Election Day is nearly upon Fairfax County voters, who will determine the future of the county and the state when they go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
All 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are on the ballot this year, along with the 10-seat Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 12 Fairfax County School Board representatives, Fairfax County’s sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney positions, and the five-member board of directors for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.
Here are all the candidates up for election by Fairfax County voters on Tuesday. Anyone unsure of where to vote or what district they belong to can find their assigned polling place and election district by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections website at elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal.
VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Senate District 32
Janet Howell (D) has served in the Virginia State Senate since 1992. As the first woman on the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate’s only female budget conferee, Howell has gained an influential position in the chamber, and her past legislative work includes efforts around genetic information privacy, family violence prevention, and mental health reform. A former Parent-Teacher Association president, she cites education, children, and families as top priorities.
Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance president Arthur Purves (R) is a 43-year resident of Vienna and a retired computer programmer. He has sought public office seven times since 1995 on a platform of ending racial inequality in Virginia public schools by returning to an emphasis on phonics, arithmetic drills, and the Bible. He decided to challenge Howell, because he opposes her positions on abortion rights, family life education, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gun control, Inside NOVA reported in June.
Senate District 33
Jennifer Boysko (D) was elected to the State Senate on Jan. 8 in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). She previously represented the 86th House District as a delegate from 2016 to 2019. After defeating challenger Mohammed Sharafat Hussain in June’s Democratic primary, she is now seeking her first full term as a state senator. In the last General Assembly session, she successfully led a bill to reduce taxes on menstrual and feminine hygiene products, and she says common sense gun legislation is the issue she hears about most from constituents, expressing support for measures like universal background checks and red flag laws.
Challenger Suzanne Fox (R) is an entrepreneur who currently owns and operates a wedding and event planning company called Legacy Weddings in Loudoun County. In 2014, she was elected to the Leesburg Town Council, where her campaign says her focus has been on lowering taxes, reducing regulations, and securing funding for transportation projects. Her top priority is traffic congestion and toll relief, and if elected, she would push to reinstitute funding that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority lost to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. She also wants to strengthen Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, encourage alternative healthcare provider models, and support charter schools and home schooling.
Senate District 34
Chap Petersen (D) is a Fairfax native and attorney whose private law firm, Chap Petersen & Associates, operates out of downtown Fairfax City. Before being first elected to the State Senate in 2007, he served on the Fairfax City Council and in the Virginia House of Delegates. His legislative record includes advocating for an increase to the state’s felony larceny threshold, sponsoring a bill that established George Mason University’s branch campus in South Korea, and allowing local school boards to consider recess in calculating total instructional time. Petersen is running unopposed this year.
Senate District 35
Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw (D) has represented the 35th District, which includes the City of Falls Church as well as portions of Fairfax County and Alexandria City, since 1980. He helped lead the Democrats’ ultimately successful effort to expand Medicaid in 2018, when he also introduced a bill that established an annual revenue stream to WMATA for its Metro system. Saslaw does not have an opponent in the general election, but he narrowly won the Democratic nomination in June over human rights lawyer Yasmine Taeb, who was his first primary challenger in 40 years.
Senate District 37
A native of Alexandria and W.T. Woodson High School graduate, David Marsden (D) joined the State Senate in 2010 after serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006 to 2010. He previously worked in the juvenile justice system, first as a probation officer and later as the first superintendent of the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center. In the 2019 session, his sponsored legislation included a minimum wage increase and a bill allowing people to be held civilly liable for negligent gun storage that results in injury or death, though both bills died in the Republican-controlled legislature. He is running unopposed.
Senate District 39
First elected to the State Senate in 2007, George Barker (D) previously served as executive director for the Greater Prince William Community Health Center and as a health planner for the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia. He helped transform Tysons Corner as chair of the Fairfax County Transportation Advisory Commission and vice chair of the Tysons Task Force. On his Facebook page, he says he plans to keep focusing on issues in transportation, education, healthcare, and the environment.
S.W. “Dutch” Hillenburg (R) describes himself as a retired federal government employee and disabled veteran. In the League of Women Voters Vote411 guide, he named transportation as the greatest challenge in Northern Virginia, suggesting that expanded park and ride facilities as well as dedicated express buses from outlying areas would improve commuter options. He opposes the Virginia Redistricting Commission’s proposal to create a commission responsible for drawing the state’s district lines, and he argues gun violence should be addressed by opening state-operated mental health facilities.
