September 16, 2021
Candidate Spotlight: Nancy Guy

 
This is a transcript of an interview with Sister District Organizing and Political Director Jarvis Houston that originally appeared on Facebook Live. Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity. To watch the full video, view it on Sister District Facebook.

Jarvis Houston:
Great. Good afternoon to some, good evening everyone. My name is Jarvis Houston. I’m the National Organizing and Political Director here at Sister District Project. I am excited to have Nancy Guy.

Nancy Guy is a fighter. She won by 41 votes in 2019. Let me repeat, 41. That’s the difference between 41 people waking up in the morning and deciding to vote for Nancy Guy, who’s our delegate for the 83rd district, which represents parts of Virginia Beach in Norfolk in the great Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

Jarvis Houston:
She’s a true Virginian through and through. She attended public schools in Virginia. She went to the great College of William & Mary, and the great law school the University of Virginia School of Law. Which, one of my closest friends also went there. And more importantly, she’s so passionate about public education. My mother was a teacher, so I understand the power of education.

Jarvis Houston:
And not only is she a delegate, not only does she serve on the school board, but she also, more importantly, I saw the picture, she’s got beautiful grandkids. She’s a mother and she’s a grandmother. So, before she’s a delegate before she’s anything else, she’s a mother first and a grandmother before anything else. And I saw her beautiful family pictures. So go on her website to look at her beautiful family pictures. My mother also had cancer. She’s a fighter as I said in the beginning. She’s cancer and breast cancer survivor. After she beat breast cancer-

Nancy Guy:
Nine years.

Jarvis Houston:
Six years. So if you’re-

Nancy Guy:
Nine.

Jarvis Houston:
If you’re watching, you can give a hand to Nancy Guy. My mother also fought and beat breast cancer. So it’s personal to me, Delegate Guy. So it is important that we all have awareness of cancer. She fought it, she beat it. Now she’s fighting for every resident in the state of Virginia.

And because of representatives like Delegate Guy, in these two short years, they expanded Medicaid. Senior citizens should not decide between food and prescription drugs because we have a fighter like Nancy Guy that understands the power of healthcare for all, because she beat breast cancer.

After breast cancer, she stopped, she’s quit, she liquidized her company. She decided to focus on what’s important in this world, what’s important for all of us. She decided to focus on family and number two, focus on the people of Virginia. And she decided to run for office. And we’re sure happy that she made this decision.

Jarvis Houston:
In two short years, she has sponsored, built, and expanded a childcare subsidy program to serve families in the state. Again, as I said, she’s a fighter and one of her most important issues she’s passionate about is education and public education. Childcare subsidy falls into education because we start educating our kids when they’re infants and they grow all the way into when they’re 22 when they finish college.

Jarvis Houston:
She’s also a champion to build a prohibitive release of non-biodegradable balloons to protect wildlife and reduce litter. Environment. Why are we speaking about the environment today? Because the environment is not about tomorrow. It’s not about next week or next month. It’s about our children and our great-great-great-great-grandchildren. It’s something that we all have to focus on. It might not be the top kitchen table issue, but it should be the top kitchen table issue.

Jarvis Houston:
So, Delegate Guy, we’ll ask you a few questions so we can get to know you and understand you more. We already know you’re a fighter, but we also want to talk a little bit about the environment.

From previous interviews, you said you expected some pushback in regard to the balloon bill, but it was important to bring attention to the environmental dangers that plastic foil and latex balloon litter presents to Virginia wildlife and natural areas. Can you expand on those dangers and how you managed to get the bill passed, despite the anticipated pushback?

Nancy Guy:
Thank you, Jarvis. That was quite an introduction.

The balloon bill has been important to the city of Virginia Beach for 10 years because we live along the coast and balloon debris is a major hazard to coastal areas. We had a study done during that time that found over 11,000 pieces of balloon and balloon debris along 10 miles of our remote beaches. It was the most prevalent form of debris among remote beaches.

