Our Candidates

Running to protect the fragile Democratic majority in Virginia

Debra Gardner (HD-27)

  • Lived in Chesterfield County for almost thirty years.
  • Holds a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in Social Work from North Carolina Central University.
  • Served as an adjunct Professor teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • Over thirty years of public service experience, providing leadership in human services, public safety, and criminal justice.
  • Career as a social worker and counselor, and later senior executive service.
  • Leadership positions at three state agencies, giving her a unique understanding of government operations and fiscal management.
  • Serving on various boards and committees within her community, including The Commonwealth Domestic Violence Prevention Response and the Virginia Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee.

Elizabeth Guzman (HD-31)

  • Came to the United States more than two decades ago as a young single mother with only $300 in her pocket and worked three minimum wage jobs.
  • Earned two master's degrees, building a career as a social worker who protected children from abuse.
  • Oversees a $20 million operating budget for the City of Alexandria’s Department of Adult Services.
  • Ran for Delegate and defeated a 16-year-Republican incumbent in Virginia's 2017 Blue Wave, one of the first two Latinx women elected to the House of Delegates.
  • Passed 25 bills, serves as Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, is a co-founder of the Virginia Green New Deal and was named a 2020 "Legislative Leader" by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and "Legislator of the Year" by the Virginia Education Association and by the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.
  • Passed historic legislation to lift Virginia's blanket ban on public sector collective bargaining, chief co-patron of the bill to raise the minimum wage, and is leading the fight for a paid sick days law.
  • A mother to four.

Joshua Cole (HD-28)

  • Lived in Fredericksburg & Stafford County his entire life, raised by a single mother.
  • Served on Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent's Equity, Diversity and Opportunity Committee; a member of the Greater Fredericksburg Area Interfaith Council and the former President of the Stafford County NAACP; an Associate Pastor at Union Bell Baptist Church in South Stafford and the Chairman of the House of Clergy for the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches.
  • Has seen first-hand the ever-increasing cost of living in this community, and has sat down with hardworking friends and neighbors.
  • Ran for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 to represent Virginia’s 28th District, becoming the first African-American and youngest person to receive any party's nomination in the district.
  • Won that race in 2019, becoming one of the youngest members elected to the Virginia General Assembly.
  • Serves on the Virginia House Committees on Education, Public Safety and Chesapeake, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Voted to increase access to affordable healthcare, raise the minimum wage and make community college tuition free.

How We Get Our Candidates

Sister District's national organization identifies states where the state legislative chambers can be flipped blue or have fragile blue majorities. Sister District then offers support to those Democratic candidates who can realistically win a potentially close election for their state legislative seats (see more). Sister District is particularly proud to support women, candidates of color, and other candidates from diverse communities and backgrounds so that we can help build a democracy that reflects the full chorus of American voices. Candidates endorsed by Sister District are then assigned to Sister District chapters across the USA. Chapter volunteers phonebank, fundraise, postcard, and textbank for their candidates.

Since our founding in 2017, SD South Bay has supported numerous compelling leaders, such 2020 candidates as Ann Johnson (TX), Amanda White Eagle (WI), Ann Johnson Stewart (MN), Lorenzo Sanchez (TX), Sara Rodriguez (WI), and Nancy Guenst (PA). Our past candidates have included Debra Rodman (VA), Pam Iovino (PA), Tammy Story (CO), Josh Cole (VA), Tammy Savoie (LA), and Faith Winters (CO).

Join us to support these candidates and our mission to bring progressive power to the states!