House District 34
A delegate for the past five years, Kathleen Murphy (D) co-founded the General Assembly’s gun violence prevention caucus and has been a particularly committed proponent of stricter gun laws after her brother was shot and killed at his workplace. Before entering elected office, she served as president of a McLean consulting firm and worked as a senior advisor for international trade issues at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She also helped found Salute Our Services, which connects deployed service members to their families, and Kids Serve Too, which supports children in military families.
Gary Pan (R) has lived in the 34th House District for more than 20 years and works as a small business owner, serving as president and CEO of Panacea Consulting and director of Lucid Technology. As the father of three sons, he has volunteered as a scoutmaster and uniformed adult leader for the Boy Scouts for over 14 years, founding and becoming camp director for the Wolf Trap First Time Campers Program. Pan’s priorities include addressing the opioid drug crisis, protecting the environment, fighting for state education funding to come to Northern Virginia, and reducing taxes and regulations on businesses.
House District 35
When he was elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Mark Keam (D) became the first Korean American and the first Asian-born immigrant to hold any state-level elected office in Virginia. He was born in Korea and lived in Vietnam and Australia before moving to the U.S. as a teenager. He has worked as a lawyer, a career that includes a stint as chief council to a U.S. Senate assistant leader, as well as an entrepreneur and independent business consultant. His legislative record includes work on public education, the environment, and transportation.
House District 36
Kenneth Plum (D) is running unopposed. A retired teacher and administrator with nearly 30 years of experience in schools, Plum has been in the House of Delegates since 1982 and was a former state chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. He expressed support for the Virginia Green New Deal to tackle climate issues while building a sustainable, inclusive economy in a newsletter to constituents on Oct. 23.
House District 37
Also unopposed is David Bulova (D), a Fairfax resident and son of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. First elected to the General Assembly in 2005, he works as a project manager for the company Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, where he helps government and industry comply with environmental regulations. He told Vote411 that his top priorities in the upcoming General Assembly session would include supporting renewable energy, reforming Standards of Learning for the Virginia public education system, creating more walkable communities, and advocating for a reinsurance program to stabilize the ACA healthcare marketplace.
House District 38
Kaye Kory (D) is running without a challenger on the ballot after holding off Citizens’ Climate Lobby senior director of government affairs Andres Jimenez in the Democratic primary on June 11. A 35-year resident of Fairfax County, Kory believes the top priorities for her district are funding for transportation and education, and environmental protections, including the addition of 5,000 megawatts of wind and solar energy and net-metering infrastructure. She has also pledged to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and chairs the Women’s Reproductive Health Care Caucus in the General Assembly.
House District 39
In one of the state’s most anticipated races, incumbent Timothy Hugo (R) seeks to retain his seat in the face of a challenge from U.S. Army veteran Dan Helmer (D). Formerly president of the technology association CapNet, Hugo was elected to the House of Delegates in 2002 and is now the chamber’s majority caucus chairman, making him third in line in the Republican Party’s state leadership. During the 2019 session, he sponsored a bill that allowed for itemized deductions as part of the party’s tax relief plan, and in 2018, he led efforts to decrease tolling on Interstate 66, though none of the bills made it out of the appropriations committee.
Helmer is running for state office after failing to secure the Democratic nomination in the 2018 race for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District seat. The son of immigrants and grandson of Holocaust survivors, he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and now works as a consultant at a small business that deals with veterans’ healthcare. He sees an opening in the 40th House District after Hugo won reelection in 2017 by just 106 votes, criticizing the incumbent for his record on gun safety while positioning himself as a supporter of women’s rights and healthcare. If Helmer wins, Fairfax County will be represented entirely by Democrats at the state level.
House District 41
Eileen Filler-Corn (D) first took office in the House of Delegates in 2010, and she became the first woman to lead a caucus in the chamber’s 400-year history on Jan. 1 when she chosen to helm the House Democratic Caucus. In the past, she has championed legislation to require that health insurance carriers cover contraceptive drugs, devices, and procedures as well as a bill that would set minimum age limits to purchase handguns and assault firearms.
Filler-Corn faces opposition from Libertarian Party candidate Rachel Mace and independent candidate John Michael Wolfe. Mace says that she wants to reduce all taxes and spending by 10 percent; end the war on drugs, including by legalizing marijuana and returning Virginia’s age limit for tobacco products to 18 after it was raised to 21 as of July 1; and eliminating business regulations, including the state minimum wage.
Wolfe lives in Burke and works as president of the company Wolfe Web Solutions. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and from George Mason University with a master’s in information systems.
