Meet the Women Leading Democratic Resistance to the Virginia Capitol
Democrats are running in a record 88 out of the 100 seats on the ballot in the upcoming Virginia’s House of Delegates elections this fall and the party believes they have a good chance of flipping a up to 17 seats in the GOP controlled chamber.
Democrats across the state are peeved by Donald Trump’s election. They are stepping forward to bring the fight to the GOP at the ballot box by signing up to take on Republican incumbents in every corner of the state – from rural Southwest Virginia to the rapidly growing suburbs and exurbs of Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Northern Virginia.
The GOP currently controls the chamber with a 66-34 seat majority.
Experts believe that flipping 17 seats in a single election may be next to impossible because Republicans have gerrymandered the districts to their advantage. Democrats say that is not a deterrent.
Women Candidates make up more than half of the candidates. Indeed, 30 of the 54 Democrats taking on Republican incumbents this fall are female.
The first slate of Virginia House women candidates who will bring the needed perspective to the state capitol in Richmond and can break the GOP’s stranglehold on the State House are Hala Ayala, Debra Rodman, and Danica Roem.
Hala Ayala is running in House District 51 in the D.C. suburbs against Republican Del. Richard Anderson, a four-term incumbent. Anderson is a consistent supporter of the extreme anti-choice legislation, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
Ayala, a cyber security specialist and founder of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), quit her job to run for office full-time. Ayala is a single mother of two, and she helped organize her state for the Women’s March in January.
Ayala came from a very diverse background: Her father’s roots are Salvadorian and North-African, while her mother is Irish and Lebanese.
“As a single mother, Hala worked her way up from a service job with no health insurance to being a cybersecurity specialist with the Department of Homeland Security. She has fought for raising the minimum wage, Medicaid Expansion and equal pay for equal work,” according to her campaign website.
Debra Rodman is running in House District 73 in the Richmond suburbs against Del. John O’Bannon, a 17-year GOP incumbent who has faced only one Democratic opponent since first winning office.
O’Bannon is one of the General Assembly’s most ardent opponents of immigrants and LGBT community. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, supported blocking insurance companies from covering abortion services, and champions both banning abortion at 20 weeks and so-called “personhood” legislation.
Debra Rodman is an anthropology professor at Randolph-Macon College and head of the school’s Women’s Studies program. She advocates for immigrants, children and people in the LGBT community fleeing persecution in their home countries.
“In my campaign I’m focusing on the fundamental values that are crucial to people here in Henrico County. Nothing else matters if you can’t find a job. And while Donald Trump and the Richmond Republicans talk a great game on the economy, their actions tell a different story,” she says on her campaign website.
“Cutting through the rhetoric is my top priority; to make real progress towards more jobs for Virginia, through more job training programs, not budget cuts. Better employees attract more businesses attract better employees.”
“Facing financial disaster when you or your child needs to see a doctor is unacceptable. Unlike the incumbent Delegate, politician John O’Bannon, I support giving more access to crucial health care for Henrico County families, including expanding Medicaid,” she added.
Danica Roem is running in House District 13 in Northern Virginia, against Del. Bob Marshall, a notoriously virulent anti-LGBT crusader. Roem is a tenacious, hard-working journalist by trade.
As a candidate, she focuses on the real issues that affect residents of her district. Danica’s main issue in this campaign is the condition of the roads in her district, the terrible traffic on Route 28 in Prince William County.
She is running on this vital subject and the many other things her opponent gives short shrift to, while he has been busy grandstanding for his hateful causes in Richmond.
Roem is the first openly transgender candidate in Virginia and advocates protection of LGBT rights.
“The top issue we face in the 13th District is fixing Route 28 so morning rush hour isn’t unbearable. It was awful in 1992 and it’s awful today. It’s time to change it,” she says on her campaign website.
“My proposal calls for the NVTA reallocating the $300 million it’s set for improving the Interstate 66/Route 28 intersection so the money moves further south for other improvements– like widening 28 to six lanes just south of U.S. 29, removing stop lights where appropriate (and the residents find useful) and coming up with multi-modal traffic options so people aren’t stuck having to only choose vehicles — if the private conglomerate likely to install tolls on I-66 follows through on its pledge to put $300 million into the I-66/28 intersection.”
“Let me be clear: I oppose all tolling of roads in Northern Virginia as it is a form of double taxation when we have to give up general access lanes in order for private companies to profit from toll revenue,” she continued.
“Yet I’m also pragmatic. The time to defeat toll road proposals is the conception stage. So rather than relitigate with the state, my position is we take the next-best option and use the $300 million the private conglomerate is pledging for the Route 28/I-66 intersection as a means to reallocate the NVTA’s $300 million for further road improvements south. That means we can fix the roadway without raising taxes; it just takes political leadership to accomplish it,” she added.
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