Redistricting 2022

On Dec. 28th, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously approved maps for new congressional and state legislative districts that will remain in place for the next decade.Here’s what you need to know about the impact of new electoral maps for Clarke County

6th U.S. Congressional District

congressional districts in VA

With redistricting maps now finalized (although the NAACP is weighing whether or not to challenge them in the U.S. Supreme Court) Clarke County will no longer be represented by Jennifer Wexton in Congress. Instead we are in the new 6th Congressional District which encompasses the length of the Shenandoah Valley from Frederick County down to Blacksburg and Roanoke.

Localities south of Frederick County along I-81 have been represented by Republican Ben Cline of the 6th District. Cline plans to run again for his seat and faces opposition from Democratic candidate Jennifer Lewis, of Waynesboro, who ran against Cline in 2018. Voters in the new CD6 went for Trump by more than 22% over Biden in 2020. Wexton’s new CD10 is +18% lean Democrat.

State Senate District 1

Republican Senator Jill Vogel SD27 is our current representative in the Virginia senate. Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester will become part of the new 1st District. Vogel will not be running in the new SD1. It will be a strong Republican district.

State House of Delegates District 31

Currently Clarke County residents are still represented by Democrat Wendy Gooditis HD10 in the southern part of Clarke County and Republican Dave LaRock HD33 in the northern part of Clarke.

In the 2023 elections for all of the Virginia House of Delegates, HD31 will encompass parts of Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties most of Clarke County. The new HD31 likely breaks down as 65% Republican and 35% Democratic. Current Republican delegates Dave LaRock and Michael Welbert will have to duke it out in the new HD30, but if there is one silver lining to redistricting is that it’s goodbye LaRock for Clarke. Wendy Gooditis is still deciding what she may do next year.

Further Reading

Legislative redistricting bringing big changes to region (Winchester Star, January 7, 2022)

New redistricting maps puts I-81 corridor together in one congressional district (Northern Virginia Daily January 15, 2022)

Virginia Supreme Court approve redrawn congressional, General Assembly maps (Washington Post, Dec 28, 2021)

Virtual Call to Caucus

Our planned in-person caucus for April 20th is now a statewide unassembled caucus due to the Corona Virus outbreak.  The Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) has worked hard to make this adjustment, and below is a letter from the state party explaining how it will work.

DPVA Caucus Update

Fellow Democrats,

Tonight the Democratic Party of Virginia leadership, Chairwoman Swecker, and Staff convened a call to update us on the upcoming caucuses in April 18/20th. Please see the following guidelines as the caucuses will no longer be in person. The biggest change is that anybody who wishes to participate (either by running for state delegate or alternate and/or just to vote) in the upcoming caucuses must pre-register with the State Party. This was done to ensure that caucuses can be conducted in an open, inclusive, transparent manner but also to abide by the Governor’s guidelines as to how we should conduct ourselves in the current times.

The information below should answer all the questions you have but as always DPVA staff are ready to answer your questions if you have them. You can email your questions to political@vademocrats.org


Please read this note from DPVA Political Director Shyam Raman on new Local Caucus process for Presidential Delegate Selection:

Dear Local Chairs,

Here’s the language we would like you to send to your committee members about the new process that we will be using in the Caucus process. 

Click here for the DPVA Caucus Update

Please see below for a link to the new Statewide Call to Caucus. As a reminder, this will supercede any Calls that have currently been released, and you should be sending this to anyone interested in participating in the Caucus Process.

Click here for the DPVA Statewide Call to Virtual Caucus

Pre-Filing Forms

Click here for the pre-filing form to be a State Delegate or Alternate

Click here for the pre-filing form to participate in a Presidential Caucus

Again, please send us any other questions you may have, and we’ll get you an answer as soon as we can.

Thank you all for your support and patience!

Shyam Raman
DPVA Political Director  

Want to Participate in this year's VADEMs state convention? Call 844-482-8683

Climate Strike Earth Day Week

All over the country, young people and adults have already begun organizing for the biggest climate strike yet. From Wednesday, April 22 to Friday, April 24 we will join together and use our collective voice to demand climate action.Time is not on our side — this must be the decade of climate action, and it has to begin in this critical election year. From April 22-24, young people are once again asking adults to back us up as we take our movement to the next level.Here’s a quick rundown of what organizers are planning for each day:

DAY 1: Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22The 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, is a day of mass mobilization. We will kick-off the three days with a demonstration of our collective power and unity with millions of young people and adults participating in thousands of strikes and Earth Day events across the country. On this historic day of climate action, we are centering Indigenous people and people of color, reflecting on our personal connections to the Earth, and recommitting ourselves to the movement.  

