For many Loudoun County residents, the Women's March on Washington was a positive, affirming, and empowering event. Now that the march is over, the question is: now what?
Announcing the Virginia Statewide Together We Will Book Club!
TOGETHER WE WILL READ!
We are excited to announce our new Virginia statewide initiative – Together We Will Read!
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
Each month, we’ll select a book designed to deepen our understanding on a topic of interest. The hope is that members will plan and participate in small group discussions (with time for socializing) and also join together as a larger group for a virtual conversation when appropriate. The goal of this initiative is to fuel conversations and explore topics (sometimes challenging ones) more deeply. Small groups can form however members wish. We just ask that you make the event open to anyone in TWW.
HOW DOES THE BOOK GET PICKED?
This group was created and is being run by the Richmond VA TWW chapter. Their Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is reaching out to area experts and organizations for topic and book suggestions, as well as questions for discussion. Moving forward, they'll post suggestions for books to the group, and soon will have a book recommendation form.
WHAT’S THE FIRST BOOK?
Our January selection is Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences. This is a book written by two Richmond VA residents (who also happen to be diversity and inclusion experts), Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman . It uses vivid stories and fun exercises and activities to help us reflect on our personal experiences and uncover how our hidden biases are formed.
If you can afford to buy an extra book for those who can’t fit a book into their budget, please see our wish list http://a.co/gLmMMCP. If you would like to request a wish list copy of the book, please contact Alycia Comer-Wright, and as soon as we have copies available, we’ll mail one to you discreetly, no questions asked! Our only request is that you consider sharing with a friend or in your area Little Free Library when you’re finished.
WHEN DO WE MEET?
Our group will schedule a meeting for the end of the month, and a virtual discussion will take place statewide later in the month also. There are author signings and other events being scheduled as well! Join the book discussion page for all info, video clips, a TED talk by the author, and more.
WHAT ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION?
We will also be offering a picture book and young adult title based on a similar theme and if people would like to form small groups for children or just read them along with their children, that would be great too! These titles will be released soon.
Meet the authors, Tiffany and Matthew!
The official hashtag for the book is #OvercomingBiasBook
Want to get involved? Join our Facebook Group and Together We Will Overcome Bias in Virginia.
Together We Will Loudoun Call to Action
When: On January 10, 2017 6:00 PM Regular School Board Meeting
Where: Administration building 21000 Education Court Ashburn VA 20148
What: Asking to have LGBTQ added to protected status groups in Loudoun County School Policy
Thank you everyone for making our first call to action at the December 16th LCPSB Mtg a success. There were so many wonderful speakers and such forceful support!
The School Board chose to push the vote on this issue back to yet a later date, citing the absence of their legal counsel. This works in our favor though, by giving us an opportunity to further our understanding, polish our statements AND make an even greater show of support for the addition of LGBTQ faculty and staff to the protected groups in Loudoun Country school policy. It is vitally important we secure the safety of our staff so Loudoun County continues to attack the best and brightest teachers and administrators. This is also a battle we need to win for the future of our students, setting a strong president now will allow us a spring board to gain full protections for our most vulnerable and marginalized youth in the not so distant future.
To coordinate our efforts on the 10th, we ask that if you are at all comfortable speaking you sign up to do so by calling (571) 252-1020. The County will also have an email sign up closer to time and we will get it to you as soon as it is available. During the meeting on the 16th of December there was no in-person sign up. Many of the speakers were not professionals but concerned citizens simply voicing their passionate support of equality and safety in our home county for all members of our community. This was just as important and effective as the polished speakers.
We will meet in the lobby 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting at 6:00 PM. We will provide safety pins decorated with purple and gold ribbons to identify us and our stance on this issue. If you can are able, consider wearing a white or purple top so we are unified and easily identified!
Because responses, clapping, cheering, or booing, during public comment are prohibited, a visual aid is very important. We want to hand out small signs to wave in support of our speakers. Please let us know if you can help assemble signs and/ or safety pins during the week prior to the event. We would love help!
