One candidate in the crowded primary contest for Mason District supervisor has snagged the support of one of Hollywood’s most high-profile and persistent activists.
Actor Jane Fonda, who’s known as much for her environmental and anti-Vietnam War protests as her work in classic movies like “Klute” and “9 to 5,” has endorsed Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Andres Jimenez through her climate-focused political action committee.
In her announcement yesterday (Thursday), Fonda highlights Jimenez’s past work as a director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonprofit advocacy organization, and as head of Green 2.0, a campaign to ensure people of color are represented in environmental groups.
“He has worked tirelessly to educate the public about the devastating impact of climate change,” Fonda said. “When elected, he will bring this experience to Fairfax County, where he will fight to increase solar tree canopies and [electric vehicle] charging platforms, moving the large region away from reliance on fossil fuels. I am proud to endorse him.”
Please join us in supporting @andresforchange for Fairfax County Mason District Supervisor!
Make a plan to vote if you’re eligible, and please support the campaign & the @JaneFonda Climate PAC today at https://t.co/JTHdRTvzeH pic.twitter.com/IUwnbj0KlM
— Jane Fonda Climate PAC (@janeclimatepac) May 25, 2023
Jimenez is vying against three other candidates for the Democratic nomination to succeed longtime Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, who will retire at the end of this year.
Also campaigning are Jeremy Allen, a constituent services staffer for Rep. Don Beyer; restauranteur and Korean Community Center Director Steve Lee; and Reid Voss, a real estate agent and member of the Lake Barcroft Association board.
While Jimenez might’ve scored the splashiest endorsement in the race, he’s only second when it comes to fundraising, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Voss led the pack with $83,148 raised, as of March 31, the end of the first quarter for campaign finance reporting.
Fonda isn’t the only celebrity to weigh in on this year’s local elections. Singer John Legend, who will perform at Wolf Trap National Park on June 2 and 3, recorded a robocall earlier this month endorsing incumbent Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.
Descano is locked in a heated primary battle with former prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney Ed Nuttall, whose supporters include Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34).
Legend said Descano “has enacted smarter pretrial detention and several diversion policies to improve community safety.” The “Glory” Oscar winner has also endorsed Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who was elected in 2019 on similar promises of criminal justice reform.
The Democratic primary will be held on June 20, though early voting has been underway since May 5. Other races on the ballet include Board of Supervisors chair, sheriff, Mount Vernon, Dranesville and Springfield district supervisors, and several General Assembly seats.
The McLean Community Center (MCC) has a new governing board after a relatively quiet election cycle.
A total of 1,473 McLean residents voted in the race, which saw Kathleen Cooney-Porter, Katie Gorka and Gloria Marrero Chambers emerge victorious from a slate of five adult candidates.
The preliminary vote totals, tallied by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, are as follows:
- Kathleen Cooney-Porter: 1,047 votes
- Gloria Marrero Chambers: 729 votes
- Katie Gorka: 629 votes
- Matt Colsia: 582 votes
- Lincom Thillaichidambaram: 500 votes
- Write-ins: 18 votes
The top vote getter, Cooney-Porter has lived in McLean since 1998 and has worked in intellectual property law for nearly 30 years, including as a senior trademark policy advisor for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
“I believe my experience will advance the programs of MCC and increase representation of our diverse community,” she said in a candidate statement. “I enjoy cooking, reading, tennis, walking and spending time with family and friends and our beloved French bulldog.”
In her candidate statement, Chambers highlighted her volunteer work, including serving as board vice president for The Langley School. A McLean resident since 2013, she’s also a past president of the Greater McLean Republican Women’s Club and was appointed in April to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Citizens’ Advisory Council on Furnishing and Interpreting the Executive Mansion.
“As a member of the MCC Board, I will ensure that programs and events engage every member of our community,” Chambers said in her statement. “I will be a responsible steward of your tax dollars, and I will commit my decades of leadership and board experience to give back to our community.”
