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35th House District candidates Holly Seibold and Monique Baroudi (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, MP Photo Art)

Only a week after finalizing vote tallies from its last election, Fairfax County is gearing up to welcome back voters from several precincts for its next election.

Early voting will begin Wednesday (Nov. 23) to select a successor to Mark Keam, who resigned as delegate of Virginia’s 35th House District in September. A special election will be held Jan. 10, the day before the General Assembly convenes for its 2023 session.

The district encompasses Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring, most of Tysons, and Fair Oaks. Since Keam’s term doesn’t end until January 2024, this election will use the boundaries that existed prior to last year’s redistricting, which split the area into districts 11 and 12.

Eligible voters in 20 precincts will decide between BRAWS President Holly Seibold — who won the Democratic nomination in a caucus last month — and Oakton resident Monique Baroudi, who became the Republican nominee after another candidate withdrew before a scheduled canvass.

The House District 35 boundaries before redistricting (via Virginia Public Access Project)

Starting Wednesday, early voting will be available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Office of Elections in the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway). The county will also begin mailing ballots to voters who’ve requested that permanently.

The deadline to apply for a mail absentee ballot in this election is Dec. 30. Requests can be submitted through the state’s online portal or in person at the county elections office.

“To return your cast ballot, you may hand deliver it to the Office of Elections or put it in the 24/7, secure drop box outside the Fairfax County Government Center,” the county’s news release said. “If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Jan. 10 and received by the Office of Elections by noon on Friday, Jan. 13.”

In-person early voting will also be available at the Providence Community Center on two Saturdays (Dec. 31 and Jan. 7) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The government center site will be closed on county holidays, including this Thursday and Friday (Nov. 24-25) for Thanksgiving. That means early voting will only be available for one day this week.

Other holiday closures include after noon on Dec. 23 and all day on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

Early voting will conclude at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7.

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Springfield District School Board Representative Laura Jane Cohen is running for Virginia’s newly created 15th House District (via Laura Jane Cohen)

A current Fairfax County School Board member is running for the newly created 15th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Laura Jane Cohen announced her candidacy yesterday — a day after Election Day. Her announcement couched her candidacy as an effort to stand up to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the “far right,” citing a desire to defend public education, reproductive freedom, voting rights and gun violence prevention.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to live, work, and raise my children here and I am excited to begin this journey to represent this amazing community in the Virginia House of Delegates,” Cohen wrote in a statement. “In my time on the School Board I’ve had the opportunity to prove my grit and resolve in protecting and fighting for our families and I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving our community and our Commonwealth.”

Cohen was elected to represent the Springfield District on the school board in 2019, unseating two-term Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz, who now serves as assistant superintendent of public instruction in Youngkin’s administration.

A graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in political science, she moved to Fairfax County in 2001, when she worked as an advocate on Capitol Hill for national nonprofit disease organizations.

At the time, she was the director of outreach for a national Parkinson’s nonprofit organization, according to Fairfax County Public Schools. She then worked as a preschool teacher after having two kids and later joined FCPS as a long-term substitute. She also ran a small business in Clifton before joining the school board.

While on the school board, Cohen has said she’s faced threats and harassment, particularly when she talks about gun violence prevention and her support for the LGTBQ community. A recall petition filed against her by the Open FCPS Coalition, which opposed school closures due to COVID-19, was dismissed in February.

The new 15th House District is one of three created by the Virginia Redistricting Commission last year and includes Burke and parts of Fairfax. It incorporates portions of the Springfield and Braddock magisterial districts.

No other candidates have formally declared their candidacy for the new district.

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Holly Seibold, founder and president of the menstrual equity nonprofit BRAWS, prevailed in last week’s Democratic caucus for the next 35th House District delegate.

After three days of voting, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) announced Saturday evening (Oct. 8) that Seibold had won the party’s nomination over Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch by just 67 votes.

“I cannot thank the Democrats of District 35 enough for this tremendous honor,” Seibold said on social media. “I promise to make you proud in Richmond and fight for the Virginia values of equality, justice, and freedom.”

The 35th District seat — which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring, Oakton and Fair Oaks — is open after longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned last month to take a job in the Biden administration. Keam had served in the House of Delegates for 13 years.

The FCDC opted to choose its nominee for Keam’s successor through an unassembled caucus, inviting Democratic voters in the district to cast their ballots in person on Saturday at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna, Oakton Elementary School, and the Kilmer Center near Dunn Loring.

Early voting was also available at the FCDC headquarters last Tuesday and Thursday (Oct. 4 and 6).

According to the final results, there were 2,356 ballots cast overall, including 401 early votes. Seibold received 1,210 votes to Frisch’s 1,143.

