Accomack County & Northampton County Democratic Committees
The March ACDC meeting was a busy and eventful evening. We are gearing up for the Nov. 2019 elections and candidates are already visiting and getting to know the members.
The regular April ACDC Meeting will be at 6 pm on April 3rd at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Building, 19056 Parkway Road, Melfa, VA 23410. Click here for map to meeting address. The committee normally meets on the First Wednesday of each Month @ 6 pm. Check out the ACDC website and the Facebook Page.
The March NCDC meeting featured Sen. Lynwood Lewis who always enjoys being with the Northampton County Virginia Democratic Committee. Lewis had a wonderful time catching up with Committee members and going over the legislative successes and hurdles of the 2019 General Assembly Session. Great turnout for a deep dive into the 2019 General Assembly Short Session & the Virginia budget.
The next Northampton County Democratic Committee Meeting will be on April 2. The featured guests for the meeting will include Sheriff David Doughty, who is running for re-election as County Sheriff and Phil Hernandez, candidate for Delegate HD 100.
The April meeting will be held at 7 pm on April 2nd at the Northampton Social Services Building, 5265 The Hornes, Eastville, VA 23347. Click here for map to meeting address. Normally the NCDC meets on the First Tuesday of each Month @ 7 pm. Check out the NCDC website and the Facebook Page.
Also of interest to Northampton County voters are recent announcements that the supervisors of two voting districts will not be seeking re-election this year.
What do the local Democratic Committees do? The purpose of both the Accomack and Northampton County Democratic Committees is to elect Democratic candidates to public office and to expand the Democratic electorate. Local committees are the backbone of the state and national Democratic Party. Democratic candidates rely on local committees for many tasks, including registering voters, contacting voters, getting out the vote and staffing the polls on Election Day. These grassroots efforts are essential to the election of Democrats and expanding our electorate.
Your local Democratic Committee serves as the bridge between grassroots activists and our candidates and officeholders, providing the organizational voice and support it takes to win elections. The role of the party and its leaders has evolved to include helping coordinate our candidates’ campaign efforts with the Democratic Party of Virginia not only during the traditional campaign season, but also through year-round party building and organizational activities and direct candidate services.
There are two levels of Committee Membership: Voting Member and Supporting Member. Voting Membership is for those who can attend meetings and be involved quite regularly. Supporting Membership is for those who can only ocasionally be involved in our activities, but wish to support the Committee.
Accomack Democrats Welcome Phil Hernandez in Onley - The multi-talented Al McKegg kicked off the Phil Hernandez campaign event in a way that brought both joy and goosebumps. The Onley event was the second of two wonderful, well-attended campaign events in Accomack County that evening. Phil sends his gratitude to everyone for coming out and talking about the future we want to build as a community on the Shore. The Times They Are A-Changin'.
Some Notes From the Chincoteague Kick Off Event
Democrat Phil Hernandez kicked off his campaign for the House of Delegates on the Eastern Shore of Virginia this week with three stops, in Chincoteague, Onley and Cape Charles. A very special "Thank You" to Accomack County 3rd Vice Chair Lisa LaMontagne for her time and efforts arranging the events!
Hernandez, an attorney with the National Employment Law Project, is challenging Robert S. Bloxom Jr., the Republican incumbent, for the 100th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. The 100th District includes the Eastern Shore and part of Norfolk.
"People ask me why is it that you are running. To me, elections are fundamentally about the future — where we want to go, how we want to get there — and I want to help build a future that includes everyone, that opens up opportunities for everyone; but we can only do that if we come together as a community," Hernandez told attendees at the Chincoteague event.
Hernandez was born and raised in the Hampton Roads area and was the first in his family to graduate from college; he graduated with a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary. He earned his law degree from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2016.
He served in the Obama White House as a senior policy analyst on the Domestic Policy Council for nearly four years. While in law school, he represented low-income families facing eviction. During this time, he developed a legislative proposal aimed at preventing homelessness in California. The resulting bill, AB 2819, was signed into law in 2016.