Nancy Guy:
The bill was brought to me by the city of Virginia Beach and by the people at the Virginia Aquarium here in Virginia Beach, who came and testified en masse about the impact on marine life; how many necropsies had to be performed on turtles, and so forth.

So that was the main motivator for it. But once I actually got started moving with the bill, I found a lot of friends I didn’t expect, and two in particular. One was the Farmer’s Bureau because farmers hate them because they come down in fields and pastures; they foul combines [tracker/harvester] and farming equipment quite a lot. So they were actually very supportive.

Nancy Guy:
A most unexpected ally was the power companies, Dominion and Appalachian Power. 20% nationwide of power failures are actually caused by balloons becoming fouled in power lines. 20%, that’s one in five!

Most recently, one of the major fires in California was actually ignited by a mylar balloon, becoming tangled in a high tension transformer and causing a sparking incident that ignited the dried brush and galloped out of control.

Nancy Guy:
I often say… before I hopped over here, that’s why I was a little bit late, I was doing a presentation with the league of conservation voters because I’m one of their champion legislators this year… that every problem, and especially environmental problems, is generally a mosaic of smaller problems. And that is especially true of climate change and environmental problems. And this was both a finite problem, but also a mosaic of a bigger problem. So we banned the intentional release of balloons.

Nancy Guy:
I had unexpected allies because of the… but I also had unexpected pushback. And for the most part, the pushback was simply partisan, ya know? “ Freedom.” “Don’t tell me to wear a mask. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t ever tell me what to do. This is silly enough.” So I don’t think that most people that do balloon releases, intentional balloon releases, either ceremonial. Usually, they’re ceremonial. People do them for memorials or for celebrations. They don’t do it out of malice, they do it out of ignorance.

Nancy Guy:
But the balloons don’t float up to heaven. They do come down, they do cause special forms of debris, especially marine debris. There’s an island of marine debris in the Pacific ocean that is now twice the size of Texas. You can actually see it from space. And the only way to get rid of marine debris is to stop letting stuff fall in our oceans. And balloons are a major cause of that. I’m proud to say that in the Atlantic, no balloons released from Virginia are going to be making it any larger.

Nancy Guy:
So I had to do some “horse-trading” and really struggle to get it through, but I am actually proud that after 10 years, Virginia Beach got what they wanted.

It is actually the subject of an ad that we’re doing, not so much to highlight the environmental impact of the balloon bill. It’s gotten a lot of good press down here. Yesterday knocking doors, I had two people actually thank me for it. But because it highlights how my focus as a public servant is on listening to people I represent, their concerns, their problems, and taking those small problems that are at the mosaic that makes up the big problems and trying to solve them. So I’m proud they’ve done it on this one small piece of a very big problem, which is plastics, marine debris.

Jarvis Houston:
Thank you, Delegate Guy. So anyone that may have an issue with your power bill or your energy, it might not be the electric company. It might be a balloon! [laughs]

Nancy Guy:
It might be a balloon. [laughs]

Jarvis Houston:
It might just be a balloon. So thank you Delegate Guy for your leadership on a very important bill. I want to talk about another important bill, the tree conservation bill.

Your tree conservation bill gives local leaders more latitude to protect and expand tree cover during development, particularly in marginalized communities such as previously redlined neighborhoods [that are] predominantly homes to people of color.

With the rise in temperatures, urban hot zones, and continuous development, please explain the importance of the tree conservation in the face of climate change and how tree planting and conservation can help compact environmental inequality.

Nancy Guy:
Well, again, it’s part of that mosaic. Big problems that are… Mosaics are small problems. Trees are an incredibly easy solution to a very big problem.

Trees do three very important things. Well, four. They suck up carbon dioxide and spew out oxygen, which is really, really important as we face climate change. Two, they prevent erosion because they hold the land. Three, they soak up a lot of water. So for areas like mine that are subject to recurrent coastal flooding, not just because of sea-level rise, but because of more recurrent storms and land subsidence due to the depletion of the water table, they really help with that. And four, they provide shade, which cools the planet overall, cools the people who live on the planet overall.

