Ninth District Congressional Primary Candidates Certified

I was happy to be one of several Democrats from around the Ninth District who met at the Highlands Democratic Resource Center in Abingdon to count petition signatures for Anthony Flaccavento and Justin Santopietro, who will be on the ballot in the June 12th Democratic Primary in the Ninth District, which includes Bristol Virginia, and most of Southwest Virginia. This is the first Democratic Congressional Primary in the Ninth District in my long memory!

The news release on the Ninth District website says, and I can personally verify, that both candidates have been reaching out to voters across the district for months, and that it is apparent that people are recognizing the genuine care they have for folks in the district and the serious issues we face.

Democrats across the Ninth are energized and excited about these candidates! I hope that you can come out and meet them and get to know them if you have not already. Check out our April calendar newsletter that will be posted tomorrow for opportunities to meet the candidates. If you want to be included in notifications on the calendar, meetings and candidate visits, send e-mail to


November reminders

The election pretty much erased all other matters from my mind, so I am sending the reminder early this month. First the election, then the reorganization, then the meeting dates in November:

The Election

Thank you to everyone who helped facilitating the election and supporting candidates! My appreciation of folks who give their time on Election Day grows each time I observe this process. I saw many of you at the polls as candidates, Officers of Election, staff workers, campaign volunteers, and voters. Many thanks to all who participated.

Congratulations to our state and local Democrats for strong campaigns and significant wins. We are returning a powerful team of caring and talented leaders to Richmond, along with a group of Delegates who will stand up for people. This election gives hope to Virginians on many issues, including among others health care, clean air and water, changing technology, adequate income from work, education of children and young adults, training for employment, fair representation in redistricting in 2021, continued advance of diversity and recognition and inclusion, and healing of divisions. Here locally we elected an experienced and capable person to the Commissioner of Revenue office.

  • Ralph S. Northam was elected Governor of Virginia.
  • Justin E. Fairfax was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
  • Mark R. Herring was re-elected Attorney General of Virginia.
  • Cloe Eva Barker was elected Bristol Virginia Commissioner of Revenue
  • Joe R. Mink lost his bid for Bristol Virginia Sheriff. A campaign loss is always disappointing, but we look forward to working with Joe in the future. We appreciate Joe’s willingness to serve and his courage in placing himself on the ballot.

We have much to be thankful for this holiday season, and we look forward to local elections in May for 3 Council seats and 3 School Board seats.


As we previewed in September, the Bristol Virginia Democratic Committee has a reorganizational meeting every two years in odd-numbered years, so we will be doing reorganization at our December meeting in 2017. The November meeting will include planning for reorganization, so we need all voting members to be present.

At reorganization we will elect new members and new officers in the committee. Our committee sends delegates to the regional, state, and national conventions and events, meets for social events and a monthly business meeting, organizes special events, hosts visiting candidates for state offices, and supports Democrats for local offices. We also cooperate with other local and regional organizations in support of candidates and issues. All Bristol Virginia voters who would like to work with us to nominate and elect Democrats are encouraged to attend and apply for membership. Reply to this e-mail if you have questions.

Meeting Dates:

  • Monday, November 13: BVDC Committee Meeting at 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Bristol Virginia Courthouse, 497 Cumberland St., in Bristol, VA. This is an important planning meeting, and we will need voting members to be present.
  • Saturday, November 18: Breakfast with Democrats, at 9:00 a.m. at the Golden Corral, Exit 7 in Bristol, Virginia. No agenda, guests welcome. Attendees order and pay separately.
  • Monday, November 20: TN-VA Democratic Social at around 5:00 p.m. at the State Line Bar and Grille, 644 E. State St., Bristol, TN, 37620. An informal meeting of Democrats, Progressives, Liberals. Attendees order and pay for food and drinks individually.
  • Monday, December 11: (tentative date, subject to change) Reorganization meeting at the Bristol Virginia Courthouse.

Calendar for November

The election is just days away! If you can’t be at the polls on Tuesday Nov. 7, there is still time to vote in person absentee. In Bristol, to vote in person absentee you need to show up at the City Hall on Lee Street, stop at the Registrar’s window, and certify that you meet one of the 20 or so reasons that you must be absent on Election Day. Your vote for our candidates in this election is critical, and I hope everyone receiving this e-mail will vote, and call your friends to be sure they do not forget to vote.

Thank you to folks who have volunteered to work at the polls as Officers of Election, campaign support for candidates outside the polls, and providing rides to the polls.

