By Progress Virginia
Not in Senate District 036? Click here to choose your customized guide.
Senator Scott A. Surovell has represented parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford Counties since 2015. Prior to his time in the Senate, Surovell served six years in the House of Delegates. Surovell lives in Mt. Vernon with his wife and four children. He practices law and has dedicated his legislative career to fighting for Northern Virginia’s fair share, protecting consumers, and preserving our environment for future generations.
He supported legislation that would require background checks for all firearms transfers, prohibit the sale and ownership of assault weapons, reinstate Virginia’s “one-gun-a-month” law and prohibit concealed carry in restaurants, while consuming or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Senator Surovell also sponsored a bill that would establish a paid family and medical leave program. He voted to expand Medicaid in Virginia to 400,000 individuals and to raise the commonwealth’s minimum wage.
Senator Surovell is running unopposed and is the progressive choice.
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.
Democratic candidate Ann Wheeler moved to Haymarket in 2001. She has served on several boards, including the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative and the Hylton Performing Arts Center. She is also the former Chair of the Prince William Board of Social Services.
As Chairwoman At-Large of the Prince William Board of Supervisors, Wheeler wants to make the county a more welcoming place for immigrants and doesn’t believe local tax dollars should go toward federal immigration enforcement. She supports providing more public transportation options in the county, including expanding the Washington Metro service to the county. She wants to increase funding for public schools and attract more technology companies and other industries to the county to diversify Prince William’s tax base and make it less reliant on property taxes. She also believes the county should have a greater say in regional and state decisions, such as ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
Wheeler is running against Republican John Gray, a candidate who supports Prince William’s 287(g) agreement, which allows the sheriff’s department to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officials. There are also three independent candidates: Muneer Baig, an immigrant rights advocate, Don Scoggins, a former board member of the county’s Republican Party, and Jesse Maggitt, a veteran and corporate executive.
Because of her prioritization of PWC schools, Wheeler is the progressive candidate for the At-Large Chair of the Prince William Board of Supervisors.
A former county prosecutor, Democratic candidate Amy Ashworth received her Juris Doctorate degree from George Mason University in 1995. She worked as a prosecutor in the Special Victim’s Unit. She lives in Nokesville with her husband and two sons.
If elected, Ashworth wants to reform the Commonwealth Attorney’s office with a new mission statement, new organizational structure, and focus on crimes that do harm, not crimes that put the most people in jail. Recognizing that discrimination in the justice system disproportionately affects people of color, Ashworth is pledging to hire attorneys in the office who represent the diversity of the community and establish a non-discrimination policy for people who work in the office. She is promising to limit the use of cash bail in the county justice system and opposes the death penalty. Ashworth supports the restoration of rights for returning citizens and pledges fair treatment for juvenile offenders.
She also understands that many people with addiction issues and mental health issues are incarcerated and wants to train county police officers to better handle cases involving individuals dealing with mental health and addictions. Ashworth will support efforts to fight payroll fraud, wage theft, and mistreatment of workers. She wants to build better relationships with the county’s immigrant community and supports the decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia. Finally, she wants to end mass incarceration by keeping people out of jails and helping them get an education, rehabilitation, or psychological care.
Ashworth’s opponent, Republican Mike May, is a former County Supervisor for the Occoquan District. He’s a private attorney with his own firm. May is running his platform on keeping neighborhoods safe, modernizing the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to make it more transparent, and engaging the community more with outreach efforts to encourage community involvement.
Because of her plan to overhaul the office, Ashworth is the progressive choice for Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney.
Democratic candidate Joshua King is an Iraq War veteran and Fairfax County Sheriff Deputy. A Dumfries resident, he’s a parent with three children in the Prince William County School System.
As Sheriff of Prince William County, King promises to end the county’s 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which uses local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration law. He wants to focus on school safety where his sheriff deputies will be trained to intervene during school shootings. King plans to reduce the school to prison pipeline in the county by training his deputies to assist and protect children with special needs. He also wants to improve services for veterans by ensuring that all veterans, law enforcement officers, and inmates receive the services that they deserve.
King is challenging incumbent Republican Sheriff Glen Hill, who started Prince William’s participation in the 287(g) program.
Candidate Rhonda Dickson is the first woman to run for the sheriff’s office in Prince William. She wants to increase enrollment in the Child ID program and to increase the Sheriff office’s presence in Prince William schools.
Joshua King is endorsed by our partners SEIU Virginia512 and CASA In Action and is the progressive choice for Sheriff in Prince William County.
Dr. Babur Lateef is originally from Youngstown, Ohio. Dr. Lateef received his Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University and his MD from Northeastern Ohio University’s College of Medicine. Currently, he serves on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors and SPARK Foundation Board and is an active member of his children's Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs). Dr. Lateef was elected School Board Chair in a 2018 special election.
His platform consists of a plan to close the achievement gap, increase test scores, and increase teacher pay for Prince William teachers. He also wants to repair school infrastructure, secure campuses, increase mental health specialists, and provide cultural sensitivity training.
His opponents are Alyson Satterwhite and Stanley Bender, both of whom challenged Dr. LaTeef in the November 2018 special election. During that election, Satterwhite was endorsed by the Prince William County GOP. She is a mother of four who resides in the Gainesville District. She has served as the Gainesville School Board representative since 2015. Satterwhite wants to reduce classroom sizes, improve school safety, and to increase fiscal responsibility and transparency on the school board.
Stanley Bender is a retired Woodbridge resident. Despite the controversy surrounding the 2018 special election over whether Stanley Bender was being supported by local Republicans or not, Mr. Bender is not endorsed by any local committee. Because he does not have a website or social media, we cannot know what he intends to do if elected.
Because of Dr. Lateef’s plan to close the achievement gap, increase test scores, and to increase teacher pay for Prince William teachers, he is the more progressive choice for this race.
Sign Up To Get Future Guides
Progress means voting in every race and every issue. Thank you for your contribution to a more progressive state.