A native of Hampton, Martha attended middle and high school in Poquoson before earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Radford University in Southwest Virginia.
Prior to her election to the House, Martha worked for many years in higher education, public relations, and banking. A veteran of the banking industry, Martha has worked closely with small businesses to help them thrive and support job growth in the district.
Martha is deeply committed to her community and especially children. She has been recognized by the Barrett-Peake Foundation for her contributions to the Peninsula, by the Coalition of Justice for Civil Rights for outstanding service to the community, and by the Virginia Education Association as the Rookie Legislator of the Year. She also earned the Coastal Virginia Renaissance Award from the Hampton Arts Foundation for contributions to the local arts community.
As Delegate, Martha brings a lifelong passion for education and a deep understanding of the communities that make up the 91st District. She became involved in politics through her election to the Hampton School Board in 2008. Seeking to provide the best possible education to the children of the district, Martha served on the school board for twelve years, and was Chair of the Board for four years.
Since her election to the House, Martha has helped pass many pieces of legislation that improved the lives of everyday Virginians. If elected to a second term, Martha will build on the momentum of her productive first term and focus on economic recovery and job growth, education, healthcare, and the environment.
In 2019, the people elected Martha to the Virginia House of Delegates. Martha ran on a platform of improving public education, protecting the environment, and expanding access to affordable, quality healthcare. Throughout her first term in office, Martha delivered on her promises to voters, working with both Democrats and Republicans on legislation supporting economic recovery and jobs programs for Virginia’s post-COVID economy. She also passed legislation that improved healthcare access and expanded voting rights. Martha fought for a Commonwealth Budget that provided for the 5% teacher salary increase, as well as established the division of Offshore Wind in the Commonwealth to protect the environment and create clean energy jobs.
She has worked with the Democratic majority in the House to pass HB1638, which removed discriminatory racial codes that have been on the books for generations. They also passed HB66 to put a $50 price cap on insulin because nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table or buying a potentially life-saving prescription.
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Martha believes small businesses and job growth are the essential backbone of the 91st District economy. Building on her experience supporting small businesses during her career in banking, Martha’s primary goal for her next term will be to ensure small businesses and jobs come back stronger than ever.
As Delegate, she chief co-patroned the Virginia Outdoor Refreshment Area bill, which provides a lifeline to restaurants by making it easier to serve alcohol outdoors. She also promoted the Rebuild VA Grant Fund to assist small businesses during the pandemic, and co-patroned a program that establishes tuition-free community college for middle to low-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields. Martha also serves on the Go Virginia Board (Growth & Opportunity) which has placed a focus and emphasis on supporting businesses and industry hardest hit during the pandemic with workforce development and growth opportunities for a stronger post COVID economy.
Martha wants to ensure that all Virginians have access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. During her first term, Martha protected individuals with pre-existing conditions and limited prices on prescription drugs. Martha is also passionate about improving access to healthcare for women, including high-quality reproductive care.
Martha dedicated over a decade to local education as a member of the Hampton School Board. She improved funding for public education from pre-school to in-state higher education. As a member of the Committee on Education in Richmond, Martha worked hard during her first term to be an advocate for teachers and students. In her second term, Martha will continue to push for increased educator pay and high quality education for all students.
The 91st District’s position on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay puts it in a critical spot. Martha believes in investing in coastal resilience programs to strengthen the shoreline throughout the 91st District. Martha sees investing in renewable energy like offshore wind as an opportunity to create jobs and make Virginia a hub for energy on the East coast.
Martha believes in the rights of all Virginians, regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. During her first term, Martha is proud to have helped pass a number of bills ensuring equal rights. These included passing the Equal Rights Amendment, expanding the Virginia Human Rights Act to include those with disabilities, and prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. If elected to a second term, Martha will continue to fight for equality.
In just four years, Democrats have seen an impressive and almost unprecedented swing to majority, with more than 20 seats gained over two election cycles. With gains so recent, Republicans are eager to take advantage of this dynamic, where characteristically moderate “bellwether” districts ebb and flow to give way to national political trends, waiting for the pendulum to swing back in their favor. The 2021 House of Delegates elections are sure to be a test of Democrats’ ability to hold Trump Era gains in a post-Trump climate.
The Commonwealth has long faced the consequences of political gerrymandering. District boundaries have been a hot topic of conversation in past years. In 2020, the Virginia legislature voted to create a bipartisan committee to handle the creation of new electoral maps; Bipartisan redistricting is now in the hands of a 16 member committee which was on a tight timeline to use 2020 census data to announce adjusted districts for the upcoming House of Delegates elections in November 2021. The original plan had the committee producing new maps by April 2020, but delayed census data from the federal government has made new maps in time to give the state board of elections, localities, and partisans time to effectively prepare for and hold elections unlikely. As of now, the most likely scenario remains that 2021 will see no new maps, instead districts will remain the same this year with new districts only taking effect in 2023.