The two candidates put up a united front after the results were announced. Seibold thanked Frisch “for his kind words and for making me a better candidate,” while Frisch promised to support her in the special election on Jan. 10.

“Losing is a little easier to digest when it’s to someone as capable as @HollySeiboldVA,” he said on Twitter. “She will be a great Delegate. We have three months until the Special Election to fill @MarkKeam’s seat and I will do whatever I can to help her succeed.”

A Vienna resident since 2012 and former Fairfax County Public Schools teacher, Seibold started BRAWS in 2015 to help provide menstrual supplies and undergarments to those in need. Her advocacy resulted in Virginia now requiring schools to make free tampons and pads available to all students and ending its sales tax on tampons.

She told FFXnow last week that her priorities include fully funding schools, addressing learning loss and ensuring students “receive a world-class education” free from gun violence, taking action on climate change that creates new jobs and invests in the most vulnerable communities, protecting abortion rights, and expanding “economic resources to women and children in crisis.”

“Holly works day-in and day-out to make our community a better place for everyone,” FCDC Chair Bryan Graham said in a statement. “While our absentee Governor and his lackeys in the legislature attack public education, the LGBTQ+ community, environmental protections, and even democracy itself, we need candidates like Holly to lead the fight to protect the progress we’ve made and forge a path to move Virginia forward when we retake the House of Delegates next year.”

To select its nominee, the Fairfax County Republican Committee will hold a party canvass at its headquarters (4246 Chain Bridge Road) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the Saturday before Election Day. No GOP candidates have been publicly announced yet.

Called by Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert on Sept. 8, the special election on Jan. 10 will take place the day before the General Assembly convenes for its 2023 session.

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Holly Seibold and Karl Frisch are vying to become the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 35th House District (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, Friends of Karl Frisch)

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. Read More

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A Fairfax County Office of Elections ballot drop box from 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 9:10 p.m.) In Fairfax County, the battle for control of Congress starts tomorrow (Friday).

The county will open three early voting sites and start mailing out absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 general election, which will decide three seats in the House of Representatives as well as the Town of Herndon’s leadership.

Turnout is tough to predict, but early voting and voting by mail “seem to be growing in popularity” after Virginia made both options available to all in 2020, Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy says.

Nearly 70% of registered voters participated in the last midterm elections in 2018, but no individual House race saw a turnout over 37%, according to Worthy. Last November’s election, which anointed Glenn Youngkin as Virginia’s governor, drew a 60.2% turnout.

“Because the Office of Elections always prepare for high turnout, they will be ready to manage turnout greater than the recent gubernatorial election,” Worthy said.

He says the county has filled all of the 2,300 election officer positions needed for Nov. 8, but there is always a demand for bilingual poll workers, especially people who speak both Korean and English.

What’s New This Year

Voters may see different candidates than they anticipate on their ballot, thanks to last year’s redistricting process, which altered federal and state electoral boundaries in Virginia.

Polling sites will stay the same for 96% of voters in the county, but everyone should double check their district through the Virginia Department of Elections before voting in person, Worthy says. There have also been a few precinct changes unrelated to redistricting.

To limit confusion, the county elections office sent every voter a mailer with information about their legislative districts and polling place earlier this year.

“The office will be mailing voters a sample ballot with this same information, and the state is also sending a redistricting mailing to voters,” Worthy said.

In addition, Virginia will now let new voters register and cast a ballot up to and on Election Day. The General Assembly approved the change in 2020, but the law won’t take effect until Oct. 1.

While the new flexibility will be welcome for anyone who misses the Oct. 17 deadline, election officials don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to register. Voters who register Oct. 18 or later will get provisional ballots to allow “additional time to verify” their paperwork, according to WTOP.

Provisional ballots aren’t reviewed until after Election Day, and the state electoral board determines whether each of them can be counted.

“Because same day registration is a new law, the Office of Elections is uncertain of the impact, but they are prepared to manage a large number of same day registrants at early voting sites and polling places on Election Day, as well as to process these registrations,” Worthy said. Read More

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Local reporter Michael Lee Pope has reignited a war on social media over the name Tysons.

The micro-debacle started with Pope’s reporting on the race to take over Mark Keam’s 35th District after the delegate announced his retirement. Pope listed Keam’s district as including parts of Vianna, Oakton, Fair Oaks and — crucially “Tysons Corner.”

Tysonians may recognize this as something of a controversial issue in the area with some locals pushing to drop the corner and just call the area Tysons.

Like Beetlejuice, writing “Tysons Corner” triggered the appearance of the Tysons, VA Twitter account.

The area has been referred to as “Tysons Corner” as far back as 1854, so named for its position at the crossroads of Route 7 and Route 123, according to Greater Greater Washington.

