Big spenders on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary


It’s been years since there was a contested primary for the Democratic nomination to be Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman but this year is making up for it. Four candidates have been running a spirited race for the seat and have raised not only a lot of dust but also more than $1.4 million, thought to be a record for that office.



The only incumbent in the race, Jeff McKay, who has represented Lee District on the board since 2007 and worked earlier as chief of staff to Supervisor Dana Kauffmann. He has collected endorsements from retiring chair Sharon Bulova, the Washington Post and other influential figures and organizations.

But real estate developer Tim Chapman has presented a stronger challenge than many had expected and has amassed a campaign war chest just shy of $1 million, as shown in the figures above, supplied by the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).  In fact, three Northern Virginia races are breaking spending records this year, VPAP notes.

What’s all the fuss this year? It’s partly a reflection of the unsettled national political picture and partly the result of the recent scandals involving the three Democrats at the top of Virginia’s political heap. Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Jonathan Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring have all been accused of misconduct involving blackface, Klan robes or, in Fairfax’s case, sexual assault.

The top Democrats’ tarnished reputations have given Republicans new hope that they can stop Virginia’s apparent “fade to blue” and keep Democrats from gaining control of the General Assembly.

Kingdom of Fairfax

Then there’s the little matter of Fairfax County, the largest local jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C., area and the economic engine of Virginia. With Bulova and several other longterm supervisors retiring, control of the powerful board of supervisors is up for grabs.

In a nation where crumbling infrastructure is a problem, Fairfax County has been throwing money at infrastructure and urban development in recent years, using public funds, private partnerships and tax incentives to jumpstart the urbanization of Tysons, expansion of Metro to and beyond Dulles Airport, a network of toll and high-occupancy freeway lanes, and the revitalization of the Merrifield area into the Mosaic District, to name a few.

For that matter, Fairfax Corner — a mixed-used retail, office and residential development — was developed mostly as the result of a complex deal that included construction of the county’s new Government Center a few decades ago.

The current crop of supervisors defend their record, saying they have awakened a sleepy suburban county and turned it into a booming center of economic development, job growth and steadily climbing real estate values. McKay and Chapman would be expected to maintain that policy, no doubt with modifications to suit their individual outlooks.

All the candidates have pledged to work for more public housing, school construction and other

Presenting another side of the story is Alicia Plerhoples, a Georgetown University law professor who argues that Fairfax suffers from severe inequality and pledges to shake things up if elected. She has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women and Phyllis Randall, Loudoun County’s chair at large.

No Republican primary

There is no Republican primary this year. The state GOP will instead choose its candidates through caucuses or some other method.

This does not mean Republicans can’t vote in Tuesday’s election. In Virginia, registered voters can vote in either party’s primary.

There are no declared candidates for the supervisors seats that are up for grabs this year although Joe Galdo has announced he will be a candidate for the chairman’s office in the general election, pledging to reduce spending, get schools “back to basics” and run violent gangs out of the county.

On the ballot

The following offices are on the June 11 ballot:

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman
Board of Supervisors, Braddock District
Board of Supervisors, Hunter Mill District
Board of Supervisors, Lee District
Board of Supervisors, Providence District
Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney
Virginia Senate: 31st, 33rd and 35th Districts
Virginia House of Delegates: 38th and 49th Districts

Election Day voting

Voters must go their regular polling place on election day, June 11. All 243 polling places in the county will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Because some poll locations have changed since the November 2018 general election, voters should confirm their polling place online through the Virginia Department of Elections.

Check your registration

Voters should also confirm they are registered by checking on the Virginia Department of Elections website. To vote in the June 11 primary, the last day to register or update your information is May 20.


About the Author

James R. Hood
James R. Hood is the editor and publisher of A former Associated Press editor and executive, he has more than 50 years of reporting experience.