A second campaign turned out to be the charm for Gorka, who also sought a MCC governing board seat last year.
A resident of McLean since 2008, Gorka served in Donald Trump’s administration as a senior advisor in the Department of Homeland Security and press secretary for Customs and Border Patrol. She also had stints as a columnist for the right-wing media outlet Breitbart and as a research fellow for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.
“My priority is to support the McLean Community Center, which is a treasured community resource; to ensure that it provides programming of interest to all members of the community; and to ensure fiscal responsibility,” Gorka told FFXnow by email. “Organizations that receive taxpayer dollars, as the Community Center does, should use resources responsibly and transparently.”
Gorka didn’t respond to a follow-up asking for her stance on MCC’s stated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, concepts she has criticized as “Marxist-inspired ideology.” During her tenure in the Trump administration, she reportedly pushed anti-Muslim policies and cut grants to address right-wing extremism.
Cooney-Porter and Chambers didn’t return FFXnow’s inquiries about their priorities as new MCC board members. Read More
(Updated at 9:50 a.m. on 5/19/2023) A slate of four candidates running to represent Reston in the House of Delegates aired their ideas on housing affordability, mental health issues and post-pandemic recovery at a candidate forum last night (Wednesday).
Organized by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit Cornerstones, the forum at the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation (1441 Wiehle Avenue) challenged the District 7 candidates with questions from a panel, followed by meet-and-greet time with the audience.
The race is among the most crowded in years, as longtime delegate Ken Plum retires.
The most fundamental differences between the four Democratic candidates arose in a question about the one piece of legislation they would propose if elected to office.
Paul Berry — a teacher who frequently referenced his experience as a board appointee in former governor Ralph Northam’s office — said he would introduce an optional firearms buyback program. The program wouldn’t be mandatory in order to get Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s signature.
(Correction: This article previously said Paul Berry is an attorney who worked in Northam’s office. He works as a teacher and in data science, and his role in Northam’s office was as an appointee to advisory boards, according to his campaign website. Fellow candidate Karen Keys-Gamarra is an attorney.)
Karen Keys-Gamarra, an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board, said she would go a step further by advocating for an assault weapons ban. Shyamali Roy Hauth, an Air Force veteran who previously worked in the office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, said she would get rid of a disability waiver waitlist that has existed for years.
Mary Barthelson, a systems engineer at SAIC who squared off against Plum in the 2021 Democratic primary, said she hopes to study entry barriers to Virginia’s workforce.
All candidates said they would oppose state legislation to override local zoning ordinances in order to permit more dense housing, a move championed by one-time 86th District delegate Ibraheem Samirah. Arlington recently passed legislation that effectively ended single-family-only zoning in the county.
But the proposed solutions to combat housing affordability issues varied.
Barthelson said increasing the capital gains tax and incentivizing developers to include more affordable housing was her priority, along with using commercial buildings for transitional housing.
“I think I’d look at a multifaceted approach,” she said.
Berry prefaced his answer by stating that high eviction rates are particularly alarming.
“Before we start taking about supply in the future, I want to keep people in their homes right now,” he said.
He added that there may be opportunities to transform paved and underutilized surface areas into affordable housing.
“The value has to be there for a developer,” Berry said.
Hauth said she hopes to provide local boards of supervisors with the tools they need to boost their affordable housing stock. Read More
Early voting for the 2023 Democratic primary begins today (Friday) in Fairfax County with a number of notable races on the ballot.
Three locations in the county will open this morning for early in-person voting on weekdays through June 17.
Those include the Fairfax County Government Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as well as the Mount Vernon Government Center and North County Governmental Center, both open from 1-7 p.m.
Voting will also be available on two Saturdays — June 10 and 17 — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all three locations.