House District 42
Kathy Tran (D) was elected to the House of Delegates in 2017 as the first Asian American woman to serve in the House. Tran came to the U.S. after her family fled Vietnam as refugees when she was 7 months old. She became a target of conservative ire earlier this year when she erroneously testified during a legislative hearing that a bill aimed at reducing barriers to getting an abortion would allow for the procedure to be conducted up to the moment of birth. She has maintained her support for improving reproductive health care access, making it a priority along with military veterans and families, and public education.
Steve Adragna (R) has experience in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he worked for 13 years before transitioning to the private sector in 2002. His past work in the Fairfax County community includes activism around the redevelopment of the Laurel Hill prison complex and a stint as outreach director for the Springfield District Republican Committee. He wants to focus on quality-of-life issues, such as the economy, jobs, transportation, education, and public safety, decrying what he sees as the General Assembly’s fixation on divisive agendas. His campaign website calls Tran’s proposed legislation “extremist.”
House District 43
Originally elected to the House of Delegates in 2003, Mark Sickles (D) currently serves as the House Democratic Caucus deputy minority leader. Before getting into the state legislature, he was appointed to the Fairfax County Library Board for 11 years, and he continues to work in government relations with the construction contractor Weeks Marine. As a member of the House appropriations committee, Sickles says his priorities include improving public transportation, ensuring quality pre-school education for at-risk children, and addressing the affordability of higher education.
Gail Parker is a candidate for the Independent Green Party, running her fourth campaign for state delegate since 2009. She has also run for Congress twice, once in 2012 and again in 2014. Citing transportation, especially mass transit and rail service, and access to affordable housing as the top concerns for Northern Virginia, Parker says she supports policies that encourage the use of renewable energy as well as legislation to make mental health assistance more accessible. She works as a senior acquisition program analyst.
House District 44
A nonprofit lawyer and lifelong Mount Vernon resident, Paul Krizek (D) entered politics as a legislative aide for former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), and he has chaired the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 2015 and is a member of the Virginia State Crime Commission, which was assigned to review gun violence prevention proposals from the General Assembly’s special session in July. Krizek says he supports all of those measures, including universal background checks and prohibiting people convicted of violence misdemeanors from possessing guns. His top priority is the revitalization of the Route 1 corridor.
Richard Hayden (D) moved to Washington, D.C., in 1984 to attend law school. He subsequently opened a law practice centered on real estate and business law, and he now works as a counsel for a settlement company in Kingstowne. If elected, he plans to advocate for more tax relief and funding for school safety and road infrastructure, criticizing Krizek for raising issues like climate change and abortion regulations.
House District 45
Mark Levine (D), who is running unopposed, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2015 and previously served as legislative counsel to former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). He co-founded the Virginia Transparency Caucus in the General Assembly, which is dedicated to making the state legislature more accessible to the public. His record includes a unanimously approved bill extending the time required to preserve physical evidence recovery kits and obtaining sexual assault nurse examination services at Inova Fairfax through a federal grant.
House District 53
Marcus Simon (D) joined the House of Delegates in 2014. He previously worked for then-Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine Hanley before becoming an Army captain assigned to the Military District of Washington, where he served as a prosecutor. His patroned bills in the 2019 General Assembly session includes penalties for the manufacture, import, sale, transfer, or possession of undetectable firearms and the adoption of gender-neutral terms in the Code of Virginia.
FAIRFAX COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
With sitting chair Sharon Bulova retiring, voters will choose new leadership for the only countywide position on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay (D) is Bulova’s preferred successor after chairing the board’s budget and legislative committees. He held off three primary opponents to win the Democratic nomination in June, despite allegations of a conflict-of-interest violation related to his relationship with a developer. He hopes to continue his past work on the board, which included co-sponsoring the One Fairfax equity resolution in 2017, by investing in environmental measures, transportation infrastructure, education, and economic development.
Joe Galdo (R) officially joined the Fairfax County Republican Committee in April when he decided to seek the chairman position on the Board of Supervisors. A former federal government worker who spent time with the Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, Galdo ran for elected office before in 2012 and 2014 as a Green Party candidate for Virginia’s 11th District seat in the House of Representatives. If elected, he says his priorities would include reevaluating county spending, slowing down the pace of development and ensuring infrastructure can accommodate growth, and addressing housing affordability and traffic congestion.
Jason Remer (R) has been officially endorsed by Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, who announced his intention to retire in November 2018. An engineer with 36 years of experience in the energy and homeland security industries, Remer is the Republican Party’s hope to retain one of its two seats on the Board of Supervisors. He supports the Diversion First initiative that Cook led as chair of the board’s public safety committee and cites transportation, clean energy, career and technical education, and cost-of-living reduction among his priorities.
