Make the Blue Ridge “BLUE”

As the letter puts it, “Given the Democrats’ recent streak of statewide victories, the question has been publicly muted — can Republicans still win statewide in Virginia?”

The VA GOP is running scared! Check out today’s investigative article from the Washington Post about Rural Virginia.

If the Republican strategy is to win Virginia this year by investing in registering 200,000 voters in our rural counties, you MUST help me capture new voters and get them to vote BLUE!  Help me reach these new voters in District 18 so we can turn the tide in Virginia — Donate now!

Stop Buffering On Rural Broadband

Tristan Shields
Virginia District 18 – 2017 Rare piranha plant growing in Rixeyville garden

You know you live in the country when:

  • Your kids use up all the internet one day into the cycle (duh, the Xbox updated automatically)
  • You can’t respond to a client during a heavy rain storm
  • You are so happy you held onto that grandfathered unlimited data plan on your phone
  • You go to the library to update your laptop, iPads, smartphones
  • Your internet bills are more than your mortgage
  • Netflix finally allowing downloads changed your life

Virginia’s 2016 Broadband Demand Campaign Report clearly shows that rural Virginians rely upon technologies that are expensive, usually with data caps and have limited ability to meet future bandwidth demands.  This impacts both our ability to provide high quality education and keep and attract business and entrepreneurs.

The economy is the biggest reason why we need access to high quality, affordable broadband in District 18 and all of rural Virginia TODAY.  Neglect the internet at your peril.

To illustrate,  I want to share the story of the Serbian Crown, a well-known Northern Virginia restaurant. It was a beloved 40-year old restaurant serving cuisine that once only European kings and Russian czars dined upon. Proprietor Rene Bertagna personally greeted guests, taking his time to teach them the pleasures of chilled vodka. Bertagna brought passion to his work and joy to his customers. However, he’ll spend the rest of his life paying for ignoring the internet.

Google Maps relies on people to update local business information. Anyone with a Google+ account can submit a change to local pages. Unbeknownst to Bertagna, someone listed his business as closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Within months, the Serbian Crown suffered a 75% drop in customers. By the time one of his customers alerted him to the fact that his Google Maps listing was the culprit, Bertagna had closed the Serbian Crown.  He has spent the last two+ years suing Google (and losing).

At its best, the internet allows anyone to learn just about anything, anywhere at any time. You can turn to WebMD for personal health questions before going to the doctor, you can go to LegalZoom to decide if you need a lawyer, you can plan a fabulous vacation on the other side of the globe without using a travel agent. You can even figure out how to run for political office in Virginia :).

Modern digital technology has created a democratization of knowledge that has opened opportunities, shifted power dynamics and expanded globalization to a personal level. The result is a perfect opportunity for rural communities and businesses. This is why rural broadband for District 18 needs to be at the very top of the agenda. Put me in the Statehouse and I’ll work hard to make sure the internet works for us!

A Facebook Op-Ed

Women's March 2017

I am running for office.

As you can probably tell from my Facebook feed I’m not happy about the election. I want to speak to my conservative friends out there.  I’m a white man who has lived all over the south for most of my life, playing rock music, soooo I probably have more Republican friends than most liberals.

I need to explain why we are so upset. We aren’t angry because we lost. Anyone who watched my brother Rory and me on NBC’s The Voice know that we are magnanimous in defeat. We are upset because, in our view, the election of Donald Trump has emboldened hate.

Maybe you don’t hate minorities, or women or immigrants. Maybe you think that Trump wasn’t really telling the truth when he said “grab them by the pussy, when you’re a star they let you do it.”  That is little comfort to the groups who have fought so hard to achieve a taste of the American dream, who strive towards true equality and a more perfect union. To gay couples who just got the freedom and privilege of marriage, losing that right is not an abstract notion but a real threat on their way of life. To minorities who are just now showing us how tenuous and dangerous their relationship with the police is, this is a signal that white America doesn’t get it. To the immigrant children in school who have their white classmates chanting “Build a wall” while they cry, this will scar them for life. For women, who only make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, who get yelled at on the street by men who address them as sexual objects, who are made to chose between spending time with their new born baby or going back to work, this is a slap in the face.

So to my conservative friends, please recognize that this is more than losing an election to us. To many, this is a threat to their safety and their way of life. Please reassure the people in your community that you bear them no ill intent, that you recognize them as people and accept them as part of your America. If you demonize people, don’t be surprised when they act like demons.