Flip-A-District Friday: Volume VII
Welcome to the seventh issue of our 2021 Flip a District Series
Democrats are running everywhere–in every corner of Virginia–and several of the candidates we feature this week are carrying our flag in some of the toughest places in Virginia for Democrats. But contrary to popular perception, there ARE Democrats in every corner of Virginia, and the progress we’ve made in the last two years is good for every Virginian. To be sure, we have a lot of work left to do–so let’s elect these great candidates to join (or remain part of) our majority in Richmond, so we can continue the effort to make this a better Commonwealth for all Virginians and their families.
Vote for them. Give to them. Work hard for them.
House District 25
Meet the candidate: Jennifer Kitchen
Jennifer is a lifelong rural Virginian running to represent the 25th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. For too long rural communities across the commonwealth have been devalued and ignored. Jennifer is prepared to go to Richmond to fight for the prioritization that all rural and marginalized communities deserve.
Rural broadband, healthcare access, and equitable funding for schools are just a few of Jennifer’s priorities. As a Community Organizer, Jennifer has fought for Medicare for All, Common-Sense Gun Legislation, Immigrant Rights, and Criminal Justice Reform.
Jennifer currently works as a program mentor for the Arc of Augusta, where she helps develop programming and supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It boils down to this: Democrats have been losing, usually severely, in rural districts across the country for decades. As long as Republicans can count on wins in these seats, they’re always going to have a lot of power in this country. That means we will always struggle to get progressive causes, like healthcare for all, fighting the climate crisis, and a high minimum wage, through the state legislatures and Congress.
Democrats need to figure out how to win these rural districts. If one candidate can make a breakthrough and flip a seat, then they could create a blueprint for how to flip rural seats all over the country.
That’s precisely what Jennifer is doing. She is using her hard-won knowledge of the 25th District, combined with her organizing experience and cutting-edge campaign strategies, to create a national movement to flip the 25th District blue.
We have a tremendous opportunity to get on track toward winning back rural America, but we have to show the world that we have enough support to make it happen.
Contact the Campaign: here
House District 26
Meet the candidate: Bill Helsley
Bill is a respected leader, a trusted advocate, a self-made small business man, and a proven champion for the Shenandoah Valley. Bill has lived his whole life in the district except for his years spent at William and Mary on a D1 athletic scholarship and University of Richmond Law School on a merit scholarship. In his 36 year legal practice Bill has won many awards for his outstanding work in the community including being named a Top Attorney in Virginia and a Super Lawyer. Bill has also received awards for the volume of free legal services he provides in the community by Blue Ridge Legal Services. Bill was endorsed by his local BAR Association for a Circuit Court judgeship with over 2/3rds of the vote. The first Democrat in a quarter of a century to receive the endorsement from the majority Republican institution. Bill started 3 farms in Rockingham County where he raised angus influenced beef cattle and chickens. Bill taught Criminal Law at James Madison University and held leadership positions in the local Democratic Party, BAR Association, and Lion’s Club.
Bill has deep ties in this community. Whether as a lawyer, farmer, business owner, or leader, a lot of people know and trust Bill in the 26th District. Due to his great breadth of experience and the sheer number of people he has helped in the community, Bill has an easier time persuading folks of differing political beliefs to support his candidacy.
House District 26:
The 26th District is one of the top battleground seats in the House of Delegates. The district encompasses Harrisonburg City, James Madison University, and Rockingham County. Tim Kaine won the district in 2018 and our previous Democratic candidate came close to flipping the district in the last two elections.
Delegate Tony Wilt has been in office for 10 years and in that time he’s voted against Medicaid Expansion, against funding our schools, and against driver’s privilege cards for undocumented families. The things he’s voted FOR are even worse. Tony ignored the needs of his constituents on crucial infrastructure improvements like I-81 and rural broadband for too long. The residents of HD26 are ready for change.
House District 85
Meet the candidate: Alex Askew
Alex was born in Virginia Beach and raised here by his mother, a public school teacher. He came up through the Virginia Beach public education system, including Tallwood High School, before attending Hampton University. After graduating, he worked for nearly seven election cycles on a variety of local, state-wide, and national campaigns and projects. He formerly served as a Chief of Staff for the Virginia House of Delegates, guiding elected officials towards tangible solutions. During his time as a Chief of Staff, he helped craft groundbreaking legislation — including workforce development programs, Medicaid expansion, affordable housing expansion, and school safety initiatives.