In recent years, as Tysons has become more urbanized in its own right and less defined by the Tysons Corner Center mall, some — like the Tysons Partnership and the Tysons Chamber of Commerce — have pushed to call the area just Tysons, some citing “Tysons Corner” as sounding more rustic and less iconic.

The U.S. Census Bureau officially “dropped the corner” in 2015.

But as Arlington and Amazon have discovered, old naming habits are hard to break, and Pope identified himself as a Tysons Corner holdout, citing a 2018 poll that showed slightly more readers still called the area Tysons Corner.

Karl Frisch, one of the candidates running to replace Keam, threw his support behind just calling the area Tysons.

Maybe the official renaming of Tysons Corner Metro Station to just Tysons this past weekend will seal the deal.

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Mark Keam served as delegate for Virginia’s 35th House District for 13 years (courtesy Mark Keam)

Mark Keam’s 13-year tenure in the Virginia General Assembly has come to a close.

After accepting a position in the Office of National Travel and Tourism in the Biden administration, Keam announced on Tuesday (Sept. 6) that he has submitted his resignation as delegate for the 35th House District, which includes Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring, Oakton and Fair Oaks.

Vying to succeed him in a special election set for Jan. 10 — one day before the legislature convenes for its 2023 session — will be Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and BRAWS Executive Director Holly Seibold. Candidates can file to run until 5 p.m. on Nov. 14.

In a brief interview with FFXnow, Keam reflected on legislative highlights from his six-and-a-half terms in office, the increased diversity of the General Assembly, and his advice for the district’s next delegate.

(Editor’s note: The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of?

I’ve been very, very honored and fortunate to work on many, many issues…I’ve been able to pass, last time I counted, it was about 120 bills that I drafted myself, either under my name or something I drafted was incorporated into somebody else’s bill.

Among them, I think the one that stands out the most to me in terms of significance and [that] I feel very proud of is the Virginia Environmental Justice Act. It requires Virginia state government agencies, as they’re issuing permits and authorizations, to look at the environmental justice impact, not just in terms of how much it’s going to cost and the economics, but also who’s going to be harmed and who’s going to be benefitted from something where we’re allowing — let’s say, for example, a pipeline to go through a neighborhood or we’re building something that’s going to create smog and pollution. Because unfortunately, a lot of environmental impact, the worst part falls on people of color and minorities, poor people, uneducated people who don’t have a voice in our government.

…Another one I’m very proud of supporting and pushing through after years and years of trying is the Solar Freedom Act, which means that we allow now solar energy to be provided a lot more accessibly for families and homes and businesses and local governments, so that was something that I was very proud to do.

I think the other thing I was really, really proud to accomplish is I worked for years to get rid of the taxes on tampons and personal hygiene products, because I think that’s so discriminatory for women to have to pay taxes on tampons and menstrual pads. Guys never have to do that, so I always thought that was an unfair thing, and after working for years and years, I put the first bill in in 2016, and after working for five years, Governor Youngkin’s budget actually gets rid of that now. We were able to accomplish that, so I feel good about that. Read More

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Morning Notes

Sun shines through tree leaves in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Man Dies After Fairfax City Crash — “A 32-year-old Maryland man died from injuries he received when the motorcycle he was riding Monday afternoon collided with an SUV on Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax City, according to a police release.” [Patch]

Suspect in Fatal Springfield Stabbing Extradited — “This evening, Jose Heber Hernandez Mejia was extradited back to Fairfax County from South Carolina. He’s charged with 2nd degree murder for the July 17 domestic-related stabbing in the 5200 block of Rolling Rd. Hernandez Mejia was held on no bond.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Arrests Made in Child Solicitation Sting — “Six men ranging in ages from 26 to 43 were arrested by Fairfax County Police as part of an online sting to identify and apprehend predators seeking to exploit children using the internet, according to a police brief.” [Patch]

Food Stolen From Mount Vernon Daycare — “Officers were called to the KinderCare at 4287 Buckman Road early Monday morning for a burglary that occurred over the weekend. When officers learned thousands of dollars worth of food was stolen from the center, they quickly jumped into action to ensure the kids wouldn’t go hungry by purchasing breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Virginia Sees Bump in Pro-Choice License Plates — “Pro-life and pro-choice license plates aren’t new to Virginia: The commonwealth has issued ‘Choose Life’ plates since 2009 and ‘Trust Women. Respect Choice.’ since 2010…Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, though, more people are buying pro-choice plates.” [Washingtonian]