Democrats chose James Walkinshaw as their nominee to take control of the Braddock District seat in June. The longtime chief of staff for Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) touted his experience in both county and national politics to beat primary challenger Irma Corado. He also serves as vice president of his neighborhood civic association and on the Fairfax County Council to End Domestic Violence. His priorities are maintaining high-quality public schools, expanding public transportation options, and preserving the environment and open space.
Independent Greens of Virginia candidate Carey Chet Campbell is on his fifth attempt to serve on the board as Braddock District supervisor, starting with a run against Sharon Bulova in 2007. He also lost to Bulova in a special election for chairman in 2009. A U.S. Air Force veteran and former broadcast journalist for the Armed Forces Network, Campbell works as an accountant and has participated on the Braddock District Council. His campaign prioritizes transportation and the environment, calling for more transit infrastructure and investment in renewable energy.
Incumbent John Foust (D) is seeking his fourth term representing a district that encompasses McLean and Tysons. Among his past accomplishments, he lists expanding full-day kindergarten for the whole county, obtaining funding to widen Route 7 from Tysons to Reston and other road and capital improvements, and leading efforts to fight climate change as co-sponsor of a green initiatives board matter with recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Going forward, his priorities include strengthening the local economy, supporting the school system, and addressing congestion as chair of the board’s transportation committee.
Ed Martin (R) is president of the conservative Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, according to The Washington Post. He also works as a radio talk show host for The Ed Martin Movement and has prior political experience as chief of staff to former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. He has criticized Foust for the One Fairfax policy, which commits county officials to considering social and racial equity when making decisions, and for taking a proposed partial interchange out of the Route 7 widening project. He wants to increase transparency around county spending and operations, reinforce emergency management preparations, and add an inspector general, according to an Inside Nova profile.
Hunter Mill District
Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn (D) is running unopposed after beating four other candidates in a crowded Democratic primary. His proposals include revising the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston, along with adding new affordable housing, lobbying the General Assembly for local authority to regulate guns, and developing a county energy and climate action plan.
With McKay leaving his post after three terms to run for chairman, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority national marketing director Rodney Lusk (D) is in position to take over as supervisor for Lee District. A native Virginian and 29-year Fairfax County employee, Lusk served as a land use zoning aide for Connolly when the congressman was on the Board of Supervisors. His priorities are education, workforce development, affordable housing, and creating a more equitable community.
First elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1995, Penny Gross (D) is seeking her seventh term as Mason District supervisor. She currently serves as the board’s vice-chair and chairs the personnel policy and reorganization committee as well as the environmental committee, and she has represented the county on the regional Metropolitan Council of Governments board of directors since 1997. According to the Vote411 voters’ guide, her priorities include quality public schools, affordable and accessible housing, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, congestion relief, and commercial area revitalization.
Gross’s challenger Gary Aiken (R) hopes to bring his financial expertise as a chief risk officer for the not-for-profit American Armed Forces Mutual Aid to the Board of Supervisors, arguing that his perspective would be helpful for navigating the county budget and addressing issues like pension reform. A 15-year resident of Fairfax County, he holds the treasurer position on the Fairfax County Republican Committee. His vision for Mason District includes supporting commercial redevelopment in Bailey’s Crossroads, addressing traffic and parking challenges, and fixing school capacity issues.
Mount Vernon District
In his first term as supervisor for Mount Vernon, Dan Storck (D) emerged as a vocal climate advocate on the Board of Supervisors, as the former Fairfax County School Board member championed the creation of an office of energy and environment and a joint environmental task force. He also oversaw planning, design, and community input for the Embark Richmond Highway initiative to bring multimodal transportation, including a bus rapid transit system, to that corridor. The Lorton Community Center and Library has been one of the more polarizing projects under his watch with some community members in nearby neighborhoods objecting to the loss of green space on the selected site.
Dalia Palchik (D) told the Fairfax County Times in March that she was motivated to run for supervisor by the same desire to address systemic inequities that drove her to become Providence District’s representative on the Fairfax County School Board in 2015. The boards’ joint adoption of the One Fairfax policy in 2017 remains her proudest accomplishment in her one term on the school board. As supervisor, she hopes to increase access to affordable housing, expand the availability of pre-kindergarten education, and set county targets for reducing carbon emissions, among other goals. She got the Democratic nomination for retiring Supervisor Linda Smyth’s position over three other primary candidates.
Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer Eric Anthony Jones (R) filed to run as the Republican nominee for Providence District on Oct. 10 after the party’s original choice for the position, retired Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration manager Paul Bolon, died from a heart attack in August. A 27-year Fairfax County resident, Jones worked as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State for 28 years and has also taught international relations, government, and world energy policy, among other subjects, at different universities. His priorities include education, evaluating the county budget by utilizing zero-based budgeting and other approaches, public safety, transportation, and affordable housing. He supports maintaining tax exemptions for religious institutions, abolishing county taxes on food and groceries, and preserving “public female modesty” in county schools and recreational facilities.