We believe that failing to approve language aimed at protecting these at risk staff members from discrimination and job loss is unconscionable. We are asking you, the members of Together We Will Loudoun, to stand up for the LGBTQ members of our school community to prevent discrimination. Thank you for taking a stand with us!
TOGETHER WE WILL PROTECT LGBTQ RIGHTS IN LOUDOUN COUNTY
Prelude: Virginia's State Government
The beauty of living in the state with the oldest legislative body in the country, which produced most of our country’s most influential Founding Fathers, is that the Federal Government mirrors Virginia’s. If you ‘get’ one, you ‘get’ the other.
There are three branches.
1. Executive Branch
Governor, Lieutenant Gov. Attorney General and staff for all three
2. Legislative Branch
Virginia House of Delegates: made up of 100 Delegates from 20 districts across the state
Virginia House of Senate made up of 40 Senators -number of Senators per district population density dependent. (We’ll review the Senate at a later date.)
3. Judicial Branch
Judges are selected by both Legislative Houses for 12 year terms, and there are no term limits. Like many other states, Virginia’s Supreme Court is a court of last resort: ie. a decision made by this court cannot be overturned. While there no Supreme Court term renewals in the next two years, as the saying goes, "life happens" and positions need to be filled before the end of a term.
Why Are We Reviewing This?
The entire Executive Branch & The Entire Virginia House of Delegates Are Up For Re-Election In 2017.
All 103 Seats.
Knowing how the Exec Branch is elected, how it overlays the House of Delegates, and the role of the HofDs, provides a decent start to understanding the importance of the 2017 VA election cycle.
Executive Branch Elections
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General
Each of these positions is held for four years, and is up for re-election at the same time during every odd year following a presidential election. The timing allows Virginians an opportunity to balance the Presidential election, and direction of thought, in our state.
Traditionally Virginia leans away from the party that won the Presidential Election. In 2017, that’s Trump....(long, pregnant pause.....) But this is no sure thing in 2017.
Each candidate runs on her/his own ballot/ticket. ie. There’s no two-for-ones like the President and Vice President--each candidate is voted in independently. Despite candidates running under the same party there will likely be platform differences, especially with the GOP candidates who are challenging Democratic incumbents.
Holdup...Did you catch it?
Each candidate runs and is selected on an independent platform, so it’s possible to have Democrats, Republicans, (and yes, third party candidates) each hold one of the 3 Executive Branch seats in the same term. Actually, this happens with some regularity.
Could Be Good, No?
Depending on the political climate that could be a nice balance of power, but this is no ordinary election cycle. Understanding the issues and being familiar with each candidate is super important. We need to ensure the votes go to candidates that share our ideals. Without going down the detailed road of past elections, suffice to say the margins between the 2017 GOP candidates and the incumbent Democrats is going to be tight at best.
But There’s More!
In 8/2016 VA Republicans narrowly chose to use a primary to select their 2017 candidates instead of choosing nominees, leaving us cloudy with a chance of silver lining.
Voter turnout in 2016 was up (yay us!), but the gap between the 2015 gubernatorial candidates D. Terry McAuliffe and R. Ken Cuccinelli can't even be considered "gap". The percentage was 47.75% D vs. 45.23% R. The margins for the 2016 Presidential candidates were similar, Clinton at 49.74% and Trump with 44.43%. With these kinda numbers many moderates and liberals worry the voting turnout will remain high and with just the right push, move the Executive Branch back into the conservative zone, especially in the current socio-political climate.
How Could the Party Affiliations in the Exec. Branch Affect Our Larger Legislative System?
The answer lies below in the section on House of Delegates.
What Do We Do With This Info?
Pay attention to the GOP candidates. Study them. Why? Virginia voters DO NOT register by party; ANY person can vote in any primary. Theoretically then, all of Virginia could participate in the Summer 2017 GOP primary to choose each of the GOP’s Exec. Branch candidates. Those looking for moderation on the GOP ticket, here’s your chance to start influencing the vote BEFORE 11/7/2017.