Nancy Guy:
So Virginia has a strange political structure, which as a former local elected official I hate, called the Dillon Rule. Now there are other Dillon Rule states, but what the Dillon Rule says is that every municipality, whether it’s a city or a county or a town, is a vehicle of the state, and they only have power that is extended by the state. So if their charter or specific statute doesn’t give a locality the authority to do something, then they can’t do it, whether it’s set tax rates, or school policy, or speed limits. It’s crazy.

Nancy Guy:
In certain areas, there’s been very broad authority granted, speed limits for example. But in the area of building development, we have not granted very broad authority and we have a very small, lowest common denominator baseline when it comes to tree replacement and tree retention in development. And it’s not strong enough for many of the urban areas. It may be fine for a lot of the rural areas, but not so much for the urban areas. We’re losing 16,000 acres of trees a year in Virginia to development and we got to do something about it.

Nancy Guy:
So what my bill did was, it didn’t set new standards across the board, but simply gave localities the authority to require a greater retention of trees or a more accelerated replacement of trees in four areas. One where they were fell in the Chesapeake Bay, clean the watershed, so that they had to do with [inaudible 00:12:07].

Two, where they addressed flooding issues under the water quality plan filed with the EQ. Three, where they provided increased density in areas that have been previously redlined and were identified as urban hotspots. And it’s all very specifically defined. And four, this was the one the developers really gawked at, that provided greater flexibility under the development plan already adopted by the locality.

Nancy Guy:
Now, what it did was previously, this authority had been extended to some localities in Northern Virginia within a certain planning zone. And so basically all I did was expand that to the state as a whole.

Oh, and not only does it do that, it also has a provision for the establishment of tree banks around the Commonwealth, much like we do with wetlands banks retention under the Chesapeake Bay Act, because part of the solution is just to have more trees in the Commonwealth as a whole. So that’s what it does.

Nancy Guy:
Again, a small solution to a big problem. It ran into some problems. It has a study this year. So it comes up for reenactment in January. Dave Morrison, who is my Senate colleague… I pushed it through in its original form through the House, but it wasn’t going to make it through the Senate without that solution.

Fortunately again, I have the Farm Bureau and the Forestry folks on… The forestry folks really like it because tree banks are going to be a help to them financially. But the Builder’s Association has stood in the way and it got sidetracked into this study for a year under the Office of National Resources, that’s what became of it.

They’ll bring it back in January and hopefully will reauthorize it as planned. That’s certainly my plan. I should have the votes in the House and we’ll see what happens in the Senate. Needless to say, the Builder’s Association is not a donor to Nancy Guy. [laughs]

Jarvis Houston:
Right, right, right [laughs]

Thank you so much again for your leadership. And my favorite is number four, the shade part, the trees. I love nature. I live in Chicago. I go to the forest preserve for relief five times a week to relax, read a book, and sit under the tree for shade. So number four is my all-time favorite.

One last question before we end, Delegate Guy, I know you’re extremely busy. Our goal is to make sure that you win on November 2nd. Again, everyone knows she’s running for reelection and her election’s on November 2nd.

Nancy Guy:
Early voting starts on September 17th!

Jarvis Houston:
And early voting starts September 17th! Election day is November 2nd!

Early voting starts September 17th. Labor Day is around the corner. We’re going to eat good on Labor Day. Then, once you eat, join your family and tell your family that September 17th starts early voting. And early voting because of the Democrats, in a short two years, they made voting easier for everyone. Let me repeat it!

Nancy Guy:
In Virginia.

Jarvis Houston:
In Virginia. We’re not talking about the country, we’re talking about the state of Virginia. We can’t save the world, but Nancy Guy has saved Virginia as far as expanding voting rights, which is extremely important in this country.

Nancy Guy:
I’m very proud of that vote. Virginia went from the 49th most difficult place to cast a ballot to being the 12th easiest.

Jarvis Houston:
Let me repeat this stat from Delegate Guy.

