If it’s Friday, it’s got to be “Flip-A-District Friday,” courtesy of Del. Rip Sullivan’s Project Blue Dominion. This Friday, the focus is on David Zilles (HD23), Irina Khanin (HD29), Juanita Jo Matkins (HD56).
Flip-A-District Friday: Volume X
Welcome to Volume X of the 2019 Flip-A-District Friday series. We are down to 10 weekends left to canvass and call voters ahead of the November 5th election. Our campaigns have been working hard for months, but Labor Day is the traditional campaign kick-off day when voters — hopefully — start paying close attention. I hope you’ll take some time during this long weekend to help at least one Democratic House campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts.
Click here to read previous editions of Flip-a-District Friday to find a candidate that appeals to you.
House District 23
Meet the candidate: David Zilles
David Zilles lives in Lynchburg, where he is raising his two young children and working as a thermal fluids engineer. He grew up in a tight-knit military family in a small town in Ohio where he and his three siblings were surrounded by extended family. After graduating from The Ohio State University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering, David began his career and moved to Lynchburg in 2012.
David was compelled to action in February 2018 after one of the largest mass school shootings in U.S. history occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Today, David is running for a better Commonwealth for all, and is focusing on affordable healthcare, investing in education for our children’s future, and sensible gun reform.
House District 23:
The 23rd District is light red but its incumbent Delegate Scott Garrett (R), is retiring, making this race much more competitive. David will face Republican Wendell Walker in November.
The district includes parts of Lynchburg City, Bedford County, and Amherst County.Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we cannot let Walker win:
Walker is Chairman of the Lynchburg Republican Party, and has made it clear that as a lifelong member of the NRA, he “will NEVER vote to restrict…[the] right to keep and bear firearms.” He also proudly posted the photo below on July 9th.
If that date rings a bell, it’s the date of the Special Session on gun safety that was called by Governor Ralph Northam in response to the Virginia Beach mass shooting, yet another senseless tragedy in the epidemic of mass shootings across the country.
Walker said nothing about the shooting on social media, not even to offer his “thoughts and prayers.” Instead, he happily publicized a photo of him protesting“Governor Northam’s attempt to force unreasonable gun legislation through the General Assembly and onto law-abiding Virginians” as legislators gathered in Richmond for the Special Session.
Walker cannot even do the bare minimum by acknowledging when lives are needlessly cut short in Virginia, but he will drive four and a half hours round-trip to protest attempts to solve the problem alongside the NRA. Walker is on the wrong side of history, doesn’t come close to standing where the vast majority of Virginians do on gun safety reform, and we cannot let him win.
Contact the campaign here.
House District 29
Meet the candidate: Irina Khanin
Irina grew up in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States 30 years ago. She deeply understands the struggles of recently naturalized families trying to adjust to their new homeland, and is committed to making her community a more welcoming place for new families.
As an attorney raised in an authoritarian country where personal freedoms were severely limited and political dissent could lead to financial and personal devastation, Irina is concerned about preserving our constitutional rights. Having witnessed the Soviet government’s misuse of power, she has dedicated herself to ensuring that our government is focused on improving the lives of as many people as possible while guaranteeing citizens their rights.
The issues at risk in this election are personal for Irina. Soon after her family arrived in the United States, her father was diagnosed with cancer. Being told by the health insurance company that his cancer would not be covered as a pre-existing condition seemed unbelievably inhumane. Ever since, Irina has been focused on ensuring access to affordable healthcare for everyone. Her service on the Northwestern Community Service Board helped deepen her understanding of the behavioral health issues facing her community.
As a mother of two children enrolled in Winchester City Public Schools and a Board Member of the Winchester Education Foundation, Irina is committed to helping public schools succeed. She knows that there is no greater equalizer for economic opportunity than a quality public education, and is therefore in favor of a legislative agenda that supports public schools in their mission to meet every child’s needs. An educated population is also the key driver of economic success, as nothing attracts good-paying jobs better than an exceptionally educated workforce.
Committed to preserving democracy, Irina has worked as a voter protection attorney in three presidential campaigns, helping to ensure that every American vote is counted. In preparation for a leadership role, she spent 2017 studying with Emerge Virginia, an organization that trains future female candidates to be successful leaders.
House District 29:
The district usually swings Republican, but Irina is making sure incumbent Delegate Chris Collins (R) cannot coast. Irina has out-raised him five-fold this year, and is running a very engaging campaign. Collins has more cash-on-hand, however, so now is the time to jump in to help Irina.
The 29th District includes parts of Frederick County, Winchester City, and Warren County. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat Collins:
Collins has helped kill great proposals in subcommittee every year since he was first elected in 2015, and boosted bills like an extremely partisan ban on “sanctuary cities” in Virginia, which — for the record — do not exist. He also often votes the wrong way on the floor, sometimes breaking with his party on bipartisan proposals just to claim the more conservative ground.
