Monthly Two Cents

Why I Support Vangie Williams For Congress

By John Suddarth

As you know, I was one of the candidates for the Democratic Congressional Nomination in Virginia’s First District. Even though I lost to Vangie, I feel very good about her and her candidacy. I support her enthusiastically for three reasons.  First and least importantly, I, like the other candidates, committed to supporting the eventual nominee of our party on numerous occasions and I’m as good as my word. Secondly, I’ve gotten to know Vangie quite well and think very highly of her both as a person and as a candidate and think she will make an excellent congresswoman who always votes in our interests and third, it is absolutely essential for the future of our country that we send a Blue Wave of progressive Democrats to Washington to stop the self-aggrandizing and malevolent monster the GOP has become under Donald Trump and his enabling minions like Rob Wittman.

And so I call on you as patriotic, passionate, and concerned Democrats to support Vangie wholeheartedly as well. This is no time to stand on the sidelines. All of us have friends who voted for a third party candidate in 2016, either because they were Bernie supporters who felt he had been treated unfairly or they just did not like Hillary. Some of them smugly thought they were making some type of subtle or sophisticated point by voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein while in fact all they were doing is help put Trump in the White House. We can’t afford to let our friends make this mistake again. Our country is in dire straits and this is an all-hands-on-deck moment. We have to take back the House and the Senate.

The primary nominating process, for all its imperfections, is the vehicle through which we select our candidates. Each candidate in the Democratic primary was asked at least 10 times if he or she would support the eventual nominee. Each time asked I replied simply with “Absolutely.”  I meant it then and I mean it now. My support for Vangie is total without caveat or qualification. Any participant who does not support the nominee is just a user of the system, not a participant. A party is a team and an organization, a body whose members are obligated to support its objectives and its candidates. But being a good team player is not the only reason I support Vangie.

Vangie and I had over 20 joint appearances together during the course of the campaign and I got to know her quite well as a person as well as a candidate.  I always found her to be friendly, sincere, and open and honest, even about some of the personal challenges she faced like her bankruptcy due to outrageous medical bills.  Perhaps she was born empathetic to others or maybe she is thoughtful and considerate because she has been through the ringer herself during her long career as a civil servant, strategic planner, and government contractor. Contrast her with Rob Wittman, who remains silent while students are mowed down with assault rifles and President Trump wenches suckling infants from the arms of their mothers, who vote to take away healthcare from hardworking Americans and refuses to invest in our infrastructure while giving tax cuts to the wealthy and lavishing money on the defense contractors who donate to his campaign. This is what Vangie is fighting against as she fights for us.

I’ve also met her husband numerous times and some of her six daughters. She has a wonderful and supportive family, which is a testament to her as a woman, mother, and wife. And she is also hardworking and tireless. After a late Friday night debate in Northern Virginia, we found ourselves scheduled to be in New Kent for another debate early the next morning. There she was when I arrived, having traveled from King George, much further than I, looking fresh and ready to present her views and engage in discussion.  She confided in me that she had had only four hours of sleep and even though she was probably even more exhausted than me, no one would ever know it.

On another day, the fledgling Democratic Committee in Richmond County tried to have a debate. Only Vangie and I, and seven or eight citizens showed up and the organizers were clearly embarrassed.  Vangie and I conferred with each other though and then asked the participants to just gather around the table so we could have a conversation instead of a debate. We spoke about how our party was dedicated to improving things for the working people and middle class, how we wanted to work to ensure everyone had healthcare, a good education, homes, schools, and workplaces safe from gun violence, equality, respect, a living wage, and a secure retirement with dignity.  

The other participants that day told us about their concerns, hopes, and dreams, and how they were even more worried about the future prospects for their children and grandchildren. It was a great discussion which all of us enjoyed. Others might have thought that spending two hours with 8 potential voters a waste of time. Not Vangie. Like me, she saw it as an opportunity to engage with citizens and support our party. And we helped jump-start the Richmond County Democratic Committee.  

What I also learned about Vangie on the campaign trail is that she has the personality and temperament to be able to work with others, even those who may be of malevolent intent and difficult to work with.  During her long career as a civil servant, contractor and strategic planner, she has had to deal with those who did not put the overall good of the country first and foremost and I know that she has at times faced headwinds as an African-American woman. But she has persevered cheerfully and remained focused on mutually-beneficial win-win outcomes like we will want her to do in Congress.

