensible gun safety legislation, election integrity, redistricting, mental health funding, passing the Equal Rights Amendment by hearing from numerous advocates from other organizations.
Carpooling will be available.
Breakfast and am session for $20 or all day with lunch for $40. Join in with fellow LWV members and others from around the commonwealth.
2) Williamsburg Area LWV member Christine Payne was asked to take a lead role in the LWV GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION GROUP and is asking our local League members who are interested in participating in this group to contact her at email@example.com so that she can arrange a conference call or meeting soon. Chris says, “The upcoming 2020 General Assembly session will focus heavily on Gun Violence Prevention and as League members, we can impact the legislative process.” Please join Christine to add your voice in reducing gun violence. Learn about the League’s gun violence position and how it aligns with proposed legislation in Virginia.
If you missed the League candidate forums on Wednesday and Thursday this week, you can read up on the coverage from the Gazette.
The article text is also included below.
By Jack Jacobs
James City County — Incumbents touted accomplishments and argued their experience made them well-suited to continue service, while challengers called for change and said they’re the best to make it happen during a candidates meet-and-greet event Thursday.
The candidates’ shared public appearance at the James City County government complex came as the second of two candidate meet-and-greets this month ahead of the Nov. 5 elections.
The event featured brief remarks by each of the candidates vying for Williamsburg-area offices and an opportunity for handshakes and one-on-one discussions with audience members afterward.
Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, touted his years of experience, accomplishments and seniority in the Senate in his argument on why he should be reelected.
Norment has been in the Senate since 1992. He said he’s been a driving force in containing the cost of public education and making Virginia a top state for business while in the Senate. He carried the legislation that recently delivered tax relief checks for Virginians. He noted he’s been able to work himself up to powerful positions — he’s the senate majority leader and co-chairman of the chamber’s finance committee — and has built relationships on both sides of the aisle.
“I have been able to lead, I have been able to deliver, and I would welcome your support and opportunity to continue to do that,” he said.
Trevor Herrin, the Republican candidate for the Roberts District seat on the James City County Board of Supervisors, said the county had faltered in business and job creation, affordable housing needs and oversight of development.
“This board has spent a great deal of time and money developing a comprehensive plan four years ago, and four years later we have failed to make much progress on that plan,” Herrin said.
If elected, Herrin would work to tackle those problems. He would work to make the county more business friendly, and said job creation is a priority. Herrin felt the county needs more affordable housing options for residents and that more should be done to preserve rural and historic lands.
The seat’s Democratic incumbent, Supervisor John McGlennon, painted a different picture of the county. He noted that in his tenure on the board, he’s worked successfully to improve the county and would look to continue his work if reelected.
”I’ve served on the Board of Supervisors for a while and I take great pride in what we’ve built,” he said.
McGlennon noted the county earned AAA bond ratings from all three major national rating agencies during his time in office. The county has also seen its parks and recreational department thrive. McGlennon said the county faces challenges related to population growth, but that he has a track record of weighing rezoning requests and questions of development carefully.
He also cast himself as an advocate for the community on the state level, too, saying he worked to encourage the changes to the Historic Triangle sales tax bill that excluded groceries from the tax.
Sean Gormus, an Independent candidate for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, wants to emphasize community engagement if elected.
Gormus has a background in the community side of policing thanks to his time as a school resource officer in James City County Police Department.
He said the sheriff’s office can do more than its current duties providing security in the courthouse and other tasks.
He voiced an interest in community outreach such as a mentorship program, and also felt the sheriff’s office should be more present at community events and should make itself more available to support local police departments in crisis situations.
“I feel like there’s so much more that our community deserves,” Gormus said.
David Hardin is also running for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, and he said experience would be key to success.
He has that experience as the office’s chief deputy and already has some familiarity with the duties of the office’s top job.
Hardin, a Republican, said law enforcement out in the community is handled well enough already by local police departments. He cast himself as a driving force behind the force’s accreditation and would work to maintain that if elected.
“We will continue to serve the citizens in our community,” he said.
Gerald Mitchell, a Democratic contender for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, would work to do more community outreach and provide greater transparency if elected.
The military policeman noted his leadership experience, both in small units and precincts. He said more training for deputies would be a focus if elected.