Starting June 10, 12 government centers and libraries will be open for in-person voting from 1-7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those two Saturdays (June 10 and 17) as well:
- Burke Centre Library (5935 Freds Oak Road)
- Centreville Regional Library (14200 St. Germain Drive)
- Franconia Governmental Center (6121 Franconia Road)
- Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike)
- Herndon-Fortnightly Library (768 Center Street)
- Lorton Community Center (9520 Richmond Highway)
- Mason Governmental Center (6507 Columbia Pike)
- McLean Governmental Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
- Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive)
- Sully Governmental Center (4900 Stonecroft Blvd)
- Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd)
- Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike)
- West Springfield Governmental Center (6140 Rolling Road)
There are also ballot dropboxes at the Fairfax County Governmental Center for those who requested an absentee ballot by mail. One box is inside the complex, and one is outside near the handicapped parking spaces.
Curbside voting will be available for residents who are 65 and older or have a physical disability.
Perhaps the most hotly contested race on the primary ballot is for Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney, with incumbent Steve Descano facing a challenge from prosecutor-turned-defense attorney Ed Nuttall.
In a recent radio talk, Descano accused Nuttall of associating with “MAGA, antisemitic conspiracy theorists,” while Nuttall retorted by calling Descano a “liar” and “incompetent.”
While both are running as Democrats, they have shared differing positions, methods, and visions for the office. No Republican challenger for the seat has emerged.
The Democratic nomination for county sheriff is also up for grabs between incumbent Stacey Kincaid and Herndon High School football coach (and former D.C. police officer) Kelvin Garcia. Kincaid was the county’s first female sheriff when she took office a decade ago. Garcia is positioning himself as a more progressive option.
Elsewhere in local races, all Board of Supervisors seats are up for election in November, but only two incumbents are on the primary ballot: Chairman Jeff McKay, who has been challenged by retired CIA staffer Lisa Downing, and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, who is facing off with Maritza Zermeño. Read More
The primary race for Virginia’s 37th Senate District pits an “old-fashioned” incumbent against a “progressive” who’s relatively new in Virginia politics.
Facing off for the Democratic nomination are longtime state Sen. Chap Petersen and Fairfax Young Democrats vice president Saddam Azlan Salim. Last week, a second challenger, Erika Yalowitz, dropped out to support Salim.
On the surface, the race is a classic match-up between a veteran lawmaker and a fresh face, but the candidates also have considerable political and policy differences, as evidenced in a recent debate that touched on Virginia as a “right to work” state, healthcare access and reproductive rights for women, and gun laws.
In an interview with FFXnow, Salim said he decided to run because he feels Petersen no longer reflects the political and population demographics in the 37th District, which includes Vienna, Tysons, Merrifield, and the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax.
“When I started talking to community leaders…about what they were looking for in a future senator, they wanted somebody who’s progressive,” Salim told FFXnow, “…when it comes to affordable housing, when it comes to the environment, when it comes to reproductive rights…and they’re not getting that from their current senator.”
Petersen told FFXnow he doesn’t “get caught up in ideology” and instead focuses on improving people’s lives in the community, calling himself “old-fashioned.”
He acknowledges the demographics in the district he currently represents and the new one created by redistricting have changed, becoming more diverse and “more oriented toward an immigrant population.” However, he says residents have the same basic concerns.
“A lot of the sort of older population that had worked at the Department of Defense, worked at the Pentagon has retired or moved. So, that core Republican constituency is diminished,” Petersen said. “I don’t think that necessarily changes the issues, per se. When I go door to door, people talk about property taxes. People talk about frustrations with the school system. [It] doesn’t change the state and local issues.”
One of those issues regionally is affordable housing, both candidates agreed. Salim said an insufficient supply has prevented essential county workers from living in the place they serve.
“Teachers can’t afford to live in this area. Richmond has the ability to work together with localities, to find workforce housing that works for workers that are in the county,” Salim said, charging Petersen with not being vocal enough about the need “to ensure that teachers stay in the area.”
Building new developments and housing around public transportation would help teachers and other workers more easily get where they need to go without relying on a car, Salim noted.
