Home 2023 Elections Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume VI (Del. Dan Helmer, Del. Rodney Willett,...

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume VI (Del. Dan Helmer, Del. Rodney Willett, Lily Franklin, Stephen Miller-Pitts, Mady Rodriguez)


From Del. Rip Sullivan’s BLUE DOMINION PAC:

Welcome to the sixth edition of the 2023 Flip and Defend-A-District Series.

The Biden-Harris administration has announced a national monument to Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley. This comes during the same week Florida has established new standards for teaching — or not teaching — Black history.

The national outrage over Florida’s new guidelines for teaching race hits very close to home. What is happening in Florida is happening right here in Virginia. I wrote an Op-Ed about this that was published in the Roanoke Times last year. I encourage you to read it here.

Vice President Kamala Harris said it best, Let us not be seduced into believing that somehow we will be better if we forget,” she said. “We will be better if we remember. We will be stronger if we remember.” 

The candidates Project Blue Dominion features in our Flip and Defend-A-District series are the Democrats—incumbents and challengers—who Virginians need to elect to gain the majority in the House of Delegates. The stakes are high and the power to elect Democrats lies in your hands. It is the time, donations, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.

House District 75

Meet the Candidate: Stephen Miller-Pitts

As a combat veteran, father, educator, service-disabled small business owner, and community advocate, Stephen Miller-Pitts is a servant leader who always puts his nation, community, and family first. Eager to serve, Stephen finished basic training shortly after 9/11 and completed active duty deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Impacted by PTSD, he medically retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 and has since championed greater resources and services for military service members, veterans, and families.

For over two decades, Stephen has managed large-scale procurement and training operations in both the public and private sectors. Stephen leveraged his strategic planning and government relations expertise as a senior legislative aide in the Virginia House of Delegates, helping expand healthcare coverage to over 400,000 Virginians.

A proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Stephen serves as Chief of Staff to the organization’s International President and as an off-campus advisor for the Alpha Alpha Alpha Chapter at Virginia State University.

A first-generation college graduate who now teaches government at VSU, Stephen understands the importance of education and is dedicated to expanding opportunities so that every Virginian has the tools they need to succeed.

Stephen is a military spouse and raising three daughters in the Chester area. In his free time, he enjoys coaching the Hopewell Blue Devils football team, mentoring young people, and volunteering in the community. His exceptional service has earned recognition, including the prestigious Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award.

Stephen is a dynamic candidate, longtime public servant, and leader in the community with an established record of working for the people. For years, he has taken on powerful interests and isn’t afraid to fight for what is right. Stephen listens to local residents and will always make decisions based on what is best for the community.

About House District 75:

Virginia’s 75th House District is a competitive purple seat that includes part of Chesterfield County (most of Chester), Hopewell City, and parts of Prince George County.

Who Stephen is up against:

Despite attempts to paint herself as a moderate, incumbent Carrie Coyner votes in lockstep with the MAGA agenda. Coyner is bankrolled by big developers and Dominion Energy, opposes common-sense solutions to keep our air and water clean, and voted to take away Virginians’ abortion rights and access to birth control. We cannot trust Carrie Coyner.

Stephen’s commitment:

Stephen is driven by his commitment to the people of Virginia and will fight for everyone to have a chance to thrive. In the House of Delegates, Stephen will prioritize expanding access to quality, affordable health care, increasing opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and working to make our communities safer from gun violence. Stephen is building a top-notch campaign with support from local leaders, organizers, and experienced, effective Virginia-based campaign professionals. He is committed to raising the resources necessary to communicate his compelling story and message. His deep connections to the district, vast network, and forward-looking vision will resonate with the voters he needs to win.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 41

Meet the Candidate: Lily Franklin

Lily was born and raised in a working-class family in Roanoke County, Virginia, where she learned the value of hard work and resilience. She graduated from Northside High School and worked two jobs to put herself through college at Longwood University. After earning her degree, she joined Teach for America and taught in low-income Appalachian schools. Lily then focused her career working in the Virginia Legislature for Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke City) fighting for families in southwest Virginia. In Richmond, she learned to wrestle legislative victories to get work done for her neighbors. Lily used her platform to develop a bill-writing program that put local constituents in charge of the legislative process. As Chief of Staff for Delegate Rasoul, she helped write legislation that resulted in a grant program for local food and farming infrastructure, and championed a bill to establish maximum contaminant levels for the cancer-causing and deadly “forever” chemicals in drinking water.