Hernandez spoke to the Chincoteague group about priorities for the district. "I want to be the hardest-working public servant that you have ever seen to represent this community," Hernandez said, adding "I want to bring energy, I want to bring urgency, to solve some of the problems that we have here, because frankly, I think that is what is required.
Education, including problems with teacher retention in Accomack County, was among the issues about which Hernandez spoke. "We have teachers who live here in the county, who send their children to schools here in Accomack County, and then drive across the border to Maryland, where teacher pay is about 20 percent higher, on average. We've got to do more to attract and retain that teacher talent here in this community," he said.
Hernandez also talked about climate change and energy. "Coastal Virginia, if you look at all the places in the country, is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change, to rising sea level, to stronger storms — and we absolutely have to do something about that," he said, calling for a push for more energy to come from renewable sources.
Thirdly, Hernandez spoke about the Equal Rights Amendment. Virginia could be the 38th, and final state needed, to ratify the amendment. "Some issues are hard. That does not strike me as one that should be difficult to get done. It is 2019; 100 years ago we passed another Constitutional amendment in 1919, the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. We should absolutely be able to vote on equal rights for all genders in the year 2019 — that shouldn't be controversial," he said.
In the short 2019 General Assembly session, 100th District Del. Rob Bloxom has mostly been on the absolute wrong side of issues that affect and are very important to citizens of the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, this is a pattern with Bloxom - he rarely gives a full and accurate account of his position on policies and his reports to constituents are vague and misleading.
As for the teacher pay and education-related issues, it was my understanding that there was a last minute a dispute over whether the House would agree to budget amendments signed off on by a group of negotiators from both bodies. That House dispute actually extended the session by one day. Those amendments which the Republican-controlled House tried to block included language to give Virginia public school teachers a five-percent pay raise starting in September, more money to hire school counselors statewide, and a $87 million increase in funding for K-12 schools.
Democrats in the General Assembly were able to make progress in important areas like eviction prevention and reduction, school safety, protecting the environment, and economic development. And the Governor’s budget reflected a number of the administration’s priorities including K-12 education and teacher salaries, higher education, affordable housing, and broadband.
In summary, Democrats accomplished increased funding for public schools, bi-partisan measures on coal ash recycling, and legislation to address eviction rates as a few legislative successes in 2019 despite being the minority party. Meanwhile Republicans, who control the majority in both chambers, counted wins in tax conformity, school safety initiatives and a package of bills dealing with health care costs among their accomplishments.
The 2019 legislature did pass an absentee voting; no-excuse in-person bill that will go into effect in Nov. 2020. Casino gambling took a step closer to becoming a realty in Virginia.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) will review key components of allowing gaming in Virginia and report by to lawmakers by November.
Bloxom's response to the teacher pay raises was that it seems foolish to create new programs or raises based on the increased revenues from tax conformity. The issue for Bloxom is the Trump federal tax cuts are responsible for the budget windfall and he would rather see Trump get all the credit instead of Virginia Schools and teachers benefitting.
It is also worth noting that Bloxom was against Virginia being the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment despite both the Accomack and Northampton County Boards of Supervisors having passed resolutions in support of ratification. Del. Bloxom stated in a meeting in Cape Charles organized by the League of Women Voters that he could easily be swayed (meaning that he would not support the ERA ratification) by The Family Foundation if they made abortion the issue as they did.
Truthfully, the 2019 General Assembly was mostly defined by what was not accomplished. Although it passed the Senate, ratification of the equal rights amendment failed once again in the House of Delegates. The House and Senate could not come to final agreement on a "Hands Free Driving Law.” Republicans once again blocked gun control efforts from meaningful votes in either chamber, to which Republicans said they are protecting Second Amendment rights. Efforts to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana and increase the minimum wage in Virginia were defeated again in 2019.
Many of the hot button issues debated in the 2019 session will be used by both parties ahead of November elections, when every member of both the House of Delegates and the Senate are up for re-election.