Bristol folks and people from surrounding areas are invited to a Covered Dish Swing Through Dinner hosted by the Washington County Democratic Committee on Saturday November 4th at 5:00 p.m. at the Southwest Virginia 4-H Center on Hillman Highway in Abingdon. Admission is free, just bring a tasty dish to share. Candidates and There will be guest speakers, bluegrass and country music from local musicians and friends of Heartwood. Washington County constitutional officers and Candidate Joel Harte will be there.

State and Local Democrats on the Nov. 7 ballot in Bristol, Virginia:

    • Ralph S. Northam for Governor of Virginia
    • Justin E. Fairfax for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
    • Mark R. Herring for Attorney General of Virginia
    • Cloe Eva Barker for Bristol Commissioner of Revenue
    • Joe R. Mink for Bristol Sheriff

Our scheduled meetings in November:

  • Saturday November 4: Covered Dish Swing Through in Abingdon, as described above.
  • Thursday, November 9: Washington County Democratic Committee Meeting at 6 p.m. at The Southwest Virginia 4H Center, 25236 Hillman Highway, Abingdon, VA 24210. More information is on their website at
  • Monday, November 13: BVDC Committee Meeting at 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Bristol Virginia Courthouse, 497 Cumberland St., in Bristol, VA. This is an important planning meeting, and we will need voting members to be present.
  • Saturday, November 18: Breakfast with Democrats, at 9:00 a.m. at the Golden Corral, Exit 7 in Bristol, Virginia. Good food, great conversation, no agenda, guests welcome. Attendees pay separately for breakfast.
  • Monday, November 20: TN-VA Democratic Social at around 5:00 p.m. at the State Line Bar and Grille, 644 E. State St., Bristol, TN, 37620. This is an informal meeting of Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, and our political friends and cousins. Attendees order and pay for food and drinks individually, but the conversation is free.

Hope to see you in November, especially on Election Day November 7, 2017.

October calendar reminders and additions

Thank you to the folks who came out to Shanghai Restaurant in Bristol for our October meeting, and to the wonderful friends at Shanghai ( ) who took such great care of us in October!


Be sure to remember the TN-VA Social this evening, Oct. 16, at 5:00 at the State Line, and Breakfast with Democrats at Golden Corral this Saturday, Oct. 21 at 9:00 a.m. The Newsletter with more information is on the web page, through the link in the signature below.

Please attend the Meet and Greet for our local candidates, Cloe Eva Barker for Commissioner of Revenue, and Joe Mink for Bristol Sheriff. This will be Thursday the 19th at 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Bristol Public Library. There will be cookies and tea, and an opportunity to hear from and speak with the candidates about the needs of Bristol that they want to serve.

The Fish Fry – Advance tickets are required for this Sullivan County Democratic Committee fundraiser, and funds will go to elect Tennessee Democrats. The Fish Fry will take place at Warriors’ Path State Park, Saturday, Oct. 28th  at 4:00 p.m., and will be catered by PRATT’S BAR-B-QUE. Ticket price is $25.00. To get your tickets, call Jean Lusardi, 423-989-3953 by Thursday, Oct. 19.  Warriors’ Path State Park is located at 490 Hemlock Rd., Kingsport TN.

Thank you for all that you do for Democrats and for the community, and for being interested in our newsletter!

Voter Registration Deadline is October 16, 2017

RICHMOND, VA – The voter registration deadline for the upcoming Gubernatorial election is October 16th.  Successful registration enables all eligible Virginia voters to cast their ballot in the upcoming election on November 7.  To register to vote or update voter registration information:

  • By mail:  Applications must be postmarked by October 16th.
  • In-person:  Applications must be submitted by 5:00pmon October 16th.
  • Online:  Applications must be submitted by 11:59pmon October 16th.

Any Virginian can check or update their registration information or register for the first time at the Department’s Online Citizen Portal, available at  Registered voters can also preview their ballot and request an absentee ballot through the website.  “The Department of Elections offers the convenience and security of online voter registration to make voter registration more accessible for our citizens,” said Edgardo Cortés, Virginia’s Commissioner of Elections.

To register to vote in Virginia, one must:

  • be a U.S. citizen
  • be a resident of Virginia
  • be at least 18 years old by the upcoming November 7general election
  • have had voting rights restored if convicted of a felony
  • have had the capacity restored by court order if declared mentally incapacitated.

In addition to registering online at, eligible Virginians may register at their local voter registration office.  Voters can find additional information about local general registrar’s offices at Voter registration opportunities are also available at DMV customer service centers and social service offices.

For more information about voter registration or casting a ballot in the upcoming general election, visit the Department of Elections website at or call toll-free at (800) 552-9745.

Note: The local voter registration office for Bristol Virginia voters is located at Bristol Virginia City Hall, 300 Lee Street, Bristol, Virginia.