DAY 2: Stop The Money Pipeline Day of Action; Thursday, April 23On Thursday, April 23, we will target financial institutions across the country. Many students have given their universities until Earth Day to divest from fossil fuels and many campuses will be having a day of accountability to demand their schools comply. Adults across the country will also be organizing actions at branches of JP Morgan Chase, Black Rock, and Liberty Mutual to demand they take money out of fossil fuels and stop the funding of the destruction of our planet. This day of action will bring urgent public attention to the fact that banks, insurance companies, and asset managers are complicit in funding, insuring, and investing in the climate crisis, and that stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency.

DAY 3: Day of Political Action, Friday, April 24On Friday, April 24, we focus on the urgency of political change. We need leaders who will address this existential threat, and for this to happen, we need people to show up at the polls this year. On Friday we will be conducting a massive, targeted voter registration effort across the country as we ask people to commit to using their voice and vote to bring about a safe and just future. Nationwide, strike actions will focus on elected officials and government leaders to demand bold and immediate climate action.There will be millions of concerned young people and adult allies participating in thousands of climate actions across the country, including rallies, marches, teach-ins, protests, and strikes.We need everyone on board to show the momentum of this movement. Can you forward this message to a friend who you hope to take action with from April 22-24?

In solidarity with the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition strikewithus.org #strikewithus

Resolution calling for repeal of the so-called “right to work” law

WHEREAS Virginia has been rated the worst state for worker rights two years in a row by Oxfam; and

WHEREAS income inequality has been increasing dramatically in Virginia and nationwide; and

WHEREAS “right to work” makes it harder for workers to join together to improve their pay and working conditions; and

WHEREAS Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone;” and

WHEREAS unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and increase total compensation including benefits such as paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, by about 28% while reducing the gender and racial pay gap; and

WHEREAS in “right to work” states, annual wages are $1,558 less on average than in

non “right to work” states, with lower health benefits and pensions and less safety on the job; and

WHEREAS the so-called “right to work” law does not give anyone the right to a job, but instead, in effect, reduces wages, health care, retirement security, and on-the-job safety for all workers; and

WHEREAS repealing the “right to work” from the Virginia Code would allow Virginia workers to organize for better working conditions and family-sustaining wages; and

WHEREAS one of the core values of the Democratic Party is to support worker rights, particularly the right to join and form unions;

WHEREAS repeal of the anti-worker “right to work” law is the best way to send the message that Democrats support economic justice for working people;

Therefore BE IT RESOLVED that: The Clarke County Democratic Committee asks the VA General Assembly to repeal the misnamed so-called “right to work” law in the 2020 legislative session.

Sources: https://policy-practice.oxfamamerica.org/work/poverty-in-the-us/best-states-to-work https://www.npr.org/2019/09/26/764654623/u-s-income-inequality-worsens-widening-to-a-new- gap
https://www.afscme.org/now/the-racist-roots-of-right-to-work https://www.epi.org/blog/unions-help-narrow-the-gender-wage-gap/ https://www.epi.org/publication/martin_luther_king_on_right_to_work/ https://thinkprogress.org/how-union-membership-benefits-african-american-and-latino-workers- 440ce0b8215a

Adopted on February 4, 2020 by the Clarke County Democratic Committee.

Tracking Legislation During the 2020 Session

The new Virginia legislative session with Democratic majorities is now underway, and there will be hundreds of important bills flowing through committees in the both the House and Senate.

Committees and their members can be found here.

RichmondSunlight.com is a great website for understanding bills and reading comments from people who are tracking them.

Virginia LIS website is the official resource and a good one. There is livestreaming and recorded videos of committee discussions.

At our January 14, 2020 monthly business meeting we discussed how the Clarke Dems could research bills and be prepared to publish our own list of legislative priorities for future sessions.