Two important bills passed by the 2019 General Assembly
SB 1026 Absentee voting; no-excuse in-person available beginning on second Saturday immediately preceding election. Allows for any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in person beginning on the second Saturday immediately preceding any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making prior application for an absentee ballot. The bill makes absentee voting in person available beginning on the forty-fifth day prior to the election and ending at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. The bill retains the current provisions for voting an absentee ballot by mail or in person prior to the second Saturday immediately preceding the election, including the application requirement and the list of statutory reasons for absentee voting. The provisions of the bill do not become effective until the November 3, 2020, general election, and the State Board of Elections is required to submit a report on the procedures and instructions it promulgates for conducting absentee voting pursuant to the provisions of the bill. Bill history.
SJ306 - Establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a 16-member Commission tasked with establishing districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly. The Commission consists of eight legislative members and eight citizen members. The legislative members consist of four members of the Senate of Virginia and four members of the House of Delegates, with equal representation given to the political parties having the highest and next highest number of members in their respective houses. The citizen members are selected by a selection committee consisting of five retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia. The selection committee is tasked with adopting a process by which registered Virginia voters may apply to serve on the Commission and selecting from the applicants a list of 16 candidates. The amendment requires four of the candidates to be voters who affiliate with the political party receiving the highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, four candidates to be voters who affiliate with the political party receiving the next highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, and eight candidates to be voters who do not affiliate with any political party. Bill history.
And in an issue related to redistricting, the Virginia racial gerrymandering case returns to Supreme Court . The issue of gerrymandering will be front and center at the US Supreme Court in March. First, on Monday March 18, the justices will once again tackle another thorny issue: accusations of racial gerrymandering, the idea that legislators relied too much on race during redistricting. Then, on March 26, the justices will tackle two of the highest-profile cases of the term, involving partisan gerrymandering – the idea that state officials went too far in considering politics when redistricting, by drawing maps that favor one political party at another’s expense. The events giving rise to Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill began back in February 2011, when Virginia’s General Assembly received new data from the 2010 census and started to draw a new map for the state’s House of Delegates. The final map included 12 districts in which 55 percent of the voters were African-American. More on this...
Ronnie E. Holden will seek election to the District 8 seat on the Accomack County School Board in November. The retired University of Maryland Eastern Shore administrator has served on the board in an appointed position for about 28 years. This will be the first election for school board members since a referendum to change the way board members are selected was approved by voters nearly two years ago.
Holden is a native of the Shore and describes himself as a “product of the Accomack County Public School System.” He also got an associate degree in business administration from the Eastern Shore Community College, a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Tech, an MBA from Salisbury University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Maryland College Park.
He holds the vice chairman’s spot on the board but has also served as chairman several times. In a prepared statement, Holden said during his time on the board four elementary schools and two middle schools were built and two 1960s elementary schools were renovated. He also took credit for being instrumental in recommending that a division swim team be formed and that upgrades to several schools be made. “During his tenure, the academic and student service enhancements have been continually made to ensure the maximum support for all students and enabling the accreditation of all schools,” the statement said. “My experience, education, and professional demeanor will continue to be an asset to the Accomack County School Board, and will continue to allow me to serve my community,” Holden said.
James A Lilliston Sr., of Melfa, has announced candidacy for Treasurer of Accomack County. Lilliston has worked for the Treasurers Office in Accomack since 2005. James has been married to his wife, Tysheia Lilliston, for 22 years and has been blessed with 5 children and 4 grandchildren. He is an active member of Burtons Independent Methodist Church, where he serves on the Trustee Board and assists with the church finances. James is a 1991 graduate from Nandua High School, as well as a 1997 graduate of the Eastern Shore Community College, where he obtained a degree in Business Management with a specialization in Computer Information Systems.
During his 14-year tenure working for the Treasurer’s Office, James has completed a variety of duties to assist Accomack County and its citizens. While James’ main duty has been the collection of taxes, he has also assisted in providing tax invoices to all the towns in Accomack county at the year’s end.
Twice a year, James Lilliston Sr. has been active in partnering with the Accomack County Health Department in sponsoring a rabies clinic to ensure that all dog owners have the opportunity to purchase their license. James has made sure to not stay stagnant in his position, but to continue learning and improving so that he could better serve his community. James has traveled to Virginia Beach and Richmond, Va, completing several Deputy Treasurer Classes that have better prepared him to obtain the position of Treasurer of Accomack County.