While there was speculation that he might attempt a run at chairman with Bulova retiring, Pat Herrity (R) ultimately decided to seek a fourth term as supervisor for the Springfield District. The son of former Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Herrity, he has touted his Fairfax County roots and public service experience. His past work includes acquiring funding for a Rolling Road north loop and other road improvement projects, chairing the Fairfax County Sports Tourism Task Force, and introducing medication drop boxes in county police stations. If reelected, he says he would focus on traffic congestion, tax relief, public safety, and education.
Linda Sperling (D) is a marketing director and former professor who taught at George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and the University of Phoenix. As a first-time candidate, Sperling sees her lack of established political experience as an asset, arguing that she can bring a fresh perspective to a district in need of new leadership. Her top priorities are maintaining the quality of public education while reducing class sizes and supporting faculty and staff, decreasing congestion and building up the county’s public transportation infrastructure, and keeping communities safe and affordable for all residents.
Kathy Smith (D) was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2015 after 14 years on the school board. A former teacher and a parent-teacher association president at all three Fairfax County Public Schools attended by her four children, Smith values fiscal responsibility, good schools, and the environment with her campaign receiving endorsements from organizations like the Sierra Club and the Fairfax Education Association. Her priorities include affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, livable wages, public safety, and carbon footprint reduction.
Srilekha Palle (R) decided to run for Sully District supervisor after observing racial disparities in student participation in enrichment activities while volunteering at her daughter’s school. An immigrant who came to the U.S. from India to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy, Palle has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry and recently started a home health business that provides caregiving services to elderly and disabled residents. Her top priorities are to restore fiscal discipline, support law enforcement, end policies that protect undocumented immigrants, and improve commuter conditions, including opposing tolls and enhancing mass transit.
FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
After joining the school board by winning a special election in 2017, Karen Keys-Gamarra is seeking her first full term on the board and is the only sitting at-large member up for reelection, since Ilryong Moon withdrew his candidacy in August and Ryan McElveen opted instead to run for Board of Supervisors chair. A practicing family law attorney and court-appointed guardian ad litem for children, she previously served Fairfax County as a planning commissioner and ran for the school board’s Sully District seat in 2015. She says her top priorities as a school board member are to support faculty and staff and to make education more accessible, highlighting her past support for employee compensation increases and the One Fairfax policy.
Cheryl Buford is a former teacher and U.S. Department of Education administrator who now works as vice president for business development for the Reston-based consulting company Social Capital Valuations LLC. Frustrated by the rigidity of the No Child Left Behind Act and lack of progress in closing academic achievement gaps, she believes hiring good teachers and giving them adequate time, resources, and working conditions is the most important step to ensuring all students are supported. She also cites educating students for a global workforce and making career and technical education available among her top concerns.
A first-generation American whose family came from El Salvador, Priscilla DeStefano is a longtime Fairfax County resident and mother of two children. She attended Robinson Secondary School before transferring to Mountain View High School, and she later obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing from George Mason University. She decided to run for school board because she believed its focus had shifted away from rigorous academics and more on partisan political issues. She has pledged to put education first, to support parental rights by prioritizing transparency and accountability, and to help prepare all students for the future workforce.
Abrar Omeish’s desire to serve on the school board was shaped by her experience as an alumna of Fairfax County Public Schools. Currently a full-time student seeking to pursue a graduate degree at Georgetown University, she founded Robinson Secondary School’s Young Democrats chapter and started a student mentoring organization called Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education. She has also served on multiple FCPS committees, including the human resources advisory committee and a school board committee on student discipline. Her top priorities include equity, mental health, teacher and staff support, and budget management.
McLean resident Vinson Palathingal is an information technology engineer and the executive director of Indo-American Center, a nonprofit think tank that he founded. He prides himself on the values of family and hard work instilled in him during his conservative Catholic upbringing in India. He prioritizes academic success and believes FCPS should introduce a more drill-based approach as well as supplemental enrichment programs. He also lists fiscal prudence and transparency among his priorities, criticizing the school board’s process for changing J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School and its actions regarding family life education.
Motivated by a desire to help her son, who has autism, Rachna Sizemore Heizer is a disability justice advocate with experience on the Fairfax County Special Education Parent-Teacher Association and the Fairfax County School Board Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities. She sees becoming a school board representative as a path to taking a more central role in addressing accessibility and equity issues in the county school system. She currently teaches online employment law courses for Texas Tech University and worked as a corporate law attorney before transitioning to public policy.
