People Power Virginia announces board leadership, endorsements

Seven new and long-time environmental justice activists from across the state will serve as board members of People Power Virginia, the three-month-old political action committee for non-federal elections in Virginia.

The non-partisan PAC, organized in May 2019, supports candidates who oppose new fracked-gas transmission pipelines and who support responsible energy infrastructure, ecological health and climate justice, First Amendment rights and climate disobedience, and good governance.

The seven-member board includes university professor Emily Satterwhite of Blacksburg; attorney Tammy Belinsky of Copper Hill; university administrator John “Jack” Lesko of Blacksburg; 350 Loudoun organizer Amanda Tandy of Leesburg; 350 Loudoun organizer Chris Tandy of Leesburg; and the Rev. Weston Mathews of The Plains and the Rev. Robert Dilday of Richmond, co-directors of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice. Recognizing the need to act locally to address the climate crisis, People Power’s founders first began working with one another in 2018 as part of a statewide uprising against new fracked gas infrastructure in Virginia, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the Southside Connector.


Photo Credit: FrankRamspott

“We will support candidates who do not accept funding from Dominion Energy, EQT, MVP, or their lobbyists or their political and legal allies, including Ralph Northam and Dick Saslaw,” said Satterwhite, who chairs the board.

Four features distinguish People Power Virginia from other PACs, Satterwhite added:

  • A strong focus on environmental justice and the intersection of racial, gender, and economic justice during our climate emergency;
  • Reliance on funding from people across a broad economic spectrum who will be invited to participate in governance and other PAC activities;
  • Opposition to legislative attempts to increase penalties for civil disobedience in resisting new fossil-fuel infrastructure;
  • Readiness to support new and bold candidates in both primaries and general elections.

People Power Virginia will host a series of fundraisers in strategic locations across the state in the months ahead, including a September 1 house party in Blacksburg, Virginia, featuring its first round of endorsements, six Southwest Virginia candidates opposed to the Mountain Valley Pipeline: People Power Champions Darlene Lewis (HD-8), Flo Ketner (S-19), Rhonda Seltz (HD-7), Eric Stamps (HD-14) and Delegate Sam Rasoul (HD-11), and People Power Leader Delegate Chris Hurst (HD-12).

People Power Champions not only decline funding directly from fossil fuel corporations and their political allies but also from the House Democratic Caucus and the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, whose top donors’ top donors include Dominion Energy. Our People Power Leaders fight for our priorities – canceling pipelines, confronting climate change, and recognizing peaceful climate disobedience as a First Amendment right – and will work toward campaign finance reform to level the playing field for future candidates. The PAC’s upcoming second round of endorsements will feature candidates whose districts are proximate to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“At People Power Virginia, we don’t believe that party machines should pick the winners and losers — the people should,” said Satterwhite in unpacking the last feature. “Every candidate who pledges to genuinely represent the people deserves support. Fresh candidates from diverse backgrounds educate and inspire voters. Substantial campaigns change the conversations and recruit voters to the polls, not only in this year’s election, but for years down the line. We cannot afford to leave any of our courageous candidates behind.”

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