“I’m certain that we can, and that we will, do better,” Mitchell said.
Sheriff Danny Diggs wants to continue to serve as boss of York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office. He pointed to his years of experience in the job and accomplishments in that time as to why he should continue to be sheriff.
Diggs, a Republican, was elected sheriff in 1999.
He said that though York County’s population is up, crime is down, and that the community seems happy with how things are going. He said he has worked hard to maintain the agency’s accreditation and noted the variety of community outreach programs the agency offers.
“I enjoy serving as your sheriff and my deputies want to me to continue serving as sheriff,” Diggs said.
Scott Williams, who has experience in various roles as a Newport News police officer, wants to bring what he described as a culture change to the York-Poquoson sheriff’s office, one firmly rooted in community policing.
If elected, Williams would work to make deputies more of a presence in the community beyond doing the work of law enforcement. He said he would bring the public more fully into conversations about the agency’s future.
“I want to change the culture to a proactive, community-policing law enforcement agency,” Williams said.
The League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance sponsored the event.
Seven candidates participated in an informal meet-and-greet at Williamsburg Regional Library before meeting attendees later on. (Madeline Monroe/staff)
By Madeline Monroe
WILLIAMSBURG — Local candidates talked policy and cracked jokes at a meet-and-greet with voters Wednesday evening at Williamsburg Regional Library.
Seven candidates running for state and local offices spoke to a group of about 100 people at the first of two events sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and Greater Williamsburg Tourism and Chamber Alliance Business Council.
The night started with candidates introducing themselves before discussing policy.
Third Senate District Democratic candidate Herb Jones said his opponent had not taken care of resident’s healthcare needs, particularly for firefighters and first responders with cancer. For 96th House of Delegates District Democratic candidate Mark Downey, his experience as a physician led him to believe that mental health care services should be expanded.
“When I first started my practice, about 10% of my practice was mental health care,” he said. “Now it’s about 30%.”
Highlighting his record on Medicaid expansion, 93rd House of Delegates Democratic incumbent Mike Mullin praised Medicaid’s new enrollment of 330,000 low-income Virginians as an accomplishment.
“It’s making sure that almost 3,000 people here in the 93rd district have access to a doctor,” he said.
While talking with small business owners, 96th district Republican candidate Amanda Batten said they have trouble finding affordable health care for themselves.
As she knocked on doors to talk with constituents, Batten said she also learned that taxes which did not provide a perceived return on investment, such as the tourism tax, were viewed unfavorably.
“The widening of Interstate 64 is something where folks feel like they are receiving that return (from taxes),” she said.
For 93rd House of Delegates district Republican candidate Heather Cordasco, she said her goal is to make Virginia more business friendly and less taxing on constituents if elected.
“We must make sure that we keep our rainy day fund funded when times are good so that we can meet our promises and our responsibilities without immediately going to raise taxes,” she said.
On the topic of education, ensuring access to early childhood education should be a priority, Downey said.
“If people have a good foundation, then they’re less likely to drop out of school and more likely to attain higher education levels and be more successful adults,” he said.
In Mullin’s statement, he focused on raising pay for teachers. While he helped pass a 5% pay raise for teachers this year, he said legislators need to keep going. “We need to continue to at least get to the national average and hopefully exceed it.”
An advocate of common-sense gun reform, Mullin mentioned his co-sponsorship of universal background checks. Downey said addressing the link between mental health and gun deaths from suicide should also be a priority through red-flag laws. For Jones, nothing has been done to reduce gun violence in Virginia.
“Nothing has happened since Virginia Tech, and we had another incident (in Virginia Beach) this year.”
York County’s 1st District Board of Supervisors candidates discussed their backgrounds and spoke on local issues relating to education, inclusion, the economy, safety and York’s progress in those areas.
Challenging six-term Republican incumbent Walt Zaremba is Democratic candidate Dalila Johnson. After graduating high school in Colombia, South America, she came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Navy before working in banking.
“What we do here for the next couple of years, 10 years, is going to affect all of us,” she said.
As another veteran, Zaremba thanked Johnson for her service and noted his extensive service in the U.S. Army before he earned his law degree in 1992. Zaremba pointed to York’s achievements in education and safety and the county’s low tax rate during his tenure as supervisor.