Petersen agrees about the need for more dense and vertical housing around public transportation hubs, but cautions that there isn’t “one great solution.” Read More
The primary for Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney may be the most cutthroat race on the ballot in a year when local voters will also choose representatives on the Board of Supervisors, school board and General Assembly.
On Friday (April 21), Democratic incumbent Steve Descano and challenger Ed Nuttall appeared together on WAMU’s “The Politics Hour,” the weekly radio show hosted by Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood, and the conversation got spicy.
At one point, Descano accused Nuttall of associating with “MAGA, antisemitic conspiracy theorists.” Nuttall responded by calling Descano “a liar” and “incompetent.”
There was also considerable back-and-forth about each other’s work backgrounds, current crime rates, office morale, management styles, and political affiliations.
In between arguments and personal attacks, though, the candidates managed to work in some policy debate, disagreeing on how the commonwealth’s attorney’s office (CA’s office) should handle cases involving police officers, where to allocate county funding, and how to best support victims of violent crimes.
Descano and Nuttle did find common ground on some issues. Both agreed they wouldn’t prosecute residents for getting an abortion or purchasing the pill mifepristone if those health care options were ever limited or outright banned.
The two also praised the Board of Supervisors for its continued funding of the top county prosecutor’s office over the last two budget cycles, though they diverged on how exactly the money should be used.
But the agreements were overshadowed by discord and name-calling from the two Democratic candidates.
One of the main areas of conversation was how the CA’s office works with victims of violent crimes. On his campaign website, Nuttall pledges to hire a “victim services liaison” if elected to ensure victims’ concerns are heard — a part of the job that he says Descano has “mismanaged.”
“There are zero communications between the victim services department and the police department and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office,” Nuttall said. “They don’t get along. They don’t communicate. He doesn’t return their phone calls. He doesn’t return emails.”
When asked if he believes Descano is doing this purposefully, Nuttall said it’s more about not knowing how to do the job.
“I think he doesn’t know how to handle crime. I think he mismanages the office. I think he’s incompetent,” the challenger said.
Descano countered that he’s made the office more professional with more hires, while improving its electronic database. He’s focused on diversion programs, which he says have made community members safer and more trusting of the legal system. Descano also highlighted a bond data dashboard released last year as evidence of his office’s transparency.
“What we’ve done is…made [the office] run more efficiently, made it run better, made it run better for victims,” Descano said. “One thing that really bothers me about this race is that Ed Nuttall…is being the Republican that he is and has taken Republican talking points and, quite frankly disgustingly, is using victims in a way that is pretty gross.” Read More
Community organizer Erika Yalowitz has suspended her campaign for the Virginia State Senate’s 37th District.
One of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Yalowitz announced today (Thursday) that she is withdrawing from the race and will instead endorse her opponent, Saddam Azlan Salim, a financial consultant and vice president of the Fairfax Young Democrats.
After launching her campaign in February, Yalowitz says she has decided to work with Salim in a bid to defeat incumbent Chap Petersen, who has represented voters in the now-defunct 34th District since 2008.
“If we want to make progress on the issues we care about, such as gun safety, reproductive justice or housing affordability, we need to elect a different senator,” Yalowitz said in a statement. “That is why I am making the decision to suspend my campaign and endorse Saddam Salim in this race. Saddam is a good candidate that I know supports a lot of the same issues that I do.”
Yalowitz’s campaign has stopped accepting donations and will use its remaining funds to cover remaining expenses, such as staff compensation, she said in a message to supporters. She plans to give any funds leftover after that to Salim’s campaign.
Created by Virginia’s redistricting process in 2021, the new 37th Senate District incorporates Tysons, Merrifield and Falls Church City into the former 34th District’s boundaries, which included Vienna and Fairfax City.
An Arlington Circuit Court officer, Yalowitz lives in Tysons and has held leadership roles in several community organizations, including the Providence District Council, Tysons Community Alliance, and the Fairfax Federation. She also advocated for preserving Oakton’s Blake Lane Park when it was being eyed as a potential school site.
