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Environmental advocate challenges Rep. Gerry Connolly, setting up primary battle for 11th District

Ally Dalsimer is running against Rep. Gerry Connolly for Virginia’s 11th Congressional District seat (courtesy Ally Dalsimer for Congress)

Fairfax County voters will have at least one primary on their hands in this year’s midterm elections.

Ally Dalsimer, an environmental advocate whose experience includes work under the Obama administration, is campaigning against Rep. Gerry Connolly for Virginia’s 11th District seat, which represents most of Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Dalsimer kicked off her candidacy in June but is now ramping up her campaign, with a virtual meet-and-greet on Sunday (Feb. 6), where she hopes to be able to talk to the public and listen to their concerns.

“I would just like the chance to talk to the people, tell them my thoughts and what I can do for them. And I want to hear back from them, questions, comments, the issues they’re concerned about,” Dalsimer told FFXnow.

Set for June 21, this will be the second Democratic primary that Connolly has faced since first assuming his current office in 2009. He previously defeated challenger Zainab Mohsini in 2020.

Dalsimer believes her professional and personal experiences have prepared her to serve in Congress as someone willing to reach across the aisle.

The daughter of a Scottish immigrant mother and a father in the U.S. Foreign Service, Dalsimer and her family spent time living in Central and West Africa before moving to Northern Virginia when she was 8.

She credits those experiences abroad with teaching her the value of respecting other’s differences and embracing other cultures, a message that she hopes to carry through efforts like her campaign sharing resources for the Afghan refugees.

“At the end of the day, in spite of the small differences between us, we’re all just people,” Dalsimer said.

Dalsimer’s career in environmental preservation began at a nonprofit foundation after she graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in public policy, environmental law, and economics.

From there, she went on to manage the Department of Defense’s Natural Resources Program, co-found several national conservation initiatives, and implement policy changes for natural resources while serving on the White House Climate Council under President Barack Obama.

In addition to the environment, Dalsimer is passionate about health care, particularly after losing her husband to cancer in 2015, mere days before his 52nd birthday.

While her husband had health insurance, Dalsimer is aware that there are others who aren’t as lucky, especially after the historic job losses triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. She supports the single-payer, universal health care system touted by progressives like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t think anyone should be left without any way to get medical help just because they lost their job,” said Dalsimer.

Dalsimer also cites war as a subject she wants to tackle if elected. Her legislative goals include a law that would prohibit corporations from profiting from the sale of weapons and equipment meant for war.

“It’s one thing to sell an airplane for the purposes of travel and profit from the sale, that’s fine. That’s the free market,” Dalsimer said. “But to sell a plane meant for war and to gain a profit from it is just wrong in my view.”

Dalsimer says her interest in running for Congress grew out of the tumultuous events of 2020, including the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests in response to George Floyd’s murder, as well as the Trump administration’s actions on the environment, such as the dissolution of the White House Climate Council.

After watching “Knock Down The House,” a 2019 documentary that followed four women running for Congress, Dalsimer got her son’s support to run for office and spent the next six months asking her neighbors and county residents for their opinion of her potential campaign.

She says the response was positive, especially since those she talked to were less than positive about Connolly.

“He’s against universal health care, and said he’d never vote for it,” she said. “He’s allowed corporations to profit from the sale of weapons of war, and there are those in the LGBTQIA+ community who say he hasn’t done anything for them.”

FFXnow contacted Connolly’s office for comment but did not get a response by press time.

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