“I still have spirit and desire and love for York County citizens to be their Board of Supervisor (representative) again,” he said.
Later in the evening, candidates mingled with citizens to discuss issues they cared about.
Cordasco, who voiced support for creating pathways for alternative education, said that at the meet-and-greet she had some conversations about her role in workforce development.
“I had someone come up to meet and didn’t know I was the one who brought Manufacturing Day to the county (schools),” she said.
When asked by a retired college professor if there was any one thing that he could fix, Jones responded that he would address issues in education. “I think early childhood education is key.”
Attendees approached Johnson about an idea she had shared to help make her district less isolated by creating a citizens’ council, she said, which would gather community leaders to solve problems alongside supervisors and make informing members of her district easier.
State and local elections aren’t as famous as presidential elections, but they have significant influence over our lives.
Look up your official voting locality and
make sure your registration is up-to-date
Ballots for this election vary based on your voting location, so it’s important to research your ballot before you go to the polls so you are prepared. The official place to check your ballot is on the elections website for your county or town.
Ballots for James City County and York County are included below. Find York County’s ballots on their site.
Virginia’s voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Go vote.elections.virginia.gov to begin the registration process or make sure you are up-to-date if you are already registered.
If you have a Virginia driver’s license or state ID card, you can register to vote completely online. If you are eligible but don’t have either of those cards, you can complete and print the application online and mail it in to your local or state election office.
Election day is November 5, 2019.
The League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance Business Council invite the public to “Candidate Meet-and-Greets” for these candidates (listed alphabetically) in contested races.
Wednesday, October 16, 7 pm, Williamsburg Regional Library, Scotland Street
- Virginia Senate, District 3: Herb Jones (Dem)
- Virginia House of Delegates, District 93: Heather Cordasco (Rep) and (Mike Mullin (Dem)
- Virginia House of Delegates, District 96: Amanda Batten (Rep) and Dr. Mark Downey (Dem)
Thursday, October 17, 7 pm, James City County Board of Supervisors Building F, Mounts Bay Road
- Virginia Senate, District 3: Tommy Norment (Rep)
- James City County Board of Supervisors, Roberts District: Trevor Herrin (Rep) and John McGlennon (Dem)
- Sheriff: Sean Gormus (Ind), David Hardin (Rep) and Gerald Mitchell (Dem)
The first portion of the “Meet & Greet” will give each candidate an opportunity to provide a 3-5 minute statement about their qualifications, goals, priorities, issues of importance and other personal content. Ground rules: the audience will be asked to refrain from applauding or demonstrating support or nonsupport of all candidates during this segment. No campaign materials, buttons, signs, etc. will be allowed inside the building.
Following these statements, members of the public in the audience will have an informal and casual opportunity to speak with the individual candidates.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate.
LWV-Williamsburg Area Fall Reception is today, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Hall in New Town.
Speaker: Chris Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. Hear the latest on election integrity in Virginia.
Our program BEGINS promptly at 4:30 p.m., so please arrive a bit early.
Wine & Cheese Reception will follow. No cost. New and interested members welcome.
If you are coming, don’t forget to RSVP by clicking here.
August 9, 2019
Dear Director Howard and members of the Virginia State Crime Commission,
As President of the League of Women Voters – Williamsburg Area, I write in support of several critical pieces of legislation regarding gun violence prevention. A super majority of Virginians support the concept of sensible gun reform and legislation.
We urge you to pass the following pieces of legislation on to the General Assembly for their serious consideration and vote:
– SB4019, which would close background check loopholes
– SB4012, which would implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Virginia
– SB2024, which would ban assault firearms equipped with high capacity magazines, bump stocks, or silencers
The public safety of Virginians is at stake. Having lived in the Commonwealth since 1999, I have witnessed the impact of the massacres at Virginia Tech and the recent gun violence in Virginia Beach and all those other less publicized incidents.
Please use your influence and political decision-making power to make a difference by boldly addressing this unprecedented challenge. You have an an opportunity to do the right thing for the people of our great Commonwealth.
Mary Schilling, President
League of Women Voters-Williamsburg Area