She previously ran for the Providence District seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019.
Both Yalowitz and Salim have criticized Petersen for breaking with Democrats on issues like an assault weapons ban and marijuana legalization.
In a statement released by his campaign, Salim thanked his former opponent for her support:
I want to thank Erika Yalowitz for bringing a progressive voice into this campaign and advocating for important issues like reproductive rights, the fentanyl crisis, gun violence prevention and public education. I also want to thank her for her endorsement – I appreciate it deeply and I look forward to working with her on the campaign trail to give the people of the 37th District a new choice for the first time in sixteen years. Erika will have a great future in the Democratic Party and I look forward to supporting her wholeheartedly in her next endeavors.
Petersen said that he spoke Yalowitz earlier today and wishes her well, but her decision won’t affect his campaign for reelection.
“We’ll continue forward with a positive message focused on our constituents,” he told FFXnow.
Petersen has raised the most money of the 37th District candidates so far, as of Monday (April 17), when the campaign finance reports for the first three months of the year were due.
The Democratic primary will be held on June 20, with this year’s general election coming on Nov. 7. The lone Republican candidate is Ken Reid, a former Loudoun County supervisor.
Retired CIA staffer Lisa Downing is challenging Jeff McKay for Fairfax County’s top governmental seat.
Last week, Dunn Loring resident Downing announced her candidacy to chair the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Running as a Democrat, she will face off in the June primary against current Chairman Jeff McKay, who was elected in 2019 after representing Franconia District (then called Lee District) on the board for over a decade.
A three-decade county resident, Downing worked for the Central Intelligence Agency prior to retiring in 2019. She was also the first woman of color to attend and graduate from New York Maritime College, where she studied the business of shipping and how to operate tankers.
She told FFXnow her bid for the county’s top seat is to provide residents another option.
“When I found out that there was only one person — the incumbent — running on the Democratic ticket for the primary, I thought that the residents of Fairfax weren’t being given a choice,” Downing said. “And, in America, we all need choices, even within the same party.”
The top issue she’s campaigning on is increasing funding for Fairfax County Public Schools, specifically teacher pay. Downing noted that pay for FCPS teachers and staff has fallen behind other neighboring jurisdictions like Arlington and Loudoun.
“We’re losing teachers. We’re not competitive. We haven’t put in the resources that our students and teachers need to thrive. So, schools are the number one concern for me,” she said. “If we don’t provide our residents with good schools, they will find other places to give their children education.”
Increasing the county’s housing inventory to boost affordable housing “for working class people” is another priority for Downing. She said it’s disheartening that so many people who serve the county — from firefighters to teachers to small business owners — can’t afford to live here.
“When you have townhomes and condos reasonably priced and a lot of them, it takes the pressure off the housing market. People are then able to afford the moderate priced homes,” she said. “We have concentrated so much on sweetheart deals for developers that only the big houses get built. That’s where the money is for the developers, but that’s not where the money is for Fairfax County.”
Downing confirmed she’s referring to a change in approach similar to the “Missing Middle” policies passed in Arlington last month, allowing multifamily structures to be built on single-family home lots.
To pay for these priorities, Downing says the tax base needs to increase. That doesn’t necessary mean raising taxes so much as increasing the number of residents who are paying taxes.
“We have a lot of taxes. Fairfax gets money through its taxes. The more people who live in the county, the larger our tax base,” she said.
Downing sharply criticized McKay and other county supervisors for increasing the board’s salaries, starting in January 2024. The supervisors who voted for the raises argued they were in line with how other county employees are compensated and will allow others to serve regardless of personal financial circumstances. During the public hearing, though, many residents spoke out against the increase. Read More
(Updated at 8:55 p.m.) Reston Association released election results for this year’s Board of Directors’ race at its annual member meeting yesterday (Tuesday) night.
John Farrell edged out Margaret Perry for a three-year term as an at-large director with 3,337 votes — the most in the at-large races.
