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Incumbent Democratic Delegate Rip Sullivan was elected to the House of Delegates in a special election in 2014. He is an attorney who graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as the President of Legal Services of Northern Virginia, which helps low-income people access legal services in the region. Delegate Sullivan and his wife, Beth, have 4 children and recently welcomed their first grandchild.
As a Delegate, Sullivan has supported increased funding for education, transportation, and affordable health care access. He is an advocate for equality by backing the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive rights. He opposes discrimination against the LGBTQ community and believes in fair housing.
Delegate Sullivan is running unopposed and is the progressive choice in this race.
A graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Christian Dorsey has been a resident of Arlington since 1993 and is married with two children. Dorsey is the Director of External and Government Affairs at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C. Dorsey is a frequent commentator on cable news networks having appeared on CNN, CNBC and Fox.
Dorsey was elected to the Board in 2015 and is the current Board Chair. Dorsey believes that the best way to tackle housing affordability in Arlington is by increasing housing stock. He is focused on fixing the county’s budget problems by examining what changes need to be made to the county’s property tax rate. As a member of the Metro Board, Dorsey wants to look at innovative ways to encourage ridership on the Metro system. He also wants to study structural inequalities in county policies so that more tools can be developed to bring more equity to Arlington. Finally, Dorsey supports changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway.
Incumbent candidates Dorsey and Cristol are being challenged by independents Arron O’Dell and Audrey Clement. O’Dell is focusing his campaign on housing affordability in the county while Clement wants to address school overcrowding and the lack of green space in Arlington.
Dorsey is the progressive choice for the Arlington Board due to his demonstrated track record and commitment to affordable housing.
Katie Cristol is a community advocate and public policy professional. She was elected to the Board in November 2015 and served as Chair of the County Board in 2018. Cristol is the co-Chair of Arlington’s Project PEACE, an interagency collaboration to address domestic and sexual violence in our community. Cristol has been an advocate for women’s issues, including reproductive health, political representation and support for survivors of sexual assault.
Cristol is prioritizing economic development in her campaign and wants to ensure Amazon is taxed adequately to restore Arlington’s tax base while protecting housing affordability in the county as Amazon moves in. Cristol plans to combat climate change by increasing public transit options in the county, restore Metro’s reliability, premium bus service on Columbia Pike, and new transit opportunities for Lee Highway. She wants to improve education in county by building more schools and supporting student ridership on the county’s public bus system. Cristol wants to make childcare more affordable in the county and support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She also vows to continue making inclusion, economic justice and racial equity a priority.
Cristol is the progressive choice for the Arlington Board due to her demonstrated track record and commitment to affordable housing.
Parisa Dehghani-Taft immigrated to the United States as a child with her parents. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained a B.A. in Philosophy and Comparative Literature, and the New York University School of Law, where she obtained a Juris Doctorate. She has lived in Arlington for 12 years with her husband, a civil rights lawyer and law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and two children. Dehghani-Taft is a member of the Arlington branch of the NAACP and serves on its Criminal Justice Committee.
Dehghani-Taft wants to use her office to fight mass incarceration in Arlington by reforming the cash bail system, creating diversion programs that prioritize treatment over jail for offenders suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems. She wants to make the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney more transparent and accountable to the Arlington community. Dehghani-Taft supports the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. She also wants to lobby for criminal justice reform in the state legislature and focus on prosecuting serious crimes while supporting victims and their families.
Dehghani-Taft is running unopposed and is the progressive choice in this race.
Jeffrey McKay is a Fairfax County native and currently lives in Lee District with his family. Morris Glen, an affordable senior housing complex in McKay’s district, is named after his grandmother. She was a well-known advocate in the area, and McKay cites her as the inspiration for his life in advocacy. McKay received his undergraduate degree in Public Administration from James Madison University, and is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Previously, McKay served as Supervisor Dana Kauffman’s Chief of Staff. After over ten years of working with Kauffman, he was elected Lee District Supervisor in November 2007.
He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Legislative Committees. McKay is working to increase transit options through his membership as Chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC). McKay states that his goals include creating inclusion through social and racial equity, including supporting and advocating for his residents against the discriminatory policies of the current administration. McKay supports the policies One Fairfax, an initiative to foster inclusivity and equity throughout the county.
During his time as Budget Chairman, McKay passed a budget to fully fund schools in the area. He aims to continue to make education a priority by increasing teacher pay and expanding equitable programming to all students and districts. He supports clean energy, and if elected will remove barriers to solar power and push forward initiatives to lower the county’s carbon footprint. McKay wants to improve the lives of residents by increasing public transportation and access to affordable housing and healthcare. He also believes in common sense gun violence prevention laws and wants to foster community between the police force and the residents.
McKay’s opponent is Republican Joe Galdo. He ran for Congress in 2014 as a Green Party candidate. He wants to “make Fairfax great again.” While he supports green initiatives, Galdo wants to increase funding for law enforcement as opposed to implementing more equitable practices. He alsos supports collaboration with ICE. Galdo’s website uses pejorative language referring to “illegal” immigrants and urges local police to enforce detainers issued by ICE. This would allow police departments to hold people past their release date so ICE can determine what their next move is, which can lead to deportation.
McKay is the more progressive choice for this race.
Democrat Steve Descano has lived in Fairfax with his family for the past 8 years. He is a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot. After his time in the military, Descano attended Temple University’s law school. During the Obama Administration, he was recruited through the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the United States Department of Justice, and spent the next six years as a federal prosecutor. In 2016, became the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at Paragon Autism Services. His role is to provide behavioral therapy to children who currently lack access to services.