In his first term as the Delegate for the 85th District, his office had 14 bills signed into law — 11 of which received overwhelming bipartisan support. Some of these bills include expanding workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters, implementing a lead-water testing process in all public schools and daycares across the Commonwealth, and creating the very first dedicated source of funding for Hampton Roads Transit.
House District 85:
Delegate Alex Askew is currently running for re-election in Virginia’s 85th District. HD-85 is located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is entirely in the independent city of Virginia Beach. The Virginia Beach area was historically a Republican stronghold — but Democratic vote performance grew in Virginia Beach during the Trump presidency. Biden carried Virginia Beach in 2020, and this was the first time since 1964 that the city had voted for a Democrat at the presidential level. However, in the same year, Jody Wagner, a Democrat, was defeated in her bid for Mayor, losing to Republican Bob Dyer.
Delegate Askew was first elected to represent the district in 2019, beating Republican Rocky Holcomb 51-48 with a margin of 802 votes. His predecessor, Cheryl Turpin (D), broke a Republican stronghold on the district with her election in 2017. Del. Askew’s 2019 race cost approx. $1.2-million. This cycle, we are building to a $1.5-million budget — which accounts for the increased costs of advertising.
Just one example of why we must defeat Alex’s Republican opponent, Karen Greenhalgh:
Karen Greenhalgh has declared her candidacy as Delegate Askew’s only Republican opponent. Karen is a small business owner in Virginia Beach who has been a long-time member of the Virginia Beach Republican Women’s Club. She has previously expressed anti-mask, pro-Trump, anti-choice views on her public platforms, but recently scrubbed her website and Facebook. It’s clear that she is working to reach right-wing district voters.
Contact the Campaign: here
House District 75
Meet the candidate: Roslyn Tyler
Delegate Roslyn Tyler was elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2005. She was born and raised in Emporia, Virginia, graduating from Greensville County High School. She went on to earn a BS in Biology from Virginia State University, a BA in Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University, and an MS in Education from Virginia State University.
She has served as Clinical Coordinator of Physical Therapy at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center for over 20 years. Roslyn is a member of the Virginia Physical Therapist Association, organizes the 75th District Gospel Choir, and serves on the Head Start Advisory Committee and the Smart Beginnings Board of Directors. She has also received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Hard Rock Award from Virginia Education Association and the Grade A Award from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
She chairs the Education committee and serves on the Agriculture Chesapeake and National Resources and Appropriations committees.
Delegate Roslyn Tyler has sponsored and voted for various pieces of legislation that will help Virginia families. Recently, she co-sponsored successful legislation (HR 987) which updated agriculture nuisance provisions of Virginia’s Right to Farm Act. The Act prohibits nuisance lawsuits against farmers by protecting them against false claims of nuisance and unfair judgements.
Recently, Del. Tyler has worked with the Democratic majority to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. They have also expanded Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of residents and raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Thanks to Del. Tyler and her colleagues, Virginia is leading the way in the South for a more progressive future. Read more on Roslyn’s website.
On The Issues
A good quality education, regardless of a student’s zip code, has always been one of Roslyn’s priorities. She was the first child in her family to attend a university and earn a degree. Realizing that growing up in an area with limited opportunities, education was the key to living a quality life and earning a decent salary to raise a family, she has served on the state education committee for 10 years. Delegate Tyler currently serves as Chair of the Education Committee in the House of Delegates.
Roslyn will continue to support funding for early childhood education, from pre-k to higher education. She will also work to expand career and technical education opportunities, maintain affordability for higher education and increase teacher salaries.
Jobs and Economic Development:
Roslyn supported legislation that would increase the minimum wage, as well as measures to help women get equal pay for equal work. She also supported the decision to expand funding for Governor Ralph Northam’s Opportunity Fund, which will help to bring new jobs and businesses to Virginia. As Vice Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council, Delegate Tyler led the charge to pass legislation to stimulate the economy by expanding access to broadband internet to rural Virginians, job seekers, and business owners.
Roslyn believes everyone deserves the right to have access to affordable and quality health care. As a healthcare provider, she realizes that some families must make a choice between buying health care insurance and paying their rent or refilling their prescriptions. These are reasons she continues to support affordable healthcare coverage, affordable prescription drugs, assistance for family caregivers, and succeeded in raising wages for CNAs in her District.
Agriculture and Forestry Industry:
Agriculture and forestry is the largest industry in Virginia, and in the 75th district, which is more than 75% rural, the industry plays an even larger role. The industry has an economic impact of over $70 billion annually and provides more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. For this reason, Roslyn continues to be a strong supporter and advocate for the agriculture and forestry industry.