Lily can put her proven record, established contacts, and in-depth knowledge of our Commonwealth’s government to work for southwest Virginia in this new district. As a delegate, she will work to ensure every child gets a world-class education, recent graduates can get good-paying jobs in their hometowns, working families have the resources they need to be healthy and successful, and seniors can afford to retire with dignity in their own homes. Lily understands the challenges people face in this community and will help find concrete solutions to move our Commonwealth forward.

About House District 41:

The newly drawn HD-41 is located in southwest Virginia and includes parts of Roanoke and Montgomery counties. This is an open seat with no incumbent, and the district is considered a battleground priority for the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

What is at stake:

In 2021, Republicans took back control of the House of Delegates with a 52-48 advantage and won the Governor’s race. With only a 2-vote Democratic majority in the State Senate, it is critical that Democrats retake control of the House of Delegates in 2023 to fight back against Governor Youngkin’s extreme agenda, which includes banning abortion, repealing environmental protections, and restricting voting rights. While 2021 was a challenging year, 2023 presents new opportunities for Democrats, specifically driving messaging around Youngkin’s proposed abortion ban. Picking up competitive open seats like HD-41 is essential to winning that majority. Every day between now and then is an opportunity to build a war chest and get Lily one step closer to victory in November. To support the best candidate to protect abortion rights, safeguard voting rights, and fully fund our schools, contribute to Lily’s campaign!

Who Lily is up against:

Lily’s opponent,  Chris Obenshain, is a far-right extremist disguising himself as a moderate. He’s gone on the record supporting a 15-week abortion ban, Youngkin’s tax cuts for the wealthy, and repealing criminal justice reform legislation.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute here: Here or Make checks out to Lily for Delegate P.O. Box 104 · Blacksburg, VA 24063-0104

House District 58

Meet the Candidate: Rodney Willett

*HD-58 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.

Born and raised in Virginia, Rodney Willett has spent his career helping government better serve its citizens. As an attorney, Rodney represented local governments in Virginia, helping them with land use, contractual, and constitutional matters. Through those engagements, he learned the positive impact that good governance could have for working families. Rodney went on to help start three technology companies which worked to improve government. Serving as president of Virginia Interactive, Rodney led a public/private partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia to move government information and citizen/business services online, increasing efficiency and transparency in state agencies and local governments. Rodney’s technology consulting companies have enabled government organizations to improve their operations and service delivery.

Rodney was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019 and re-elected in 2021. He has developed a record as one of the state’s most effective lawmakers. He lives in Henrico with his wife, Lydia, where they raised their three children.

About House District 58:

Virginia House of Delegates District 58 is a key hold for Democrats to retake the majority in 2023. In 2021, Rodney defeated Mary Margaret Kastelberg by less than 1,800 votes. The western Henrico area is trending blue overall but, with redistricting, Rodney’s seat moved 3.4 points to the right. This seat was flipped blue in 2017 after the District was controlled by Republicans for decades. This year, political newcomer Riley Shaia is running against him. As with previous cycles, she is expected to be one of the most well funded opponents in Virginia and bankrolled by outside Republican groups. Without a top of the ticket, it’s crucial that Rodney has the resources to mobilize Democrats and maintain high turnout. Virginia Democrats need to hold his seat to take back the House of Delegates. Rodney is counting on your support to keep Virginia blue.