Shaun Brown, a former candidate for Virginia's Second Congressional District, who was convicted of fraud is now facing three years in prison.The federal prosecutor called her a public menace, the judge said she showed no remorse, and now Shaun Brown will soon head to prison. “Had she shown remorse, she probably would have gotten a sentence between 12 and 15 months,” said defense attorney James Ellenson on Wednesday outside the Norfolk federal courthouse.
A jury found Brown, 60, guilty of overstating numbers in a summer feeding program, in order to get fraudulent reimbursement from the US Department of Agriculture. Brown had little to say and let her attorney speak afterward. “She never did anything criminal, she’s never done anything wrong her whole life,” Ellenson said.
At trial the government said the amount of fraud totaled nearly $500,000, but Judge Henry Morgan reduced it to $90,000 because that was all records could show. That determination reduced the maximum sentencing guideline from nine years to 57 months. Morgan said he considered her lack of any prior criminal record in giving her 36 months. Brown told the judge that her attorney sold her out, but she appeared by his side afterward. “Shaun and I have had differences in trial strategies since day one,” Ellenson said. “So it’s OK.”
Brown attended the Ivy League school Brown University, the London School of Economics, and Oxford University. Norfolk pastor Nathan Butler worked with Brown on the program to feed underprivileged kids, and spoke on her behalf. “There’s a whole bunch of other things you can do with her level of intelligence rather than to be criminal. Maybe she made some mistakes.”
In addition to three years active prison time, Morgan ordered a year of house arrest, three years of probation and $90,000 in restitution. Despite the conviction and sentence, Brown maintains she is 100 percent innocent. She plans to appeal.
Brown had her name removed from the ballot for the 2nd District Congressional election last September. The ruling came after the Democrats filed a lawsuit accusing Scott Taylor's campaign staff of forging signatures to help get her on the ballot. An investigation into that accusation is still ongoing at this time.
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia Beach, is spearheading new legislation introduced recently that would boost federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that’s been working since 1983 to restore the estuary. Bill co-sponsors are Virginia Reps. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, and Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, as well as John Sarbanes, a Democrat in Maryland’s 3rd District.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are leading the same effort in their chamber. Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have consistently championed bay restoration and fought to keep federal funding.
In announcing the bill, Luria called on Congress to “stand up for the bay. We want to keep it clean and thriving for future generations,” Luria said.
Congress has given the bay program $73 million annually for the past several years, largely under annual appropriation bills. But the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act would far surpass that, at $90 million for fiscal year 2020, $90.5 million for 2021, $91 million for 2022, $91.5 million for 2023 and $92 million for 2024.
It also would rebuff ongoing but, so far, failed efforts by the Trump administration to either gut federal funding for the program by 90 percent or kill it entirely. President Donald Trump has said the cost of cleanup should be borne by bay states, not federal taxpayers.
Wittman and other co-sponsors tout the bay not just as a regional economic engine but as a “national treasure.” Cleanup efforts by states and localities in the 64,000-square-mile watershed have led to significant improvements in bay health, he said, and “we are seeing better water quality, more rockfish and more blue crabs. Without continued collaboration among stakeholders and federal support,” Wittman said, “progress in the bay is threatened.”
Scott called the CBP a “vital tool in restoring the bay,” while Sarbanes said the bill is a chance to make a “critical investment” in ensuring restoration continues for the sake of generations to come. Scott and Wittman are co-chairmen of the Congressional Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force.
Prominent local leader Willie Randall – a U.S. Army veteran and longtime financial adviser – recently announced his plans to seek the 6th Senatorial Democratic Nomination for the Virginia State Senate. Randall seeks to unseat current state senator and fellow Democrat, Lynwood Lewis. The 6th District includes the northern half of Norfolk, Mathews County, the Virginia Eastern Shore’s Northampton County and Accomack County, and a small section of Virginia Beach.
