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Tuesday’s primary could decide key Fairfax County, General Assembly races

Early voting is underway at the Providence Community Center (file photo)

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Tuesday could be among the most consequential days in recent Fairfax County election history.

Tuesday, June 20 is primary election day, though early voting began in early May. While the general election is set for November, the county is overwhelmingly Democratic, so the candidates who win the primaries will be favored this fall.

With five Board of Supervisors seats, Commonwealth’s Attorney, sheriff, and a number of Virginia General Assembly seats on Tuesday’s ballot, the primary could set the course for the county for years to come.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors 

While five supervisor seats are on the primary ballot, the two open seats are getting the most attention.

Last August, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust announced he won’t run for reelection this year, opening the door for two candidates who have emerged to take his place. Jimmy Bierman formerly chaired the Dranesville District Democratic Committee, and David Fiske is on the McLean Citizens Association board. In March, Foust endorsed Bierman for the seat.

Late last year, longtime Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross also said she will retire. Now, four candidates are vying for the vacant seat. They include Congressional staffer Jeremy Allen, Mason District Planning Commissioner Andres Jimenez, local business owner Steve Lee, and local business owner Reid Voss.

Jimenez is currently considered the frontrunner for the seat, winning a straw poll by Fairfax County Democratic Committee straw poll in March. His endorsements include actor Jane Fonda, whose political action committee also weighed in on three local General Assembly races yesterday (Thursday).

However, Voss supporters have accused him of being absent from his duties on the planning commission.

In other races, Board Chairman Jeff McKay is facing a primary challenge from retired CIA staffer Lisa Downing, while incumbent Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck is on the ballot against grassroots leader Martiza Zermeno.

In addition, two candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity in November. Herrity, the board’s only current Republican, doesn’t have a primary challenger.

County firefighter John Nowadly has a number of notable endorsements, including from McKay, Rep. Gerry Connolly and several local state senators. Local tech entrepreneur Albert Vega is endorsed by Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, who is facing his own challenge on Tuesday.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney and Sheriff

The primary race between Descano and prosecutor-turned-defense attorney challenger Ed Nuttall for the Commonwealth’s Attorney may be the most hotly contested on this year’s ballot.

Since announcing his candidacy back in February, Nuttall has criticized how Descano manages the office as well as not appropriately supporting victims of crimes. During a joint appearance on the WAMU show The Politics Hour, Descano accused his opponent of associating with “MAGA, antisemitic conspiracy theorists,” while Nuttall responded by calling the incumbent “incompetent” and a “liar.”

The Washington Post has endorsed Nuttall, while Descano has endorsements from Connelly, Rep. Don Beyer, former governor Terry McAuliffe, and five county supervisors, per his website. He also has the support of musician John Legend.

Another notable race on the ballot is for Fairfax County sheriff, where former D.C. police officer and current Herndon High School football coach Kelvin Garcia is challenging Stacey Kincaid, the county’s first female sheriff.

Virginia General Assembly 

All 140 General Assembly seats are up for election this year, though not everyone will be subjected to a primary. A host of notable retirements and veteran lawmakers choosing not to run after redistricting has left more open seats this year than usual. Locally, three House of Delegates and four State Senate seats are on Tuesday’s ballot.

In House District 7, representing Reston, four candidates are looking to fill the seat vacated by retiring Ken Plum. They include at-large school board member Karen Keys-Gamarra, Paul Berry, Shyamali Roy Hauth and Mary Barthelson.

House District 15 around Burke is made up of several different districts — most prominently the former House District 41 represented by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, who isn’t running again. Springfield District school board representative Laura Jane Cohen, software company founder Eric Schmidt, and teacher Dr. Henri’ Thompson are all vying for the open seat.

House District 19 is another open seat due to redistricting. While a majority of the district is in Prince William County, about 38% is in southeastern Fairfax County, including Mason Neck and Lorton. Woodbridge residents Rozia “J.R.” Henson, Mayka Little, and Natalie Shorter are all vying to fill the seat.

On the Senate side, Senate District 33 is open with two prominent politicians contending for it. Former lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala and one-time gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carrol Foy are former allies, but the race has becoming “increasingly bitter,” the Washington Post says.

Another notable retirement has left Senate District 35 in need of a representative. State Sen. Dave Marsden and nonprofit worker Heidi Drauschak are competing to succeed Dick Saslaw, who announced he was stepping down in February.

Two incumbent senators are being challenged in the primary. In Senate District 36, George Barker is being primaried by Sully District School Board Representative Stella Pekarsky. It’s worth noting that, due to redistricting, Barker’s former constituency makes up only about 6% of this new district.

A potential upset could come in Senate District 37, where “progressive” challenger Saddam Azlan Salim hopes to unseat “old fashioned” incumbent Chap Petersen.

Positioning himself as a “pro-business” and “common sense” candidate, Petersen hasn’t been afraid to break from the Democratic Party during his 16 years in office, including on an assault weapons ban and marijuana legalization. Despite that, he’s touting endorsements from some prominent party members, including senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and state Senator Janet Howell.

Notable endorsements for Salim, vice president of the Fairfax Young Democrats, include Filler-Corn, Descano, Del. Kathleen Murphy, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, and the political action committee of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

With early in-person voting ending tomorrow (Saturday) at 5 p.m., polls for the primary will open on Tuesday, June 20 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at over 200 sites across the county.

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