Megan McLaughlin has lived in Braddock District since 2000 and was first elected to the school board in 2011. She has worked as a college admissions officer and employment developer at an adult day facility, and with a master’s degree in social work, she has served as a Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court volunteer instructor and counselor. McLaughlin was a founding member of the county’s Successful Children and Youth Policy Team and says early childhood education, mental health services, teacher support and autonomy, and collaboration with the Board of Supervisors are among the issues that she cares about.
Zia Tompkins serves as a Department of Defense civilian supporting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he has also worked as a nuclear physicist for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after 9/11 and overseas with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He believes the current school board has allowed personal, partisan ideologies to affect policy, and he opposes any broad changes to school boundaries. Other concerns for Tompkins include addressing student privacy concerns from their use of technology and providing more resources to before and after-school child care programs.
With current Dranesville District representative Jane Strauss leaving the school board this year, three candidates are vying for her seat. Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District director and treasurer Elaine Tholen works as a science teacher and an educational consultant with experience in Fairfax County Public Schools at all levels, including administration. She managed the FCPS Get2Green program, which promotes environmental stewardship, for eight years. Her priorities include community engagement, career readiness, cultural sensitivity in the learning environment, school safety, and capacity issues.
A Philadelphia native, Ardavan Mobasheri has a professional background in engineering and economics as a Wall Street executive with investment banking and insurance companies. He moved to Fairfax County with his family in 2017 and now works as a managing director and chief investment officer for the investment advisor ACIMA Private Wealth. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond, Fairfield University, City University of New York, and other institutions since 2003. He is advocating for facilities and infrastructure investments to address overcrowding, rather than boundary changes, as well as greater school board transparency and more ambitious environmental initiatives.
Now a parent of four children who lives in McLean, Anastasia Karloutsos founded a nonprofit when she was in high school to provide a safe after-school learning environment for low-income elementary school students. She has worked as a community and public relations officer for the School District of Philadelphia and served on the Board of HOPE Partnership for Education for six years. She moved to Northern Virginia in 2017 and developed an emergency preparedness plan with the University of the District of Columbia. Her priorities include investing in teachers, allocating more funding to capital improvement needs, and expanding mental health resources.
Hunter Mill District
Melanie Meren hopes to put her experience in education policy to use as the aspiring successor to departing Hunter Mill District Representative Pat Hynes. She began her career working in the U.S. Department of Education with a focus on early childhood programs and high-poverty Title I schools. After working as an FCPS substitute teacher upon moving to Vienna in 2005, she now runs an independent consulting firm that specializes in education reform and advocacy. Her priorities include encouraging a holistic education, improving access to school programs and activities for all students, offering competitive compensation and support to school staff, and eliminating the threat of gun violence in schools.
A Mexican immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, Laura Ramirez-Drain has been an engineer and marketing professional, and now serves as CEO of the Vienna-based agency Random Words Marketing Group. She later started the nonprofit Alcanzando Metas Foundation to support Hispanic youth interested in math, science, and technology, and she also produces and hosts a bilingual radio talk show called Café Latino. Ramirez-Drain wants to improve communication between FCPS and immigrant families, and she believes student achievement gaps can be most effectively closed by addressing the needs of individual students through mentoring. She also wants to reduce the administrative burden on teachers and encourage parental involvement in education.
Tamara Derenak Kaufax is running unopposed for her third term as the Lee District school board representative. She has a background in management and marketing, and she made equity in program and curriculum offerings a key part of her platform when she first ran for office in 2011, later serving as the Successful Children and Youth Policy Team co-chair when the school board adopted the One Fairfax policy. Ensuring equity continues to be one of her priorities, along with eliminating opportunity gaps and advocating for full funding of public schools from the county and the state.
With Sandy Evans retiring, longtime school administrator Ricardy Anderson and data analyst Tom Pafford are seeking to represent Mason on the school board. Anderson’s experience in education spans more than two decades, starting with a teaching job in Prince George’s County, Md., and continuing to her July 2018 retirement as principal of Cardinal Ridge Elementary School in Centreville. She is also a veteran of the National Guard Army Reserve and a first-generation American. Her priorities include making One Fairfax a reality by giving teachers and staff the resources they need, addressing middle school start times, and protecting funds for needs-based staffing.
While school board candidates all run as independents, Pafford received an endorsement from the Fairfax County Republican Committee in May over fellow Republican contender Linda Pelligrino. His campaign website suggests that his primary concern is fighting policies aimed at protecting transgender students from discrimination.
