As early voting for the Congressional midterms continues, Democrats in Virginia’s 35th House District have a critical state race competing for their attention.
After longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned in early September, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus on Saturday (Oct. 8) to select the its nominee for the vacated seat, which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Oakton.
Competing for the nomination are Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and Holly Seibold, founder and president of the nonprofit BRAWS.
Though the special election won’t be until Jan. 10, no Republicans have entered the race yet, and the district has gone blue in every election since 2003, suggesting that whoever wins this Saturday will be the new delegate.
The Democratic caucus will be unassembled, meaning voters can cast their ballot and leave. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at three different locations:
- The Kilmer Center cafeteria (8102 Wolftrap Road, Vienna)
- The Oakton Elementary School cafeteria (3000 Chain Bridge Road, Oakton)
- The Patrick Henry Library meeting room (101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna)
Early voting will also be available at the FCDC headquarters at 8500 Executive Park Avenue, Suite 402, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 6).
All voters must fill out a certification form and sign a statement saying they’re “a registered voter, a Democrat, and that they do not intend to support a candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election,” according to the caucus rules.
Whoever wins the special election will serve the remainder of Keam’s term, which concludes in January 2024.
The candidates: Karl Frisch
Elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2019, Frisch previously worked as executive director of the consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress, a senior fellow for the nonprofit Media Matters for America, and a Democratic staffer on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules.
The first openly gay person on the county’s school board, Frisch’s tenure has included the approval of new protections for transgender and gender-expansive students — a regulation currently being threatened by the state — and the naming of Mosaic Elementary School, previously known as Mosby Woods.
Despite facing “bigoted and homophobic attacks” since being elected, Frisch says he remains committed to fighting for progressive causes, such as public education, LGBTQ equality, gun violence prevention, and reproductive rights and abortion access. If elected to the General Assembly, he says he would work with other lawmakers to “protect reproductive freedom in Virginia’s constitution.”
On a more local level, Frisch cites traffic safety as a concern, particularly in light of the crash that killed two Oakton High School students this summer.
“Fairfax County and Town of Vienna residents do not get enough tax dollars back from Richmond for road maintenance and traffic mitigation efforts,” he told FFXnow. “We need to fix funding formulas that disadvantage the Town of Vienna and Fairfax County and ensure the Virginia Department of Transportation is responsive to local concerns — whether pedestrian and driver safety along the Blake Lane corridor or traffic along Maple Avenue.”
The candidates: Holly Seibold
A Vienna resident since 2012, Seibold founded BRAWS in 2015 to help provide menstrual supplies and undergarments to those in need. Since then, the nonprofit has distributed over 4 million pads, tampons, bras and underwear to over 60,000 individuals, according to its website.
Seibold has also worked as a teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools and owned an education consulting firm, according to her campaign bio.
When announcing her campaign for delegate on Sept. 6, Seibold cited the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the subsequent erosion of reproductive rights in many states as a key motivation.
With BRAWS, she says she gained “extensive experience” advocating for legislative changes related to menstrual equity, including Keam’s bill requiring schools to have tampons and pads available to all students at no cost and the elimination of Virginia’s sales tax on tampons.
If elected, Seibold says her priorities would include fully funding schools, addressing learning loss and ensuring students can learn free from gun violence, addressing climate change, protecting abortion rights, and expanding “economic resources to women and children in crisis.”
She also mentioned creating safer, more walkable communities as a priority, recalling a recent talk with residents of Blake Lane.
“One resident brought up a recent accident on the street and another resident remarked, ‘Which one?'” she said. “The safety of our families is of the utmost importance to me. We all deserve to live in safe, walkable, family-oriented communities without fear of getting hit by a car.”
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