Who Rodney is up against:

Delegate Willett’s opponent, Riley Shaia, is a mother and fitness instructor in the district. She is endorsed by Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares, and has received funding from extremists who support restricting abortion access like Senator Siobhan Dunnavant and Speaker Todd Gilbert. This is Riley’s first time running for office.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 32

Meet the Candidate: Mady Rodriguez

Mady is a 35- year resident of Winchester-Frederick County, home to House District #32. She is a product of Winchester Public Schools and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services from Walden University. Mady is raising her two daughters who are John Handley students, together with her husband of nearly 25 years, Hugo.

Mady’s professional service and community action includes:

 Employed by Valley Health as Discharge Planner in the care Management Department at Winchester Medical Center, drawing upon over 18 years in the medical field.

➢ ESL Coordinator at Laurel Ridge Community College

➢ Adjunct professor of first year students at Shenandoah University

 Over 25 years with Early Intervention ADA Resource Programs

➢ Winchester City Councilperson in 2022

➢ Winchester City Planning Commission as of 2023

➢ Board Member:

  • Congregational Community Action Project (C-CAP)
  • F&M Bank
  • Winchester Education Foundation
  • Opportunity Scholars
  • I’m Just Me Movement (Mentoring program)
  • Winchester Main Street Foundation
  • Celebracion Winchester
  • The Frederick Douglass Park Club-Family Day

Mady has dedicated her life’s work to the five foundations of her platform: Economic Empowerment, Education, Healthcare, Safe Neighborhoods, and Clean Environment. Mady is running because she is never tired of using her voice to impact change in the community.

About House District 32:

Geographically it now encompasses the entire City of Winchester- previously split into two Republican held districts as each half had been tied to larger, rural areas. The new 32 also added a large area to the east of I-81 including the Redbud District, and villages of Clearbrook and Stephenson, part of Stonewall District. These regions share much in common with the City of Winchester. District 32 still includes the full western half of Frederick County- Districts known as: BackCreek, Shawnee, and Gainesboro. The overall population is growing with more families from the NOVA region migrating over the mountain looking for affordability alongside quality of life issues such as healthcare, education, and clean environment. Mady’s message appeals to the demographic of the district. The new areas added to the District are located where Mady and Democrats have a strong base.

Who Mady is up against:

Failure of the Republican-led House of Delegates to pass a budget puts everything at risk that all Virginians hold dear, especially those finding appeal in Winchester and Frederick County. Public safety is a prime example of the insensitivity of her opponent and his party. Tying up the state’s purse-strings for important funding items such as proper training is not Pro-Law Enforcement or Anti-“defunding” police. Removing or decreasing taxes only means that the money is eliminated from somewhere else- including support for critical services. Mady has a proven track record of supporting the programs that keep our neighborhoods safe.

Mady’s opponent also claims to be pro-Veteran, but he has not done anything that actually serves the needs of veterans. Mady will continue to work for Veterans and ALL Virginians need for medical care and mental health access. And, like a majority of Virginians, Mady also supports the important healthcare issues of being pro-bodily autonomy and pro-gun control.

Supporting Mady for District 32 in 2023 presents a unique opportunity to flip a seat her opponent has kept stagnant since 2020. A unified City of Winchester and greater Frederick County region, particularly with the addition of the contiguous Northeast quadrant, can flip blue!

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 10

Meet the candidate: Dan Helmer

Dan is a West Point graduate, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve, a Rhodes Scholar, and a small business leader. He lives in Fairfax with his wife Karen, a public school teacher, and their sons Aaron and Harris, who attend Fairfax County Public Schools. The son of an immigrant and the grandson of refugees who survived the Holocaust, Dan believes that patriotism means taking on the hard challenges of our time and putting country and community ahead of partisan politics. As Vice Chair for Outreach for the House Democratic Caucus, Dan is helping fight to take back the majority in the House of Delegates.

Who Dan is up against:

Dan’s opponent is James Thomas, a former Trump Administration official and Marine veteran who lives in Fairfax Station. Given Thomas’ track record working for the Trump Administration, it is critical that Dan defeat him.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

That’s it for Volume VI of our Flip and Defend-A-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week until Election Day to share more about our great candidates. In the meantime, 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 take back the majority is on.




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