Nancy Guy:
And I promise you that if we lose the Democratic majority, that will be gone in the first couple weeks.

Jarvis Houston:
So please everyone in this call… 49th! It went from 49 because of the Democratic majority. They went to 12th to expand voter rights because we all have the right to vote. And Delegate Guy was one of the fighters that made this happen.

My last question to you… So thank you for your leadership on such an important national issue, but you made this a local issue and you fought and made you expanded voter rights and went from 49 to 12th. That is not easy!

Nancy Guy:
Well, I think that’s what’s so important about Sister District. I always quipped my Sister District supporters, that you guys are the ones who put the “united” in the United States because you really understand that even though we’re segmented into different geographic and political entities. We really are one nation and we really are united! And what we do here in Virginia on voting rights has a dramatic impact on people in the other 49 states. What we do on the environment has a dramatic impact on the other 49 states. If we’re not doing our little piece of the mosaic, then it impacts the big picture for everybody.

Nancy Guy:
So I really do appreciate all of you for recognizing that and not being parochial. Taking your energy and resources, and channeling them to those of us that need it. You have been the difference makers in Virginia. We have shown you what is possible when we have the resources to turn our state around from being solidly red, to being deeply purple, to being blue in four short years.

And this election is so important to solidify that as we go into redistricting and have to protect it moving forward. If we get through this year and the midterms, then I think Virginia will start to be a state that can be on the other side of the Sister District spectrum, and start helping our neighbors to the South, in North Carolina or in Georgia, to emulate what we’ve been able to achieve. Not just by being an example of what’s possible, but by becoming established enough that we can start utilizing our resources to help others in other states. But thank you so much for everything you do.

Jarvis Houston:
No, no, absolutely. And as Delegate Guy stated, Virginia is the bellwether for what happens in 2022, when we have so many midterm elections. Then in 2024, when Trump is coming back. So now in 2021, we have to work to protect the majority in Virginia.

Jarvis Houston:
My last question to you, Delegate Guy, in your time as a state delegate, what has been your most memorable moment in the last two years?

Nancy Guy:
Gosh, my most memorable moment in the last two years?

Jarvis Houston:
I’m sure you have a few, but the most.

Nancy Guy:
Nobody’s asked me that! People have asked for my proudest vote. My proudest vote was to repeal the death penalty here in Virginia.

Jarvis Houston:
That’s a moment.

Nancy Guy:
I guess that’s a moment.

Jarvis Houston:
That’s a moment.

Nancy Guy:
And I served on the criminal law subcommittee of the court’s committee. And so I got to vote for it six times, both the House bill three times and the Senate bill three times. And I just consider that such an important moral victory because the Republicans would just get up and they would talk and talk and talk about all these beautiful young women that had been heinously murdered. And you just wanted to scream at them, “The death penalty existed and it still had happened! It didn’t prevent it. It has no deterrent effect!”

Jarvis Houston:
True.

Nancy Guy:
And the murder, subsequently of their murderer, did not bring those beautiful young women back. But the death penalty isn’t important for what it says about the murderers, it’s important for what it says about us. What does it say about us?

Jarvis Houston:
Correct.

Nancy Guy:
So that I consider my most memorable vote. I was just proud to take it. Most memorable moment. I-

Jarvis Houston:
No, that is a memorable moment. So you don’t have to think anymore.

Nancy Guy:
Some of my most memorable moments have been, I think, in the criminal subcommittee just because of the very nature of what we’re discussing. My favorite part of my job is the work I do on the Agriculture Natural Resources committee, which is where all the environmental bills come. And it’s been the reason that I have worked hard on that particular bill [ non-biodegradable balloon release].

Jarvis Houston:
Thank you, Delegate Guy. Her website is guyfordelegate.com

Help her knock on doors, make phone calls. More importantly, donate $5, $10, $20. Do everything in your power to help Delegate Guy win. She’s a delegate. She was a small business owner. She’s a grandmother, mother, and a cancer survivor. So she’s a fighter!

Nancy Guy:
I’m all those things.