Descano previously served on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Fairfax County NAACP Criminal Justice Committee. He is currently a member of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.
As Commonwealth’s Attorney, Descano will center community, justice, and equality. He wants to eliminate the cash bail system, which has proven to be an unjust process that incarcerates lower income residents who have not been convicted of a crime. Descano recognizes the economic and racial disparities in the criminal justice system and is committed as Commonwealth’s Attorney to ensuring his office treats everyone equally. Descano wants to end mass incarceration and the War on Drugs.
Descano wants to focus on serious crime and healing of families. If elected, he plans to save the commonwealth money by not spending resources on low level crime and lessening the usage of the death penalty. Descano supports our immigrant communities, and does not believe in tearing families apart. His platform supports transparency and communication between the justice system and residents to foster trust.
Descano’s opponent is Jonathon Fahey, a former federal prosecutor under the Trump Administration. Fahey does not support criminal justice reforms. His major concerns are the opioid crisis and gang violence.
Descano is the more progressive choice for Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Abrar Omeish is a second generation student of Fairfax public schools. She co-founded GIVE (Growth And Inspiration Through Volunteering And Education), a youth-led non-profit that has been providing free tutoring and mentorship for over 10 years. She chairs the Student Human Rights Commission and is the appointed co-chair of the School Board Advisory Committees. She is President of the county-led Fairfax County Public School Superintendent’s Advisory Council. Omeish amended county policy on bullying with a 12-step plan entitled "Bring It On". She has experience with youth in political fields, including founding the Robinson High School Young Democrats.
Omeish’s first priority is equity in education. She wants to implement programs to close achievement gaps within schools to ensure students have equal opportunity to succeed. Because mental health is another priority, Omeish wants to incentivize anti-bullying procedure and plans within Student Government and Student Council Alliances. She wants to ensure that teachers are treated well, and this concern traverses equitable hiring practices to adequate salaries.
Omeish is a progressive choice for this race.
Karen Keys-Gamarra has lived in Fairfax County since 1990. She received an undergraduate degree from Tulane University and a J.D. from Washington University School of Law. She currently resides in Fairfax with her family, and is a child advocate and attorney.
Keys-Gamarra has been on the school board since September 2017. During her time as a Board member, she supported the One Fairfax policy to address equity and access concerns within Fairfax public schools. Currently, Keys-Gamarra serves on the Governance and Audit Committees, the Community Criminal Justice Board, and the Title I Parent Advisory Committee.
During her time on the School Board, she has fought for equity by seconding the motion to rename Justice High School and aided in creating local policy to choose appropriate names for county schools. She has focused on continuing efforts to improve our discipline process by trying to eliminate disparities and improve restorative efforts to keep students in school.
She was able to adopt a budget that provided improved salaries for our educators. Keys-Gamarra also presented a motion to support menstrual equity, and support efforts to improve the way Fairfax residents care for the environment.
Keys-Gamarra is a progressive choice for this race.
A first-generation American, candidate Rachna Seizmore Heizer received her law degree and Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley. Her advocacy for students stems from her children. Heizer advocated for her daughter to enroll in advanced classes regardless of her mental health, and for her son to enroll in music classes in tandem with his special needs classes.
She previously taught Constitutional and Criminal Law at George Mason University. Currently Heizer is the Coordinator of Online Human Resource Development Curriculum and Instruction and teaches Employment Law, Leadership, Staffing Strategies, Human Relations, and Diversity and Cultural Competency online at Texas Tech University. Heizer was appointed to the board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and the Fairfax County Public School Board’s Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities. She is also a board member of the Fairfax County Alliance for Human Services, the Fairfax County Special Education PTA, and the Fairfax County Public School’s Inclusion Workgroup.
Heizer’s platform is centered on equity and inclusion. She wants to close achievement gaps and ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of who they are or what their interest is. Heizer wants to ensure that teachers have the proper training to support their students so their differences are not seen as limitations or issues. She is concerned about student safety, both mentally and physically. She wants to implement holistic approaches to teaching and supporting, in addition to increasing mental and behavioral health services. Heizer also wants to limit the use of student restraint for extreme cases. If elected, Heizer plans to implement green initiatives and a program that will increase student civic engagement. Heizer has been endorsed by Casa in Action.
Heizer is a progressive choice for this race.
Cheryl Buford previously worked at the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance. This Alliance is known for urging President Obama to allow discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community on the basis of religious freedom. Buford has been endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee.
Priscilla DeStefano is a first generation American and attended Fairfax County Public Schools. DeStefano disagrees with school board actions to rename schools named after Confederate figures, calling these efforts “partisan politics.”DeStefano has been endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee.
Vinson Xavier Palathingal is a resident of McLean, Virginia. He resides there with his wife and two children, both products of University of Virginia. He is originally from Kochi in Kerala State, India, but has lived in the US for 27 years. He has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in engineering. This informs his desire to increase STEM program funding for public schools. Palathingal self-identifies as a conservative, and has criticized the school board for implementing a comprehensive sex ed curriculum while establishing protections for transgender students. Palathingal’s solution for racial disparities in student achievement is school privatization. Palathingal has been endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee.
IIryong Moon is a current member of the Fairfax School Board. He graduated from T.C. Williams Senior High School and later earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, and a J.D. from College of William and Mary. Moon cites the expanding of kindergarten to a full day as a top accomplishment.
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