Our Calendar for June 2017

The Primary Election: 
  • Mark your calendar to vote in the Democratic primary, Tuesday, June 13, 2017! That is next week, so don’t forget! 
  • If you can’t be here to vote on the 13th, you can vote absentee during regular business hours this week, M-F, 8:00 – 5:00, or on Saturday from 8:00 to 5:00, at the Registrar’s Office at City Hall on Lee Street in Bristol. Thank you to General Registrar Penny Limburg for staying open so folks can vote on Saturday the 10th!
  • For Governor: Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Tom S. Perriello are  both seeking nomination for Governor. Both are excellent candidates! Take a look at their information in advance of the voting on Tuesday, June 13th to make your decision.
  • For Lt. Governor: Justin E. Fairfax, Gene J. Rossi, and Susan S. Platt, again all good candidates. Their platforms are a bit different, so take a few minutes to look at them and make your decision.
  • Attorney General Mark Herring, who’s record of success for Virginia citizens is excellent, is running for re-election. He is unopposed in the Primary, so he will not be on the Primary ballot, but will need your vote in the General Election later!
Border Bash is under way in downtown Bristol
  • Check our on-line calendar at to see the dates and locations. These occur on Friday evenings in the summer, and you can come downtown in Bristol to enjoy the vendors, food, and free music! The Bristol Virginia Democrats will be present from 6:30 to about 8:30 – we will talk with visitors and distribute information until it gets dark, and then we will close up and go listen to the band!
Our regular meetings this month:
  • June 12th: Our Committee Meeting, Monday June 12th, at 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Bristol Virginia Courthouse, 497 Cumberland St., in Bristol, VA. 
  • June 17th: Our breakfast is Saturday, June 17th, at 9:00 a.m. at the Golden Corral, Exit 7 in Bristol. Good conversation, no agenda. Attendees pay separately for breakfast. Join us in the reserved meeting room. Tell the cashier that you are with the Democrats for directions to the meeting space.
  • June 19th: The TN-VA Democratic Social is at the State Line Bar and Grille in downtown Bristol Monday, June 19th, at around 5:00 p.m. This is a social event for Democrats and friends in the surrounding area. It is a good way to meet Democrats on the Committee and talk about the issues.
Remember! June 13 is Primary Day! 
Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Vote!

Virginia Election Data Project: more voter registrations are coming through the Virginia Department of Elections citizen portal on line

(News release from The Virginia Department of Elections, May 17, 2016)

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Elections (the Department) released the Virginia Election Data Project, a collaborative effort with local election officials and the State Board of Elections (SBE), with technical assistance provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.  The Virginia Election Data Project, available at, analyzes election and voter data provided to the Department by local election offices and presents the data visualized in a user-friendly online format.

Highlights from this data analysis include:

·       Highlighting changes in how Virginia voters are choosing to register to vote:  In every year since 2012, the majority of voter registration applications were submitted through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  However, Virginia voters are beginning to rely more heavily on online registration, which was introduced in 2013.  In the first three months of 2016, approximately 40 percent of registrations came via the state’s online registration system, while 33 percent came from the DMV.  Online voter registration is available through the Department’s citizen portal at

·       Preparing for Presidential election year activity:  While Presidential election years generally bring high levels of participation, local election officials can use this tool to see that voter registration activity is almost 35% higher during the first three months of 2016 in comparison to the first three months of 2012.  This allows local election officials to prepare to hire additional staff for processing voter registrations to ensure timely responses to voters.

Governor Terry McAuliffe applauded the release of the Virginia Election Data Project and said, “This approach to data analysis enhances government transparency and accountability as part of my administration’s commitment to make voting more accessible.”  These visualizations enable members of the public to assess their locality’s performance in several areas, such as voter turnout, voter registration application acceptance rates and absentee ballot application processing times.

Virginia continues to be a national leader in leveraging technology and data to improve the voting experience.  Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortés said, “We are delighted to debut the Virginia Election Data Project as part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to improve the administration of elections in the Commonwealth.  This tool allows us to use a data-driven approach to recognize best practices that will result in a better experience for Virginia voters.”

The Department and the SBE will use this data to identify general registrars with the best election administration practices and share them across the state.  James Alcorn, Chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections, said, “This tool helps the Board, policy makers, and the public to better understand and evaluate election administration in Virginia.  This is in line with the Board’s practice of conducting quality reviews of elections with local election administrators.”

The Department of Elections created a working group of local election officials to provide feedback and guidance during development of the Virginia Election Data Project.  Donna Patterson, the City of Virginia Beach General Registrar and a member of the working group, said, “This project provides a useful tool for identifying strengths and challenges in local election offices.  We are building on the long history of working together as an election community to identify ways to better serve our voters.”