Resources

If you want to keep track of bills that matter to you, here are some resources from groups that have set legislative priorities:

The Clarke County Democratic Committee Endorses A DNC-Sponsored Climate Debate

Whereas, There is a global climate crisis that requires a strong presidential response. Data from the most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific bodies indicates that humanity now has less than 12 years to implement policies to mitigate and reverse the effects of global warming.  

Virginia and the United States are already experiencing the effects of climate change and its consequences in the form of deadlier storms, rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires, and floods costing billions of dollars in damages and adverse impacts to human health, the environment and our economy. These effects will worsen unless swift and bold federal action is taken.

The one facet of climate change that is and will continue to affect the daily lives of Virginians and U.S. residents more than any other is killer heat.  A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, titled “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days,” found that the Southeast region, which includes Virginia, would be hit the hardest by extreme heat. Historically, Virginia experiences an average of five days per year with a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That number would increase by almost 600%, to 33 days per year by midcentury, and 60 days per year by century’s end – exposing roughly 3.2 million Virginians to a week or more of days topping out at or above a heat index of 127 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is overwhelming bipartisan support for policies to tackle climate change in the Commonwealth. A 2018 poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that a majority of registered voters in Virginia (71%) believe global warming is happening, with 62% saying they were worried about climate change. Eighty-six percent of registered Virginia voters support funding more research into renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, 78% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and 71% support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants.

In addition, a June an online survey polled 1,030 registered voters to ask if they would “support or oppose setting aside” one of the Democratic candidate debates “to focus specifically on the issue of climate change.” Sixty-four percent of Democrats and independents that lean blue supported the idea, “with 42% strongly in support and 22% somewhat in favor. (https://bit.ly/31ibxia ) However, only 6% (15 minutes) of the time spent on policy topics at the first two Democratic candidate debates was on the climate crisis, and not every candidate even got to speak on the issue.  

Focusing on the climate crisis will distinguish Democrats as leaders on the issue and build energetic support among younger voters. All Virginia voters who care about climate, clean energy and the environment want to know what proposals and positions the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates may have, and how they compare and contrast, in order to make informed decisions on who to support in the upcoming Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary. The state chairs of the Democratic parties in Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming have joined in calling for a Democratic National Committee sponsored Climate Debate.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Clarke County Democratic Committee:

  1. Endorses a Democratic National Committee–sponsored Climate Debate prior to the primaries;
  2. Urges Virginia Democratic Party Chair Susan Swecker to join other state Democratic party chairs in endorsing a Climate Debate;
  3. Urges the Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Committee’s August 22–24 semi-annual meeting to work to ensure that there is a full DNC vote on a Climate Debate; and
  4. Requests that Virginia delegates to the August DNC meeting vote in favor of having a Climate Debate should it be presented for a vote of the whole.

Plastic Straws in Clarke

The Green Team successfully canvassed local restaurants and quick marts, asking them to join our opt out of plastic straws project.

Thank you Laura Bernstein and Candy Means for volunteering to walk Berryville’s Main street and a couple locations in Boyce to get the word out while also distributing our information flyer.

We learned that Boyd’s Nest restaurant has just switched from single-use plastics to compostable utensils and paper straws! That’s terrific.

Drug Abuse Forum

On April 27th the health care team of the Clarke County Democratic Committee sponsored a public forum on the topic of drug abuse and its impacts on our healthcare and the legal system. The forum was held at a meeting room of the Clarke County Rec center from 10 a.m. until noon and included Q&A after presentations by each speaker.

Panelists included:

  • Lauren Cummings, the Director of the Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition
  • Tim Coyne, a public defender who works with the Northwestern Regional Adult Treatment Drug Court
  • Tony Roper,Clarke County Sheriff
  • Mavis Taintor, candidate for VA General Assembly District 33
  • Delegate Wendy Gooditis, VA General Assembly District 10

The forum provided an overview of the extent of the drug abuse problem in our area, with facts and statistics that you can review here in the embedded power point. Panelists also talked about the value of a drug court in dealing violators with drug problems. (Intro below is under two minutes and then each part varies from 20 minutes to 38 minutes)

Slide Show

Further Reading

Local Drug Court Tries to Break the Cycle of Addition (Nov. 25, 2017, The Winchester Star)

Addiction is a serious community issue (March 8, 2019, The Winchester Star)

The River Podcast interview with Lauren Cummings

Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition Receives $1 million to fight opioid abuse

Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics

The European Union will ban single use plastic within two years (by 2021). Single-use plastics include plastic straws, cup lids, plates, coffee stirrers, food containers, cutlery, and swab sticks. Such throw-away items not only fill landfills but end up in the world’s oceans, threatening marine life and breaking down into micro-plastics which is now entering the food-chain.