“I didn’t make this move lightly,” Randall said. “We need change in Richmond. The Sixth District needs bold, new, progressive leadership, a senator who’s more in tune with the hopes and dreams, the struggles and the hardships that today’s families are facing. On issue-after-issue, I believe I’m more aligned with Democratic voters and have a better idea of their thoughts and concerns. This isn’t personal,” Randall continued. “This is all about the hardworking men and women and the families of the Sixth District who deserve more and deserve better.”
Randall’s unique background and experience – including a life forged by overcoming adversity – have made him perfectly suited to tackle the stark and often complex challenges facing the Commonwealth today. A primary to determine the democratic nominee has not yet been set.
As State Senator, Randall will work diligently to:
A new poll of likely 2019 General Election voters in Virginia’s battleground State Senate and House of Delegates districts shows that despite the turmoil involving Democratic state leaders, the fundamentals of these competitive districts are quite strong for the Democratic Party. Democrats are not demoralized by the news out of Richmond. Instead, excitement among the Democratic Party’s rank-and-file exceeds that of Republicans, and Republicans must still contend with negativity toward Donald Trump that led to big legislative gains for Democrats in 2017. The Democratic Party has clear advantages on the issues that do matter to these battleground district voters – education, health care, choice – and it’s legislative candidates are positioned strongly for success in November. Key survey findings can be found below:
The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group and commissioned by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, surveyed 600 likely General Election voters in 34 battleground State Senate and House of Delegates districts from February 19-21, 2019. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 4.0%.
Just as in 2017, when Democrats made big gains in the legislature, Democratic enthusiasm eclipses the Republicans. Democrats across the battlegrounds are much more excited to vote in November (40% very excited) than Republicans (only 27% very excited).
Voters do not connect recent scandals among Democratic officials to legislative candidates and they will have little impact in these competitive districts. A large majority (over 68%) in the battlegrounds say that the Democratic scandals will make no difference in their vote for state legislature. Voters who say that they will be less likely to vote for Democrats because of the scandals are mainly Republican voters (36%), with very few Democrats (8%) and independents (12%) saying they will be less likely to vote for Democrats because of the scandals. Furthermore, far more Democrats say they are “excited to vote for Democrats in November to send more new faces to Richmond to change the Democratic Party for the better (78%) than that they are “not that excited to vote in November because of all the scandals involving Democrats this year” (only 14%).
Trump remains a big problem for Republicans. Trump is very unpopular in battlegrounds (41% favorable/53% unfavorable) and toxic among Democrats (-85 net favorable) and independents (-35 net favorable). As many say it is more important “to elect Democrats to the state legislature to stand up to Trump” (45%) as say it is important “to elect Republicans to be a check on scandal-plagued Democratic leaders in Virginia state government” (42%). This includes the larger number of independents (+12 Democrats).
Democrats are right on the issues that matter most. In an environment where the Democratic scandals will be a minor factor in the state legislative campaigns, the Democratic Party holds advantages on the key issues that do motivate voters.
Education and public schools are the top priority for voters in the battlegrounds (51% top two issue) and many more voters trust Democrats over Republicans to handle the issue (+15 trust Democrats more). This includes most independents (+35 trust Democrats more).Health care is the top issue for roughly a third of the electorate (30% top two issue) and support outweighs opposition to the recent Medicaid expansion. Nearly half (47%) agree that “the Medicaid expansion means as many as 400,000 Virginians now have access to affordable health care and struggling rural hospitals now have more funding to stay open” while only 37% think “the Medicaid expansion will lead to runaway spending and big tax increases and it does nothing to make the health care more affordable for middle-class Virginians.” Even a significant number of Republicans agree with the pro-Medicaid expansion argument (27%).
When it comes to state legislative races, a majority (55%) say it is important “to elect Democrats who will protect a woman’s right to choose and make her own health care decisions” than to elect Republicans who will oppose abortion (only 34%). This pro-choice position is held by nearly half of the independents (47%) and one in five Republicans (21%).
The numbers speak for themselves. With strong momentum and high spirits moving into the 2019 General Election, Democrats are likely to continue making gains towards taking back the legislature.