Jarvis Houston:
She’s a fighter and she’s here to work for you and to work with you. And she’s here to make sure that she continues to vote on issues that matter.

Nancy Guy:
Well, I want to say a little bit. It’s not just that I’m so wonderful. The opponent that I defeated in 2019 was somebody I’d gone to high school with and then knew him for 40 plus, 45 years. He was not a bad person, he just voted wrong. He’d been in the general assembly for 10 years. He was very entrenched. His family is very well connected politically. The fact that I beat him was pretty surprising to a lot of people in a district that had gone to Trump in 2016. It did go to Biden last year, so we’re seeing a demographic shift.

We’re seeing, I think an intellectual shift amongst the electorate at large, but the Republicans have decided this time to nominate somebody against me who is really extreme. He both owns a gun shop and practices law in an office that’s appended to that gun shop. He as a lawyer has represented every crazy, right-wing cause you can imagine.

He was one of the organizers of the “Citizens Defense League Second Amendment Sanctuary Cities Movement of Virginia.” He is representing people who stormed the capital on January 6th. He has stated publicly that “they are good, patriotic Americans.” He is representing a police officer in Norfolk who was discharged for donating money to Kyle Rittenhouse, the young man who murdered two Black Lives Matter protestors in Kenosha.

He represented Amanda Chase, the Senator here in Virginia who insists on carrying a gun on the floor of the Senate, and her lawsuit against the Senate. The list is long and storied. He thinks that the job is to stir the pot of the culture war and to run towards every dispute, and I consider him dangerous.

Everybody said I should be happy that I had such an extreme opponent because it left the middle open, but messaging is necessary because people just aren’t paying attention. And I have this 44% lump of Republicans in my district that will vote for whatever has an R behind its name. So I have to be established with the independents, with the middle partisans to get out my message about how extreme his policies, positions, and indeed character is.

Nancy Guy:
Last time the race was a little bit of an adventure. I was running against a tenure incumbent nobody thought I could beat.

Jarvis Houston:
41 votes.

Nancy Guy:
I had a plan. The plan worked.

This time there’s tremendous pressure because not only do I want to retain the Democratic majority here in Virginia, I want to prevent somebody so extreme from becoming part of the General Assembly. So this race is more important than my last one. And again, it’s not because I’m so wonderful, but it’s because of what’s at stake, because people like him put our entire democracy at risk. And that’s what’s at risk here. If we lose the majority in Virginia…

Let’s be clear in 2020, our democracy held because the institutions of our democracy held, but they just barely held. And in state after state, they are under assault. Please don’t let Virginia become another one of those states, please. I’m doing everything I can to keep it from happening and I appreciate anything you can do to keep it from happening.

Jarvis Houston:
So thank you again, Delegate Guy. Again, her opponent, I’m not going to say his name, because we’re not here to talk about our opponent, give him any type of gas in his pedals, but he is bad for Virginia because he’s not here to bring the people together, he is here to is separate the people.
And Nancy Guy is here to bring everyone together and she’s the exact opposite. So again, thank you so much, Delegate Guy. Go to guyfordelegate.com

Nancy Guy:
Can I take you with me to introduce me at other places? You did such a nice job!

Jarvis Houston:
Oh, I’m here for you! So whenever you need me I’m here to support you. So have a good evening. I know you’re going to talk to your kids and your grandkids to give them kisses. So thank you so much for being a great mother and a grandmother.

Nancy Guy:
My grandkids don’t live here in town sadly, so I won’t get to give them kisses until… I’m going up on Labor Day weekend.

Jarvis Houston:
Oh, okay. So enjoy your family on Labor Day weekend, Delegate Guy!

Nancy Guy:
I haven’t seen them since Father’s Day.

Jarvis Houston:
Oh, it’s going to be great. It’d be wonderful for you to get to see your grandkids. I know you’re happy.

Nancy Guy:
Thank you.

Jarvis Houston:
All right then. Thank you, Delegate Guy. Everybody have a great evening. Bye-bye.