Juli Briskman, who landed in the national spotlight for flipping off President Donald J. Trump’s motorcade—and subsequently losing her job over it—has set her sights on a different elected Republican: Loudoun Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian).
After a photo of Briskman riding a bike and raising her middle finger to Trump’s motorcade went viral last October, she lost her job at federal contractor Akima for allegedly violating the company’s social media policy. She sued and won severance, but her wrongful termination lawsuit was dismissed.
“I’ve come to realize that the court system is a very slow way to effect change, and since my incident I’ve begun talking to a lot of the community, with the Democrats in the community, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback and support for the idea,” Briskman said. “Then I realized I really have a better chance of effecting change if I’m sitting on the local Board of Supervisors.”
Briskman pointed out that Volpe is part of the Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors in a county that has come to consistently vote Democrat at the state and federal levels. In Congress, Loudoun mostly recently voted narrowly for Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10)’s Democratic opponent, but Comstock, whose district extends from McLean to Winchester, handily won reelection.
“I just feel it’s time for change,” Briskman said. “I mean Loudoun County went for [former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary] Clinton, Loudoun County went to for [Democratic Governor Ralph] Northam, so why are we sitting here with a board that’s 6-3 Republican and doesn’t seem to match the values of the residents of the county?”
County supervisors are elected to four-year terms in what are known as off-off-cycle years, meaning they are not elected in the same year as a presidential or midterm federal election. Those elections tend to see lower voter turnout. Supervisors will next face an election in November 2019.
Although she is best known for expressing her views on Trump, she said she plans to run a race focused on local issues.
“I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle that I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, I’ve got my kids in the public schools, I’ve worked hard in volunteer capacities for the schools, for our local swim team,” Briskman said. She said she has “deep, deep roots in Loudoun County, and I know the campaign will be local, the issues are local, and that’s what we need to talk about.”
“I worry about not fully funding the schools, I worry about this exponential growth that we’re having with I’m not sure the smartest planning going on, and I’m a little bit worried about transparency in government, and I just think that the board should reflect the values and the residents of Loudoun County,” Briskman said. “And the residents of Loudoun County in the last two major elections have gone blue, and I think it’s time that we govern by those values.”
She specifically targeted Volpe’s successful motion during the last budget cycle to cut the county budget by $14.9 million, almost all of which was born by the school system. Briskman said she was “appalled,” and she would have been happy to pay an extra half-cent real estate tax rate—the cut Volpe proposed—to fully fund the school system.
“I don’t want that to be a blanket statement that Juli Briskman wants to raise taxes, but I’m sitting here personally thinking, as a parent of two Loudoun County students, I’m happy to pay a $1.09 [per $100 of assessed value] rather than $1.85.”
Supervisors voted along party lines for the cut, 6-3.
She also expressed dissatisfaction with the board’s handling of an Environmental Protection Agency superfund site in the district, the Hidden Lane landfill.
And she said losing her last job over politics has not made her any more shy about expressing herself.
“Actually, we just started protesting over at the Trump golf course when he’s here, because I feel like he shouldn’t come into my neighborhood without seeing some kind of resistance, so no, it has not made me more shy,” Briskman said. “I am in a position now where my organization supports my views.”
Briskman is the chief marketing officer for UPIC Health. In a press release announcing her hire, the company specifically cites the incident with Akia, writing Briskamn “stated that she wanted to work with a company where the corporate culture aligns with her values.”
“We are that place,” stated CEO Mary Tucker at the time. “We couldn’t be happier with Juli’s decision to join UPIC and her presence already has added tremendous value to our organization.”
Briskman started her career as a journalist at the Winchester Star. She has since worked in marketing and public relations including at U.S. Embassies in former member countries of the Soviet Union.