“Virginia’s year-long effort to use local-level data to assess and improve the elections process is an important step in identifying what’s working as well as where there are challenges,” said Sean Greene, project director for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ election initiatives.  “This is a good example of how states can bring together local officials to both share best practices and take a hard look at how to improve election administration.”  Pew’s election initiatives examine pressing election problems, share successful practices, and undertake projects to help states implement efficient and cost-effective solutions.

The working group of local election officials that assisted the Department consisted of Tammy Alexander, Electoral Board member, City of Petersburg; April Cain, Electoral Board member, Henrico County; Lisa Jeffers, Director of Elections, City of Waynesboro; Bill Lewis, Electoral Board member, City of Hampton; Margaret Marcenelle, Electoral Board member, Mecklenburg County; John Nunnaly, Electoral Board member, Caroline County; Donna Patterson, General Registrar, City of Virginia Beach; Greg Riddlemoser, Director of Elections, Stafford County; and Allison Robbins, Director of Elections, Wise County.

The Virginia Election Data Project is available at ###

Reorganization in December, 2015

The Call to Caucus will be posted on this web page. If you are a resident of Bristol, Virginia, and are a Democrat, please come out to join us.

We will be meeting on December 14th at the Bristol Virginia Courthouse as usual, with the Membership meeting at 6:00 p.m. followed immediately by the regular meeting. New members will be admitted, and new officers elected.

Watch for the Call to Caucus, which will be posted next week, and join us for this exciting year in 2016!

Find your polling place and vote

by Sarah Williams

Where do I go to vote?

Who should I vote for? Hopefully you have done your homework and understand the ballot! Here in Bristol I am recommending:

  • U.S. Senate – Senator Mark R. Warner, who will be with us at the Washington County Potluck, Saturday Nov. 1, at 5:00 p.m.! Come to Abingdon High School, 601-727 Thompson Drive in Abingdon, bring food, eat with us, cheer our Senator on, and vote for him on Nov. 4th.
  • House of Representatives – I can usually choose a candidate, but in this race there is nobody that I consider a good representative of the Ninth District. Griffith has not continued the initiatives that Rick Boucher had going for us, he did not take care of Glade after the tornado, and he has not looked after the interest of the Ninth in jobs, infrastructure, and health care. Carr has nothing to run on except that he thinks that Griffith is too liberal and not as dedicated to the extreme right social agenda. So I might just write in Rick Boucher, as I have heard other Democrats are doing. And I will set aside money from my Christmas fund to support a Democrat to run in two years. Step up, folks! We need someone to continue the Boucher tradition of service in the Ninth.
  • Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Yes. Of course yes.
  • Clerk of Court – Kelly Flannagan Duffy for reasons too numerous to mention. If you have been paying attention, you know the reasons already. If not, check out the link. Or you can come tonight at 7:00 p.m. to the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, 20 Volunteer Pkwy, Bristol TN, and meet Kelly in person. Actually, do both. This is important.

And that is the whole ballot, folks! November 4, 2014. Make a difference – do your homework and vote!

The reality we have

By Sarah Williams

Today I received a question from a constituent about the debates by our state-wide candidates here in Virginia:

When do they face-off, in a objective neutral debate, before the voters, on neutral turf, no screening of supporters other than simple security measures, no frisking or illicit search and seizure, in front of typical Virginia voters, no packed audiences prejudiced to either political spectrum, no reporters and commentators?

Personally I think this is a bit much to ask, but it is a fair question. Our reality is that the candidate’s message is mediated by the influence of money and powerful groups. The Chamber of Commerce is perhaps the most powerful group. As for money, Citizens United made big business, including energy and banking, the greatest influence in money both directly and through lobbyists.

Money and powerful groups influence voters as well as candidates. In Virginia and elsewhere, voters are manipulated to be more concerned with the deficit than with their own quality of life or the future of their children. Many actually fear that the country is broke when it is not, and to help the country, they lower their expectations in food, housing, education, and wages. Others fear the wrath of God because President Obama is a Muslim and not every citizen is a Christian. So a typical voter cannot be defined by any shared measurable reality like income, family size and type, gender, employment, or age. The electorate is divided along lines drawn by religious and political rhetoric, designed to generate anxiety and move people psychologically rather than rationally.

Publicly-funded elections would solve some problems of influence on the candidate’s message, and later the elected official’s legislative agenda. Manipulation of the electorate will be more difficult to address, and it is hardly possible to envision how we might get to publicly-funded elections without some awakening in the electorate to a shared reality.