When I was growing up in an America that still worked to lift the lot of every citizen, we were taught to treat each other with respect and to listen more than we talked. We learned about how our democracy worked and the dangers of populism. There were phrases of speech we don’t hear much anymore.  Civic-minded. Can-do spirit. American Know-How. Just being neighborly. Our differences end at the water’s edge. All those things that are no longer true as the rich get richer, our infrastructure crumbles, more and more of us are denied a living wage as our healthcare costs soar, nothing is done to stop gun violence, and our president alienates our allies and refuses to confront a virtual invasion by the Russians. The republicans work to keep their base angry and misinformed because anger motivates voters and anger sells and misinformed Americans to vote against their own interests. We need to convince them to vote for themselves by voting for Democrats!

By sending a progressive wave of leaders to Washington, leaders like Vangie, we can begin lifting the national dialogue above all that mean-spirited nonsense and refocus government on the people’s interests. We can learn again to appeal to each other’s better natures and change the tone and tenor in Washington, to put the people first.

In Vangie, we have a nominee who can mobilize the base with her progressive positions. She is also someone who can appeal to the 20% in the middle up for grabs, the folks tired of the bickering and backbiting and want someone who is objective and logical, who has the proven experience to build consensus, work together to understand complex situations and create win-win solutions.  

We have a nominee who is strong and courageous and not afraid to say no to special interests and their money and not afraid to appear in public. When she wins we will have a congresswoman who fixes problems, not who turns every problem to political advantage, a leader who can always be trusted to act in good faith to get America back on the right track for our children and grandchildren.   A leader named Vangie Williams. Please join me with your contributions, your efforts, your gifts of persuasion and your vote in getting her elected this November.

Democrats Must Turn Out In November!

by Vangie Williams

Hanover, you delivered on your promise to unify under the Democratic ticket after June 12 and are already organizing for the battle on November 6. A large part of the credit goes to John Suddarth, an incredible candidate and active member of the Hanover Democratic Committee. John came to congratulate me on Election Night at my watch party and we have worked together ever since to retire Rep. Rob Wittman.

It’s this type of unity and energy that Democrats will need to flip the district blue.

Across the country, we are seeing a surge in voter enthusiasm during primary elections this year. According to state elections offices, 5 million more people voted in Democratic contests in 2018 compared to the 2014 midterm elections. But, Republicans are showing up as well. An additional 2 million people picked up a ballot for a Republican candidate.

This tells me that there are voters who may be persuaded to vote for either party – votes we need to secure for a victory in November.

We know that Democrats historically do not turn out the same way Republicans do for midterm elections. The “midterm falloff” is noticeably greater for young voters, people of color and other minority voters, ultimately benefitting Republicans in recent midterms. This pattern of low voter turnout played a significant role in 2010 and 2014 for the GOP, including right here in the 1st Congressional District.

In Hanover, from 2008 to 2018 the falloff for Democrats between a presidential election and a midterm election was 57% compared to 20% for Republicans. Nearly 40% ofDemocratic voters are staying at home during crucial congressional elections.

This is a problem we must tackle for the upcoming election, for next year’s Virginia House of Delegates elections and every race whether it’s on the local, state or federal level.

Conventional wisdom says that Democrats have this in the bag, especially with an unpopular president and a record-breaking number of women running for political office. However, a lot can happen between now and November, even with an energized Democratic base. We have to do more than vilify this Administration. We have to motivate voters –primarily communities that we aren’t engaging throughout the year – to show up at the polls on Election Day.

We can win this election, but we must organize, mobilize and engage voters in every corner of the district. It’ll take registering new voters, fundraising, knocking on doors and writing postcards. We also must reach new voters by talking to people across the entire political spectrum. Let’s drop the labels and focus on a people-first strategy. It’s not an “us versus them” contest. It’s about “we the people” and putting people ahead of petty politics.

As we will continue to see during the primary season, candidates backed by multi-millionaires aren’t the only ones with power.  We have power too. Power at the polls. Let’s fight for a government that’s good and takes care of its people.

Gender Roles



Rob Wittman,

Time for your retirement!

by Colleen Berry

In an April 9th email sent to his constituents in the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Rob Wittman touted an award he received from the 60 Plus Association. The “Guardian of Seniors’ Rights” Award commends Wittman for “his commitment to protect Social Security and Medicare and to work to cut wasteful government spending.”

The email further describes the 60 Plus Association as a “non-partisan organization representing over 7.2 million seniors.”