Mount Vernon District
Karen Corbett-Sanders is seeking reelection after serving as chair of the Fairfax County School Board for the past two years. A former business executive, she lists increased pay for teachers and support staff, the creation of a free bus pass program for middle and high school students, and the adoption of a new school resource officer memorandum of understanding to clearly delegate responsibilities among her past accomplishments. Her priorities include ensuring equity of access and opportunity, mental health support resources, attraction and retention of teachers, and early childhood education access.
A D.C. area native, Steven Mosley is a graduate of Liberty University and worked as a student conduct officer there for close to three years before becoming the Northern Virginia Community College coordinator for student integrity and conduct. He describes himself as a Christian, conservative college educator and administrator, and he has been ordained as a Baptist minister. His priorities include bridging the achievement gap for minority and special education students, reforming family life education to promote abstinence and traditional family values, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, and expanding school choice, including bringing charter schools to Fairfax County.
Pamela Ononiwu decided to run for school board in the hopes of serving as a voice for students and families with disabilities, particularly those affected by FCPS’s underreporting of the use of restraint and seclusion as disciplinary measures. She has worked at George Mason University as an education support specialist and published a children’s book with her daughter. In addition to addressing concerns about discipline, she is also advocating for more transparency around the school system’s reporting practices for the handling of sexual assault and harassment allegations. She would also make closing the achievement gap a priority.
Former small business owner Karl Frisch received the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s endorsement to take over for Palchik as the Providence District school board representative. His resume boasts political and communications work ranging from 11 months as a U.S. House of Representatives press secretary to more than four years as a senior fellow and communications director at Media Matters for America. If elected, he would be Fairfax County’s first openly gay school board member. His priorities include expediting renovations to improve facilities and reduce the number of trailers, investing in career and technical education programs, and creating a safe learning environment by enhancing mental health services rather than arming teachers.
Andrea Bayer is a Falls Church High School graduate with experience in public relations and government contracting, though she left her career two decades ago to focus on parenting and community volunteering. She has taught English and language arts as a preschool teacher and a substitute, and she has also served as a PTA president, private tutor, and religious teacher. She currently serves as an elections officer and belongs to the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance and Fairfax County Committee of 100. Her priorities include academics, parental involvement and oversight, reducing the use of digital technology in the classroom, and bringing fiscal prudence to the budget process.
Elizabeth Schultz is seeking her third term representing Springfield on the school board. Before getting elected to the board in 2011, Schultz worked as a senior manager of contracts for the national defense contractor EG&G. She was the founding president of the Republican Women of Clifton and previously served on the board of the Fairfax Education Coalition. She has become an established conservative voice on the predominantly liberal school board. Her priorities include reforming FCPS discipline practices, investing tax dollars in the classroom, and reducing class sizes by maximizing the use of existing school facilities.
Laura Jane Cohen is a 20-year resident of Fairfax County and the owner of a small vintage furniture business in Clifton. She has worked as a preschool teacher and as a long-term substitute for Fairfax County, and she is an appointee to the FCPS Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee. Her priorities include ensuring student success by improving access, equity, and accountability, making schools safe by investing in mental health services and facility renovations as well as protecting students and staff from discrimination, and expanding career and technical education offerings.
West Springfield resident and Kyle McDaniel owns a furniture rental company and previously got involved in county politics as an aide and policy director for Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity. He is active in the Tysons Partnership and serves on the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce policy council. Key issues for him include reopening Clifton Elementary School, implementing a multi-year budget process to ensure wise fiscal decision making, and working with the community to address safety concerns. He opposes bringing security measures like metal detectors and armed guards into schools.
An attorney and Lake Braddock High School alumnus, Tom Wilson is seeking his second term on the school board after first being elected in 2015. He served in the U.S. Army for four years during the Gulf War after graduating from college, and he opened his own corporate real estate law firm in 2008. He also teaches religious education classes to middle school students as an active member of his parish at St. John Neumann Catholic Church. His priorities include taking partisan politics out of the school board, helping teachers handle students with behavioral issues, adopting an opt-in process for family life education, and giving teachers competitive salaries and other supports.
Stella Pekarsky grew up in Alexandria as the oldest daughter of Greek immigrants, an experience that made her understand the importance of education and forced her to navigate two different languages and cultures. She moved to Centreville in 2001 after becoming certified as an English as a Second Language teacher and pursuing full-time teaching for FCPS. She now runs the daily operations for a family air charter business and got involved in advocacy with the More Recess for Virginians movement, which pushed state legislators to let localities give students more recreational time. Her priorities include ensuring educators have adequate resources and support, eliminating trailers and alleviating overcrowding by modernizing facilities, and promoting critical thinking and technological skill development across grade levels.