Fire Department Enlists Starbucks for Backpack Drive — “#FCFRD is partnering with select local @Starbucks stores to collect backpacks for underprivileged children. Backpacks will be given to local schools in #FairfaxCounty for distribution. Backpacks will be collected until August 12. Please donate a new backpack today!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Metro Seeks to Add More Trains — Metro is seeking permission to operate more of the 7000-series trains that were sidelined late last year after a derailment in Arlington, according to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. The transit agency is currently permitted to run 64 cars, or eight trains, per day, as long as their wheels are inspected daily. [The Washington Post]

State Legislators Consider Changes to Recall Process — “Activists in Virginia are increasingly turning to the state’s court-driven recall process to try to take out their frustrations on local officials they feel have done something wrong…The fact that the recalls almost never work doesn’t seem to be stopping the trend, but it’s causing some lawmakers to rethink a system that empowers judges, not voters, to decide when politicians deserve to be kicked out of office early.” [Virginia Mercury/Inside NoVA]

“American Idol” Winner to Take Wolf Trap Stage — “Her victory on Season 3 of ‘American Idol’ made her a household name. Now, Fantasia Barrino is bringing her signature sound to Wolf Trap in Virginia on Aug. 19.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 88 and low of 77. Sunrise at 6:19 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

John Foust will step down from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors after 2023, concluding a 16-year run representing the Dranesville District.

Foust announced at the board’s meeting this morning (Tuesday) that he will not seek a fifth term in office next year, when all 10 seats will be on the general election ballot that November.

“I will have much more to say about this as time goes by,” Foust said. “…For now, I just want to say it has been an absolute honor to serve on this board for the next 15 years. I just love it. I want to assure my constituents…that I and my staff will continue to work hard to represent you until my term ends on Dec. 31, 2023.”

First elected to the board in 2007, Foust has lived in McLean since 1987, according to his official bio. His district includes McLean, Herndon, Great Falls, and portions of the Vienna and Falls Church areas.

During his four terms so far, he has overseen the implementation of a much-debated new plan to revitalize downtown McLean and advocated for numerous road projects in the district, including the ongoing widening of Route 7 and a revamped intersection at Balls Hill Road and Georgetown Pike.

Foust’s tenure has also included the expansion of the Spring Hill Rec Center and the Lewinsville Senior Center’s renovation, which added 82 independent living units at the facility. Since he took office, the Dranesville District has gotten three new fire stations, two library renovations, and 16 synthetic turf fields, according to his bio.

“What you have accomplished on economic initiatives and affordable housing, particularly over the last two and a half years during some of the toughest times to govern that I think any of us have ever imagined, have been remarkable,” Chairman Jeff McKay said.

Foust didn’t share why he has decided not to seek reelection, and a request for comment from FFXnow was not immediately returned.

Most of the county’s supervisors have not indicated their intentions yet for the 2023 elections, which will also feature the full school board, the commonwealth’s attorney, and other local positions. Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk announced in June that he will run for a second term.

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Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk plans to run for reelection in 2023 (courtesy Friends of Rodney Lusk)

The 2022 general election is still almost five months away, but at least one Fairfax County supervisor already has his eyes on 2023.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk announced yesterday (Monday) that he will seek a second term in the office, though it may bear a different name by the time voters hit the polls.

“Some of the names may have changed, but the community that makes this the only place I’d ever want to call home has remained the same,” Lusk said in the video. “By remembering who we are, by remembering where we’ve come from, by remembering the commitments that we’ve made to each other, I know that we’ll build a community that we’ll all be proud to remember.”

Representing an area west of Route 1 that includes Springfield, Franconia, Kingstowne and Hybla Valley, Lusk is the first county elected official to publicly declare his intentions for the next local election cycle.

All 10 seats on the Board of Supervisors and all 12 school board seats will be up for grabs next year, when the general election will fall on Nov. 7 with potential primaries on June 20. The ballot will also have races for the Virginia General Assembly, commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff.

Elected in 2019 to succeed Jeff McKay, who now chairs the Board of Supervisors, Lusk worked for the county for 32 years and served on the planning commission and Fairfax County Park Authority board before becoming the Lee District supervisor. He was the first African American man elected to the county board, according to his campaign website.

In his campaign announcement, Lusk notes that the Route 1 workforce development center he cited as a top priority during his first campaign came to fruition with the opening of the Lee District Community Center in early May.

He also highlights his role introducing a board matter in January 2020 proposing a co-responder model for certain 911 emergency calls, where police would be accompanied by unarmed mental and behavioral health specialists. The program was introduced as a pilot in March 2021, and funding to make it permanent was included in the most recent budget approved in May.

In a statement to FFXnow, Lusk said priorities over his first four-year term have also included expanding access to affordable housing, full funding for schools, bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, criminal justice reform, and addressing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As I seek a second term, I’ll continue to champion each of these critical priorities, while leveraging those successes to build a community that is both equitable for our residents, and attractive to our business community,” Lusk said.

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