However, what our Congressman conveniently omits is that the 60 Plus Association is funded by Charles & David Koch (of Koch Industries) via the Freedom Partners, who consider 60 Plus to be part of their “massive conservative political network.” They have donated millions of dollars to candidates, all rightwing Republicans. They are also members of the “Cooler Heads” organization, a climate change denial group that promotes the repeal of EPA regulations on clean air, offshore drilling, and energy subsidies.

60 Plus was formed as a counter to the AARP, but definitely does not have the best interests of seniors in mind, either through its PAC or its stated goals, which include “seeking alternative solutions developed through the private sector, financed through the free enterprise system.” This is doublespeak for privatization of Social Security and Medicare, which will end both programs as we know them.

These are certainly not “good people” to be receiving an award from. To the contrary, it highlights the hypocrisy of Rob Wittman, telling his constituents that he is working for them to protect Social Security and Medicare while accepting accolades from a group whose openly stated goals include dismantling those very programs. Furthermore, touting how much of an environmentalist he is, while taking awards from groups that are actively working against the clean Chesapeake Bay and action on climate change is simply dishonest.  It seems obvious to us where Rep. Rob Wittman’s allegiances lie — and it’s not with the people of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District.

It is imperative that we all come together as one to support our Democratic nominee for US Congress after June 12th. Our message to Rob Wittman – we will not tolerate a representative who works against the best interests of his constituents and community. Time for your retirement!

Monthly 2 Cents from Vangie Williams.(This month's Two Cents features Vangie Williams, one of three Democrats vying for the Democratic nomination to run for the first Congressional District seat. The April newsletter featured John Suddarth and the June newsletter will feature Edwin Santana. We have three good candidates running for the Democratic nomination...we will be excited to wholeheartedly support the candidate who wins the June 12 primary. Don't forget to vote!)

Ready to Work For the First District

by Vangie Williams

I am from the 1st District. I grew up here, have family roots going back 300 years, and it’s where my husband and I have chosen to raise our daughters. This is my home. My experience and knowledge of the district makes me uniquely positioned to understand the issues that impact our communities. From idling in traffic on I-95 and I-64 to watching families struggle with paying out-of-pocket for medical services, I know that our current representative in Washington is not doing his job. The same problems we’ve faced for years are not getting better. They’re getting worse. At some point we have to say ‘enough is enough.’ I decided now was the time to run for Congress because the hardworking men and women of the 1st District should get a fair shot at success. We need good government that takes care of people, not the bottom line of greed-driven companies. As a strategic planner I solve problems for the government every day. I look for solutions to real problems real people face in the 1st District. My common sense agenda for our future looks like this:

• An economy that works for everyone. We can bring good jobs to the 1st District throughimprovements and new investments in education, transportation and innovation.

• Healthy families with access to world-class healthcare. I support a single-payer healthcaresystem that puts people over profits. I believe healthcare is a right and profit-driven armies oflobbyists are standing in the way of real healthcare reform.

• Investing in our communities and our hometown heroes. My INVEST Initiative will address core issues like education, public safety, military families and veteran dignity while revitalizing communities – big and small – all across our great nation. But in order for us to bring jobs and prosperity back to our district, we have to remove greed and excessive corporate profits from the system.

The influence of money in politics is at the core ofcorruption, government waste and congressional dysfunction. It’s the reason why healthcare has become outrageously expensive and we’re not improving patient outcomes. It’s time to close tax loopholes by having large corporations pay their fair share in taxes and take stepsto undo the harm from Citizens United with legislation such as the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting a Light On Spending in Elections). Without such measures, special interests will continue to have a strangle hold on making progress for the average American. Ultimately, we have to remove barriers and bring people together. It’s not “us versus them” when it comes to making sure our children are safe, and ensuring every school has the resources it needs for teachers to prepare the next generation for the future. The issues we face every day are not exclusive toone political party. Taking on an incumbent will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I readily accept.

I have concrete policy proposals. And more importantly, I know government. I know how rules are made and how they are implemented. My 25 years as a public servant and work with federal contracts has given me the know how to make vision a reality. Programs we rely on a daily basis were managed under my leadership. People in the district are ready for change. I know this because I’m gaining new supporters every weekacross the entire political spectrum. My message of “we the people” resonates with residents who voted for Trump and still want Wittman out of office. Plus, many want to see a woman with a seat at thetable. In 230 years, Virginia has only sent four women to Congress.We need new leadership on Capitol Hill that will represent your interests. As your congresswoman, I’m ready to work for the people of the 1st District.