OTHER LOCAL OFFICES
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney
Former federal prosecutor Steve Descano (D) pulled off an upset in June by defeating longtime Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh to secure the Democratic nomination. A West Point graduate and U.S. Army helicopter pilot, he served the Obama administration for six years as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice with stints in the Eastern District of Virginia, the criminal tax division, and the consumer protection branch. His campaign has been propelled by promises of progressive reforms, including the elimination of cash bail, stopping prosecutions for marijuana possession, and declining to pursue the death penalty.
Jonathan Fahey has worked in the public legal system for 19 years as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia and an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in the Fairfax County office. He launched his campaign as an independent candidate in August and has since received endorsements from the Fairfax County Republican Committee and, notably, Morrogh, who resigned from the Democratic Party in September. Fahey has decried Descano’s proposals as putting politics over public safety and instead hopes to continue reforms implemented under Morrogh’s leadership, including a veteran’s court and other alternatives to incarceration. He also lists gang violence and the opioid crisis among his top concerns.
Fairfax County Sheriff
Stacey Kincaid became the first woman to lead the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office when she won a special election in 2013. Reelected in 2015, she helped spearhead the county’s Diversion First initiative to offer treatment and other alternatives instead of incarceration to people with mental health challenges and developmental disabilities. She also started a Striving to Achieve Recovery addiction treatment program in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, and next to public safety, her priorities include enabling inmate reentry into the community and increasing community engagement. She has faced scrutiny for the use of force against inmates, especially in the 2015 death of Alexandria resident Natasha McKenna, and the jail’s policies on cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Small business owner Christopher De Carlo is running as an independent candidate for county sheriff with the stated goal of improving civility by arresting elected officials for bribery to set a higher standard of conduct in government. The Voter411 voter guide identifies him as a father to five teenagers and author of a parent/teen handbook called What Now?
Fairfax County Soil and Water Conservation Director
The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is governed by a five-member board of directors. Voters choose three directors in a general election every four years, while the remaining two are appointed by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.
The Fairfax County Democratic Committee-endorsed slate of candidates includes Audubon Naturalist Society Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager Monica Billger, NVSWCD associate director and environmental scientist Chris Koerner, and Fairfax County Tree Commission representative Gerald Peters, the only incumbent director on the ballot.
The Fairfax County Republican Committee endorsed former Department of Justice trial attorney Christopher Bowen, U.S. Department of Defense contractor and Fairfax County Park Authority volunteer site leader Jane Dudik, and Edward McGovern, who has worked in the Department of Defense, primarily as a funding, personnel, and policy coordinator.
Jonah Thomas is running for the conservation district board as a Green candidate. He has a background in biomathematics, which he says involves making mathematical or computer models of systems to illustrate assumptions about systems, rather than predictions.
In addition to selecting state and local representatives, Fairfax County voters will vote on a public school bond referendum seeking $360 million in capital improvement bonds to fund Fairfax County Public Schools construction, renovation, and improvement projects.
According to FCPS, the projects covered under the 2019 school bond referendum are as follows:
New construction (locations to be determined)
- Fairfax/Oakton area elementary school (construction): $35.3 million
- Silver Line Elementary School (planning): $2 million
- One modular addition relocation: $ 2 million
- West Potomac High School addition (construction): $22.3 million
- Justice High School addition (construction): $14.6 million
- James Madison High School addition (construction): $19.5 million
- Elementary schools
- Hybla Valley (construction): $27.3 million
- Washington Mill (construction): $28.7 million
- Braddock (construction): $33 million
- Fox Mill (construction): $28.4 million
- Oak Hill (construction): $33.5 million
- Wakefield Forest (planning): $1.2 million
- Louise Archer (planning): $1.7 million
- Crossfield (planning): $1.4 million
- Mosby Woods (planning): $1.7 million
- Bonnie Brae (planning): $1.6 million
- Middle schools
- Cooper (construction): $49.6 million
- Frost (construction): $53.4 million
The final day to vote absentee in-person is Nov. 2 at 5:00 p.m. The Virginia Department of Elections started mailing out absentee ballots on Sept. 20, and all ballots must be returned by the 7:00 p.m. deadline on Nov. 5.
Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Virginia law requires that all in-person voters display photo identification when they go to their precinct.
Accepted forms of identification, which can be used to vote up to one year after their expiration date, include a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a student photo ID issued by a Virginia school, college, or university, and a U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo identification card.
A full list of acceptable photo identification options can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections website.