Why This Race Is Important
In just four years, Democrats have seen an impressive and almost unprecedented swing to majority, with more than 20 seats gained over two election cycles. With gains so recent, Republicans are eager to take advantage of this dynamic, where characteristically moderate “bellwether” districts ebb and flow to give way to national political trends, waiting for the pendulum to swing back in their favor. The 2021 House of Delegates elections are sure to be a test of Democrats’ ability to hold Trump Era gains in a post-Trump climate.
House District 86
Meet the candidate: About Irene Shin
A resident of downtown Herndon, Irene Shin has been involved in public service in Virginia since 2014. Irene currently works as Executive Director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, a nonprofit organization that organizes communities to increase civic education and engagement across the Commonwealth, especially in communities of color.
Irene is the daughter of Korean immigrants, and was raised in southern California. Her father is a small business owner, and her mother is a homemaker and a home caretaker for those with health problems who require assistance to live independently. Irene went to a state university on a scholarship and paid her way through college by waiting tables.
When Irene was 16, her father had a serious health problem, but her family did not have health insurance. After meeting obstacle after obstacle and an unaffordable health care system that was impossible to navigate, Irene’s father was forced to fly to Korea to seek treatment. Upon landing in Seoul, he was given immediate care, was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and the next morning was in life-saving surgery. This kind of immediate care is still unavailable to many in Virginia. Irene knows how the problems with our healthcare system affects families. When she ran for office in 2021, protecting and expanding our healthcare system was her top priority.
Irene believes that government should serve all of us, and we need to make it work better for families across the 86th District and across our Commonwealth. Irene is dedicated to making sure that everyone in Virginia can live in dignity, and that the services our government provides are run safely, efficiently, and effectively.
House District 86
The 86th District seat is currently an open seat. It consists primarily of Herndon and includes parts of Sterling and Chantilly. We are mostly in Fairfax county with a couple of precincts in Loudoun county. HD86 is often thought of as reliably blue, however the district was only flipped from Red to Blue in 2015 by now-Senator Jennifer Boysko. There is still work to be done to secure the district as a democratic stronghold. Irene would be proud to represent a district that is 41% foreign-born and looks forward to representing this diverse and welcoming community in Richmond.
Just one example of why we cannot let Julie Perry win:
Julie Perry is an extreme right-wing candidate who is out of touch. Earlier this month, she compared the experience of conservative teachers to being a Jew in the Holocaust. When Governor Northam recently recommended masks be required in all schools, Perry called it “child abuse.” Perry opposes everything we have fought for over the years including LGBTQ protections, reproductive freedoms, voting rights, and COVID19 safety measures.
Contact the Campaign: here
House District 59
Meet the candidate: Ben Moses
Dr. Ben Moses is running for Delegate to continue putting service ahead of partisan politics.
Ben served as a U-S Army Battalion Surgeon overseeing the care of 2,000 wounded service members, making sure they got the health care they earned. Now, he’s an ICU doctor and Anesthesiologist in Central Virginia and has been on the frontline fighting COVID. Dr. Moses will fight for paid time off for people who are sick or to help care for a loved one without fear of losing their job. He’ll work to help families afford childcare, so parents can work knowing their children are safe. These are basic securities that families, parents, and workers deserve.
Dr. Ben Moses has never asked a patient if they were a Republican or Democrat; he just got to work helping them. That is what he will do in Richmond, and he will work with both parties to lower health care costs and help local businesses recover.
House District 59:
Virginia’s 59th district is one of the most beautiful in the state, touching five counties: Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Campbell, and Nelson. This district is also one of the largest and most rural house districts in Virginia. The District is home to a vibrant community of farmers, teachers, firemen, veterans, students, nurses, doctors, and small business owners who have real needs from our leaders in Richmond. And for many, those needs aren’t being met.
That’s why we need strong leadership in the 59th — and when Ben is elected, he will advocate for and listen to the voices of my constituents.
Just one example of why we must defeat Delegate Fariss:
Delegate Matt Fariss is a 10-year Republican incumbent who holds one of the worst health care records in the House of Delegates. Fariss was the only person in the entire House of Delegates – Republican or Democrat – to vote against capping the price insurance companies can charge for life-saving drugs like insulin. If we don’t flip this district, rural communities will be at the mercy of an extreme Republican incumbent who has shown Virginia time and again he will vote to take away our healthcare and put live-saving prescriptions out of arm’s reach for families needing them most.
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.
Project Blue Dominion is committed to supporting Democratic candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth. Join us. The fight to defend and expand our majority is on