– In 2016, Collins voted for a bill to block localities from raising the minimum wage within their own boundaries, and voted against a bipartisan bill to help curb the issue of over-punishment in K-12 education.
– In 2017, he voted for a bill to allow the concealed carry of switchblades, and voted against a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Barbara Favola to better train bar employees to recognize situations that may lead to a sexual assault.
– In 2018, Collins voted for a partisan bill meant to restrict the Governor’s ability to appoint Senators in case of a vacancy, and voted against Medicaid expansion.
– In 2019, he voted for a bill that would make it harder for students to participate in family life education programs, which includes subjects like sexual assault prevention, and voted against my bill, Jacob’s Law, to make it easier for same-sex couples to start or grow their family via surrogacy.
Collins might not be a bomb-thrower, but his outdated, extremely conservative views are out of touch in the 21st century.
Contact the campaign here.
House District 56
Meet the candidate: Juanita Jo Matkins
A former Louisa County teacher and professor at the College of William & Mary, Juanita Jo Matkins believes all Virginians deserve a fair chance. Juanita Jo has lived in the heart of the 56th District for much of her life, educating its young people and serving her community through her church and various volunteer organizations. She is committed to advocating for her neighbors in Richmond to ensure our state legislature serves the interests of every Virginian.
Growing up on a Greensboro, North Carolina tobacco farm, Juanita Jo learned the value of hard work and recognized the deep-seated inequality in her community. As a young woman, she was inspired by civil rights activists who protested segregation at the Woolworth lunch counter just a few miles from her home.
The first person in her family to attend college, Juanita Jo enrolled at Towson State College (now Towson University), earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts. She constructed costumes for the school’s Theater Department to help pay tuition and became a campus leader in the budding women’s rights movement.
Juanita Jo moved to Louisa County in the late 1960s to work on her family’s small horse farm. She trained and showed quarter horses as part of the farm’s breeding operation, reconnecting with her rural roots.
Always passionate about education, Juanita Jo began teaching elementary school in the early 1970s, first at Piedmont Christian School and later in Louisa County Public Schools. During her nearly 20-year career, she helped educate a generation of Louisa’s youth. In 1995. Juanita Jo earned the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.
Juanita Jo completed a Doctorate in Education at the University of Virginia in 1996 with a dissertation focusing on characteristics of women scientists. She served on the education faculty at UVA and George Mason University before earning a professorship at the College of William & Mary.
During her decade-long tenure in Williamsburg, Juanita Jo trained science teachers and administered millions of dollars in grant-funded projects. She retired from William & Mary as a full professor in 2015. Juanita Jo continues to serve as Chair of the Virginia Association of Science Teachers’ advocacy committee, which lobbies for improvements in K-12 science education.
Juanita Jo remains rooted in her beloved Louisa County. She is a member of the Louisa NAACP, sings in the county’s Spirit of Truth Gospel Choir, and is a trustee and organist at Yanceyville Christian Church. Juanita Jo’s commitment to fairness and a vibrant democracy inspired her to co-found Spread The Vote Piedmont, a local chapter of a national nonprofit that helps people overcome the obstacles to obtaining government-issued IDs for voting and to access other opportunities and services.
Juanita Jo and her husband, Don Short, former Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney, live in Yanceyville in southern Louisa County. They have one son, Andrew, a 2002 graduate of Louisa County High School.
House District 56:
The 56th District is light red, with Senator Tim Kaine taking 45 percent of the vote in 2018. It includes parts of Louisa, Henrico, Goochland, and Spotsylvania Counties. Incumbent Delegate John McGuire (R) has a fundraising advantage, but Juanita Jo is working hard to win over voters every day. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we must defeat McGuire:
McGuire is extremely conservative, especially when it comes to issues that disproportionately impact women. When he tweeted “celebrating” Women’s Equality Day — he wrote, “Isn’t it great we live in a country where a man or a woman can work hard & achieve just about anything.” But perhaps he has missed the abundance of data proving that “Virginia ranked 29th when comparing median earnings for women and men. As of 2017, Virginia’s women earned 79 percent of what Virginia’s men earned when comparing median earnings.”
McGuire also was an instrumental part of the successful Republican effort in a House subcommittee to kill the ERA. He seems to believe the preposterous idea that the “push for the ERA…appears to be a thinly disguised effort to remove any restrictions even on late-term abortions and to require taxpayers to pay for it.” This perspective is not only incorrect, but offensive. Clearly, McGuire has not been paying attention to Virginians, who overwhelmingly want the General Assembly to pass the ERA. A recent poll found that 81 percent of voters support the ERA, meaning a substantial number of self-identified Republican Virginians also endorse the amendment.
McGuire is either not listening to voters, or refusing to act on their behalf. It’s time for him to go.
Contact the campaign here.
That’s it for Volume X 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.