Karrie Delaney is not all that new to the political arena.
The Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) board of trustees chair was appointed to the city council for West Melbourne, Fla., in 2004, but she lost the scheduled election later that year after voting in support of raising taxes, according to a profile of the Virginia House of Delegates candidate in The Connection.
Normally, increasing taxes would seem like an automatic turn-off to voters for any political candidate, but as she now seeks to unseat four-term incumbent James LeMunyon (R-67th District), Delaney argues that her stint on the West Melbourne City Council shows her willingness to make tough decisions regardless of how it might affect her election chances.
“It’s an example of putting people before politics,” Delaney said. “Our revenue, it just couldn’t keep up with the demands on our police and infrastructure…We had a financial crisis, and I was serving on that council to fix things, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The daughter of a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea in the 1950s, Delaney is the first woman to challenge LeMunyon for the 67th District, which encompasses part of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.
LeMunyon was first elected in 2009 and defeated Democratic candidates in 2011 and 2013 before running opposed in the 2015 general election.
However, Delaney might have an advantage that her predecessors lacked in a district that has favored Republicans since a redistricting effort in 2011, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).
Namely, the Democratic nominee was once a registered Republican.
When she lived in Florida and served on the West Melbourne City Council, Delaney was a member of the GOP, but she has since switched to the Democratic party.
“I shared different viewpoints when it came to different issues,” Delaney said. “My views have evolved and my way of thinking about certain issues has evolved, specifically what it means to be fiscally responsible.”
Delaney has also worked for members of both the U.S.’s major political parties.
As a volunteer sexual assault counselor and board president of a crisis counseling organization, she was hired to work with juvenile offenders by a Republican state’s attorney’s office while living in Florida.
She was later appointed to the Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council, which trains first responders and community organizations in emergency preparedness, by former Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey, a Republican.
Delaney also currently serves on Virginia’s Commission on Youth after being appointed by outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is a Democrat.
If there were any initial doubts about Delaney’s Democratic bona fides, they seem to have dissipated, as she defeated fellow candidates Hannah Risheq and John Carey in the June 13 Democratic primary.
During the three-way primary battle, Risheq, a social worker, accused Delaney of hiding her Republican past, according to a May 19 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Even before her primary victory, Delaney received endorsements from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District), and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.
In addition to touting her past experience dealing with both sides of the political aisle, Delaney believes that her professional work in the human services field has given her necessary insight into how local and state policies affect people on the ground.
Upon moving to Northern Virginia, the Chantilly resident became the communications director for Shared Hope International, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated to preventing sex trafficking.
Delaney left Shared Hope to focus on raising her family and later started her own small consulting firm, according to the biography on her campaign’s website.
“Working in the human services field, working with children who were in foster care, working as a sexual assault crisis counselor, those experiences were definitely pivotal to me having the opportunity to see that we don’t often enough have leaders in government who are putting people first,” Delaney said.
If elected, Delaney says that her biggest priorities would be to bring more education funding from the state back to Northern Virginia, to implement long-term transportation reform to relieve traffic congestion, and to support local businesses in creating well-paying jobs.
On her website, the House of Delegates candidate pledges to expand Medicaid coverage and advocate for stronger gun laws, including expanded background checks and the elimination of a loophole where private sellers without a federal license are not required to conduct background checks.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Apr. 12 that showed 94.5 percent of Virginia voters, including 90.8 percent among Republicans, support requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Delaney said. “This is a public safety issue, and it’s time to elect delegates who will put people before politics.”