Political science grad challenges Va. House speaker

Sheila Bynum-Coleman is running against Kirk Cox in Virginia's 66th District. Photo courtesy of Sheila Bynum-Coleman

Macy Pressley, Contributing Writer

Concern for her children brought VCU graduate Sheila Bynum-Coleman to leave her career as a realtor to pursue politics. Now, she’s running against the Republican House Speaker. 

“I started running for office because my son has a learning disability and I wasn’t able to get him what he needed,” Bynum-Coleman said. “I went to my delegate and asked for a 15 minute meeting, he said no. That prompted me to run against him. Then, in 2016, my daughter was shot. So, I ran again.” 

Her opponent, current House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1990. He served as majority whip from 2004-2010, before being elected speaker in 2018.

Cox has won most of his elections with ease. From 1997 to 2015, he ran entirely unopposed. This year, every seat in the Virginia House of Delegates is up for election, and Republicans hold a slim majority. 

The U.S. District Court imposed a redrawn congressional map after ruling that the state’s previous districts were gerrymandered. The 66th District, and 10 other districts in Virginia, was affected, and was redrawn to include more democratic voters. 

Bynum-Coleman has run for the House of Delegates twice before, and was narrowly defeated in a heavily conservative district. Campaigning on criminal justice reform and higher teacher pay, she said she can relate to even conservative voters.

“Even when I ran in a district that was very Republican, the issues were still there,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, people still want to make sure the teachers are paid, they want to see an increase in the minimum wage.”

Bynum-Coleman has taken a pledge to not take money from Dominion Energy, the biggest lobbying force in the state. She said if elected, her signature issue would be getting lobbying money out of politics.

She is a champion for gun safety laws, as well as women’s rights initiatives such as the Equal Rights Amendment. She is strongly opposed to offshore drilling and wants to push Virginia toward a carbon-neutral economy.

“Even though these might seem like partisan issues, they’re really not, ‘cause people want the same basic rights,” she added.  

Bynum-Coleman also credited her alma mater, VCU, for spurring her interest in politics and teaching her to stand up for herself. 

“I think VCU has such a culture of togetherness and doing what’s right,” Bynum-Coleman said. “When I was in school, there were so many people who stood up for what was right, even when it didn’t affect them.”

Bynum-Colman recalled going to a speaker series on issues transgender people face. The audience was engaged, she said, and asked a lot of questions. She says exposure to diversity made her the candidate she is today.

“I studied political science at VCU, I learned about politics,” she said. “I also learned about doing what’s right, and in the General Assembly, we need more people to do that,” she said.

Elections for the Virginia House of Delegates race will be held Nov. 5 and polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

1 Comment

  1. BIG HURRAH FOR CANDIDATE SHEILA BYNAM-COLEMAN AGAINST A POSSIBLY OUTDATED OPPONENT KIRK COX. IT SEEMS TIME TO GENTLY PUT HIM OUT TO PASTURE FOR SEVERAL REASONS. THE MOST OBNOXIOUS ONE IS THAT HE IS AGAINST SEX DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MEN AS WELL AS WOMEN!
    SEX DISCRIMINATION WILL BE SEEN LEGALLY AS A VIOLATION OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION!! Imagine That , Ladies!..Rape adjudicated finally as the soul-searing CRIME that it IS…Sex-equal TREATMENT nationwide.

    After all, we are all born as equal human beings but somehow, societal mores have put little girls and women subject to all kinds of misbegotten 2nd class citizenship, demeaned, underpaid, beaten by men and raped by them, trafficked, groped, stalked!! MEN and boys do not suffer all of these. They ARE mentioned in the nation;s contract with its People. WOMEN ARE NOT except for their hardwon right to vote. SOUND LIKE A DEMOCRACY TO YOU, COX? or maybe you don’t care, like lots of men WHO MUST be at The Top.

    THAT’S WHY CANDIDATE COX IS WRONG TO prevent a real representative democracy to win out in America!
    The Equal Rights Amendment, striven for for almost exactly 100 years, states simply: “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State ON ACCOUNT OF SEX.” SEX-EQUAL TREATMENT as guaranteed by this Constitutional Amendment will:
    1. Make Sex Discrimination against Male Or Female a Constitutional Violation!
    2. According to Economist experts, will cause our Gross Domestic Product/GDP to Soar by 15% as noted by Other, Wiser Nations already codifying this Amendment’s similar wording! THE IMF, the UN, and the OECD all ditto all these benefits.
    3. Require no funding!
    4. Has no effect, detrimental or otherwise on abortion or divorce rates–>BOTH ARE LOWER IN STATES ALREADY EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT-RATIFIED despite the deliberate monsterizing of it by opponents who benefit by patriarchal legislators who coax corporate donorships.
    5. Men who are misjudged in matters of child support, alimony etc. will benefit.
    6. This Amendment will act to “stabilize communities” (U.N.) and begin to heal this wounded nation as we all recognize every human’s civil rights to recognize that What Happens to One Sex, Impacts the Other. America CAN be whole again, as a caring nation, quite capable of forgiveness and love.
    These would be all clarified by Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. These Amendment’s benefits are not small ones. They are indeed overdue. Equal Rights Amendment is undeniably WIN-WIN for all.There IS NO DOWNSIDE.
    Candidate Cox seems to reject these benefits for no good reason. Do YOU, as VOTER?

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