These plastic products are not recyclable and not biodegradable. Around the world, some of them end up in streams that flow into rivers and eventually the ocean.

According to the New York Times, “EU countries can choose their own methods of reducing the use of other single-use plastics such as takeout containers and cups for beverages. They will also have to collect and recycle at least 90 percent of beverage bottles by 2029.”

In the United States one study estimates that 500 million straws are used every single day. Another study estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. (National Geographic)

According to Fast Company: “If the current trends around plastic production and use hold steady, plastic may account for 20% of the world’s oil use by 2050. As of July 2018, U.N. Environment and WRI found that 127, or 66%, of the countries they surveyed have implemented some type of policy to regulate plastic bags.

States Taking the Lead

California recently became the first state to nix plastic straws from restaurant tables, and straw bans are starting to be implemented in cities across the country. Starting in 2019, customers in California will have to ask if they want a straw.

Hawaii is poised to also introduce a ban on single-use plastics. Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland may be next in line to implement such bans. State lawmakers have introduced at least 95 bills in 2019 limited single use plastic bags like those used in grocery stores. Most of these bills would ban or place a fee on plastic bags. Others would preempt local government action or improve bag recycling programs.

City & Towns and Voluntary Bans

Some major cities have implemented bans on single use plastic. Seattle last year banned plastic straws. Dozens of cities in California, Texas, Washington State and other states have banned or limited the use of single use plastic bags.

The Clarke County Democrats’ Green Team has discussed asking local businesses in Clarke County and Berryville to implement a voluntary ban on plastic straws and single-use, non compostable, non-recyclable plastic such as bags and cutlery. This is a topic we will do some further research on before making a recommendation.

Further Reading

EU Lawmakers Back Ban on Single-Use Plastics, Set Standard for Word (NYTimes, March 27, 2019)

EU Government Backs Ban on Single Use Plastics (greenbiz, april 2019)

Bottles, utensils and bags: Lawmakers are coming for your single-use plastics (Hawaii News Now, March 15, 2019)

State Plastic Bag Regulations

127 countries are now working to ban single-use plastic (Fast Company, Dec. 2018)

Seattle becomes the latest city to ban plastic straws and utensils (CNN)

A Brief History of How Plastic Straws took over the World (National Geographic)

Why is a fund-raising deadline important?

Ronnie Ross

Your inbox might be full of fund-raising appeals from candidates you support. The messages say it’s almost deadline time, and giving right now is so important. But what does that really mean? What is the deadline, and why is it especially important to give now?

There is a deadline March 31 for candidates to report the donations they have collected to the Virginia Board of Elections. This is important because it provides a picture of the campaign as the election season heats up.

Ronnie Ross is running for the Virginia Senate (27th District). He says deadlines are important because it’s a way to show how a candidate is being received.

“We ask for money now because the ‘Party’ and large donors use our fundraising figures as a sign and measurement of candidate viability. In races like ours, there aren’t liable to be many polls, and so fundraising metrics become a way to estimate how the horse race between candidates is going. It’s an easy thing to fall back on and, if I’m being frank, it tends to be fairly predictive; candidates who raise more money tend to win.

“And so, why are we all of a sudden asking you for money? We’re doing it because after each quarter, people use these numbers to assess our viability. Thus, for us, every fundraising deadline is like a little election that we are trying to win.”

Read more from Ross’s explanation of fund-raising and deadlines here. You can donate to his campaign here.

Mavis Taintor

Mavis Taintor, candidate for the 33rd district in Virginia’s House of Delegates, has also been posting about the March 31 fund-raising deadline.

“We need your help to reach our fundraising goal before March 31,” Taintor’s message said. “We’ve put together an amazing team to flip this district, because we’re convinced this is the year we can send our Republican opponent packing. We hope you’re convinced, too. Can you give $27, $50, or $100 today so that we can end the quarter ready to win this race? We’re counting on every Virginian who cares about social and economic justice and equality to give everything they can. We hope you’ll join us in pushing forward to victory!”

Donate to Taintor’s campaign here.