RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — As suicides have risen in Virginia - including a 29 percent increase among children in 2016 - Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation calling on state officials to report how they are addressing the problem.

House Bill 569, introduced by Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke, requires the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report annually its progress and activities on suicide prevention. The report will go to the governor and General Assembly.

The bill is of special significance to Gooditis, who was elected in November to represent the 10th House District, which includes parts of Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun counties. During the first two weeks of her candidacy, Gooditis lost her brother to alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He had a number of suicide attempts. It was part of the reason I was running in the first place. I found him dead two weeks after I announced my candidacy," Gooditis said. "At that point, I don't think anyone would've penalized me for quitting. But I had met so many who needed help, I couldn't quit. I had to run and try to get the seat to try to speak for people who need someone to speak for them."


In Virginia, women make up a little more than half the population, at 50.8 percent as of July 2016. However, no woman has ever served as governor, lieutenant governor or U.S. senator. The state ranks 35th in the nation for the number of women serving in its congressional delegation.

"We are definitely still battling sexism," said Lindsey Davis Stover, a former Obama administration official who is running to take Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock's place in Congress this year. "As women, we have to step up and run for office."

While Stover and her fellow Democratic front-runner, State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, would replace another woman if they were to win, political statistics are starting to shift in favor of Virginia women.

This year in Virginia's House of Delegates, 28 women took office, a record number coming after anti-Donald Trump sentiment voted out a number of Republican men. In Loudoun County, three of its four state senators and five of its seven delegates are women...                             ...more     


Two bills that would amend the Middleburg Town Charter to authorize the collection of its longstanding business personal property tax are moving through the General Assembly.

The town has been collecting the tax from businesses at a rate of $1 per $100 in assessed value for decades, but Town Administrator Martha Semmes said a problem was discovered late last year. Town Attorney Martin Crim realized that a section of the Virginia Code restricts towns from assessing the tax if it’s at a higher rate than the vehicle tax. Since Middleburg phased out its vehicle tax 20 years ago, the business tax was, by default, higher.

“He felt that we should not be assessing that business tangible personal property tax,” Semmes said.

To correct the problem, the town staff worked with then-delegate Randy Minchew and Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27) to draft bills that would allow the town to continue assessing the tax without reinstating the vehicle tax. Vogel introduced the Senate bill last month; newly elected Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-10) introduced the House bill.

The Virginia Senate passed Vogel’s bill by a 37-3 vote last month. The House also approved the measure, although it stripped an emergency clause designed to allow the change to take effect upon the governor’s signature. The House bill is under review by the Senate.

Loudoun’s legislators in the General Assembly this year include a lot of freshmen, but for the most part that hasn’t slowed them down filing bills.

The delegation is pushing bills in the Senate and a newly rebalanced House of Delegates ranging from local problems like tolls on the Dulles Greenway and rural broadband access to statewide issues like redistricting and net neutrality. 

Every Democrat representing Loudoun in the House of Delegates got behind a bill that would require the three school systems that do not offer universal full-day kindergarten to adopt and implement a plan to phase it in. Loudoun, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake are the three remaining school districts in the state that do not provide a full school day to every kindergartener.

Loudoun’s elementary schools have expanded their full-day kindergarten offerings each year. By this fall, assuming the School Board adopts the budget drafted by Superintendent Eric Williams, 93 percent of Loudoun kindergarteners will attend a full day. Williams has said reaching that 100 percent threshold will take additional money to build three-classroom additions at the four elementary schools that will still not have the program, which all sit in the fastest growing part of the county.

Erin Zwiener returned to Texas to settle down. At 32, she had published a children’s book, won Jeopardy! three times and ridden roughly 1,400 miles from the Mexico border up the Continental Divide on a mule. In 2016, she moved with her husband to a small house in a rural enclave southwest of Austin with simpler plans: write another book, tend her horses, paint her new home blue.

One day last February, she changed those plans. Zwiener was surfing Facebook after finalizing color samples for her living room–sea foam, navy, cornflower–when she saw a picture of her state representative, Jason Isaac, smiling at a local chamber of commerce gala. “Glad you’re having a good time,” she commented. “What’s your position on SB4?” After a tense back-and-forth about the Lone Star State’s controversial immigration law, Isaac accused her of “trolling” and blocked her. That’s when she decided to run for his seat. Zwiener never got around to painting her living room. She’s trying to turn her Texas district blue instead.

Zwiener is part of a grassroots movement that could change America. Call it payback, call it a revolution, call it the Pink Wave, inspired by marchers in their magenta hats, and the activism that followed. There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic...   

Women Line Up to Run for Office, Harnessing Their Outrage at Trump

New York Times

December 4th, 2017

By Mike Tackett

LEESBURG, Va. - For Wendy Gooditis, a Northern Virginia real estate agent, the crystallizing moment in her decision to run for office was when she heard her state delegate suggest that he had fought gerrymandering in Virginia when his record said otherwise.

For Mai-Khanh Tran, a pediatrician in Southern California, it was the day after the presidential election in 2016 and she looked into the eyes of a young patient with a brain tumor whose family had only recently obtained health insurance. 

For Andrea Ramsey, the presidents of a nonprofit children's health clinic in Kansas City, Kan., it was May when her local congressman voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

None of these women had seriously contemplated entering politics before. They had no money or organization. But they were dismayed with the directions of the country, they said, starting with the election of President Trump, and finally decided to act...                                     ...more


Here's How Two Virginia Seats Flipped from Red to Blue in 2017

Bill Press Show

November 10, 2017

 

 


The test of whether the nation's Democrats can turn enthusiasm into tangible victories rested on a pingpong table in the basement of a home in Leesburg, Va., where breakfast sweets vied for space with scores of election packets that dozens of volunteers gathered to deliver to homes of potential voters.

The candidate the volunteers were there to support in a race for the commonwealth's lower legislative chamber was Wendy Gooditis, one of scores of first-timers drawn to the 2017 state races out of frustration over the presidential election and the conservative bent of Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature.

While her campaign is decidedly local, it and others like it around the state carry weight: Virginia represents a nationally watched early test of whether Democrats can halt a series of ignoble defeats and craft a template for the 2018 congressional and gubernatorial elections.

The gathering on Saturday morning testified to the attention Tuesday's election has attracted: The volunteers came not only from Virginia but from New Hampshire, Ohio, Maryland, Texas and Tennessee. The state's attorney general, Mark Herring, and Dorothy McAuliffe, wife of the governor, rallied volunteers. As they scurried out a few minutes later with packets in hand, Gooditis, a former teacher and real estate agent, expressed confidence that victory would be found among the 70,000 doors on which her troops already had knocked...                                                                                      ...more