Study the Democratic Nominees. Two incumbents are running but a Dem. candidate for Lt Governor has yet to announce. The more we know about our potential leaders the better we can support them.
NOW About The House of Delegates
There are 100 delegates in the Virginia House of Delegates (akin to House of Representatives)
each representing of the 100 stare delegate districts. Delegates are elected every TWO years, on odd years, without term limits. Currently there are almost twice as many Republican delegates (66) as Democrat delegates (34).
There are any number of reasons why understanding this ratio is important.
It’s this ratio that largely influences which bills make it through the House for a General Assembly vote (both House and Senate) and ultimately pass
Voting district redrawing/gerrymandering (district remapping to support incumbents) is pretty rampant in Virginia: this has a two-fold impact: first, see above ratio. Second, it often affects access to polls (Democrats tend to loosen voter restrictions making it easier to vote, Republicans tighten)
The potential choice of a Va Supreme Court Justice pre-term end(due to say, retirement)
And the list goes on.
Closing Disclaimer and Charge! For The Coming Year
For the record, we understand this is article is reductionist: it boils down ideals and motivations into a simple Democrat vs. Republican discussion and really, we know for many these "lines in the sand" are less distinct. But generally speaking we can mostly agree Democrats tend to be socially and fiscally more moderate-liberal, while Republicans lean toward a fiscally and socially conservative approach that is often less inclusive. Our point? To explain why being familiar with the process is particularly important this year, and to remind everyone this is not a sprint, but a marathon. Stay informed, stay tuned, and stay active!
Following shortly will be a list of candidates, the major issues at the top of the campaigns, and where each candidate stands per each issue. Included will be news articles that discuss the candidates and their positions. We will update that page and make sure all pertinent alerts are posted here and on another other pertinent spaces
The Women’s March On Washington is ON!
We are beyond excited to add our voices to a movement working for positivity and inclusion. We are now mobilizing our volunteer force so as the the date nears, we can move into action to provide all pertinent information and assistance. If you would like to volunteer with our Together We Will Loudoun (TWWL) chapter on this movement please fill out the form at the bottom of the page. We will reach out and let you know how YOU can help!
We have also received a number of inquiries with regard to transportation to and from the march. To date, we have two busses charted from Leesburg, Va. We are reviewing our lists to determine if we need to consider chartering more busses.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED in a seat on a bus who HAVE NOT already submitted your names to the bus list please complete the form below, selecting the appropriate option.
For those who have ALREADY SUBMITTED your names for a place on a currently chartered bus, please check back periodically for seat reservation and payment deadlines. We can’t wait to stand with you, walk with you and raise our voices for positive change!
To visit the WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON site please visit the Women's March on Washington website.
TOGETHER WE WILL TAKE A STAND FOR ALL WOMEN!
Simple but powerful: to move forward with positive action and message on Inauguration Day by partnering with a local charity to provide what we hope will be a substantial financial and material donation.
The consensus of the Together We Will Loudoun (TWWL) Community Outreach Working Group is to focus our Inauguration Day efforts on helping women in our community. Our Community Outreach Chair is connecting with up to three charities to determine which would be in a position to accept donations and hands-on assistance on January 20th. Once we connect with a charity, TWWL will mobilize to provide the most needed type of assistance.
Spreading Our Message of Unity and Action
If permitted by the charity, we will invite the media for our event on the 20th. If the charity would prefer not to have the media present, but are willing to allow us to promote the event, we will request an article in local papers to discuss our mission and our charitable efforts.
January 20th is Together We Will Loudoun’s launch for its Month of Action! Every month in 2017, TWW will partner with a different local nonprofit.
Our Community Outreach Chair, Kristen Gorczyk, defined the day for us, and is now connecting with local charities to move this effort forward. If you are interested in joining this effort, please fill out the sign up form at the bottom of the page.
Our group was formed in reaction to the events surrounding the 2016 Presidential election. We are full of energy and ideas for the coming year, and offer all Loudoun County residents a great way to connect with like-minded people to actively make a difference in our community. Please join us!
TOGETHER WE WILL support and enrich our community.