(Correction: This article initially said that Farrell received the most votes of any candidate. Hat tip to Terry Maynard for pointing out the error.)
Trevor Grywatch secured a two-year, at-large director seat over Jalal Mapar. Bob Petrine, a current board member, also won a one-year, at-large seat against Michael Brandland.
The remaining two seats were uncontested. Travis Johnson will be the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District director for a three-year term, while Mike Collins will serve as the apartment owners’ representative, also for a three-year term.
Voting for the annual election took place throughout last month.
John Norton, chairman of RA’s elections committee, said that the overall turnout for the election was nearly 14.6% — 4.6 percentage points above the 10% quorum requirement for each race.
“Everybody was over 10%. Comfortably so,” Norton said.
RA CEO Mac Cummins thanked Perry for her work on the board after nine months of service. He said she was instrumental in his onboarding after he assumed the CEO position last summer and the development of parks and recreation planning.
Perry filled a seat that was vacated by a previous board member last year.
Cummins said she “served with distinction” and brought “incredible passion” to her position.
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) For the first time ever, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is allowing registered Democrats to vote on which school board candidates it will endorse this year.
The Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) announced yesterday (Monday) that it will hold an open caucus to allow any voter who registers with the party to vote in this year’s nonpartisan races.
On the ballot will be several school board seats — three at-large members, the Mount Vernon District representative, and the Hunter Mill District representative — as well as a member of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) board of directors.
To vote in the caucus, voters are required to register with the FCDC. Registration opened yesterday and will continue until May 5. Online voting for candidates will be from May 13 through May 20, when there will also be an in-person voting option.
“With our new endorsement process, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is giving the choice on our endorsed candidates to the voters,” FCDC Chair Bryan Graham wrote in a press release. “This process will strengthen our candidates for non-partisan offices and our party as we work to elect Democratic candidates to every position on the ballot this year.”
The county’s school board and the NVSWCD board are nonpartisan offices, meaning members don’t represent a specific political party, but the local Democratic and Republican committees can make endorsements.
For the school board, Kyle McDaniel, Ryan McElveen, Ilryong Moon, Hamid Munir, and Lawerence Webb will all be vying for three at-large spots. None of the incumbents are running for those spots again, though Rachna Sizemore Heizer is campaigning for the Braddock District seat.
Both Moon and McElveen are former members of the school board, having stepped down at the end of 2019, while McDaniel, Munir, and Webb would be new.
In the Mount Vernon District, Mateo Dunne and Harold Sims are looking to replace current representative Karen Corbett Sanders, who is retiring.
Melanie Meren is seeking FCDC’s endorsement for reelection as the Hunter Mill District representative, competing against Paul Thomas, a current member of the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.
The committee has already endorsed several school board candidates who were uncontested in seeking its support, including:
- Braddock District: Rachna Sizemore Heizer
- Dranesville District: Robyn Lady
- Franconia District: Marcia St. John-Cunning
- Mason District: Ricardy Anderson
- Providence District: Karl Frisch
- Springfield District: Sandy Anderson
- Sully District: Seema Dixit
The Fairfax County Republican Committee will determine its endorsements in the nonpartisan races at a meeting on April 19, according to Fairfax GOP Vice Chairman Nick Andersen.
The committee has hosted both in-person and virtual meetings in recent months so its members can get to know the candidates.
“The endorsement meeting itself will include district-level caucuses to provide recommendations to the full membership followed by a paper ballot-based vote for all members in attendance,” Anderson said. “Candidates for office must achieve a simple majority of voting members that are participating in the meeting in order to receive the FCRC endorsement.”
There are also a number of partisan races coming up this year, meaning candidates can represent a specific political party. Those primaries will be held on June 20.
Last week, the FCDC announced the candidates in those races that have officially qualified to seek Democratic nominations.
Notable contests include the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chair and four district seats, Commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, four State Senate seats, and three House of Delegate seats.
The primary is set for June 20, and the general election is on November 7.