As a further ramp up to a busy campaign season, most Loudoun voters on Tuesday will be asked to head to the polls to decide the final spots on November’s ballot.
Democrats will see most of the action in the primary voting, but Republicans won’t be left on the sidelines, as two sitting county supervisors battle for a chance to fill the seat of retiring state Senator Dick Black in the 13th District.
Three Democratic incumbents face intra-party challenges and four Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination to fill the 87th House District seat after two-term incumbent John Bell opted to make a Senate run. Additionally, Democrats countywide will choose between two candidates in their attempt to win the county sheriff’s race for the first time in three decades.
Efforts to enact new gun controls and to protect pro-choice rights have been touted by the Democratic candidates seeking the nomination for General Assembly seats, particularly after several state legislatures moved to restrict or eliminate abortions and after Friday’s mass shooting at a Virginia Beach civic building.
In the state Senate, Barbara A. Favola (D), of Arlington, has represented the 31st District since 2011. She is being challenged by Arlington civic activist Niccole Merlene. The district stretches from the Pentagon to Lowes Island, with only a few voting precincts in Loudoun. As of June 4, there were no other candidates for the seat, meaning the primary outcome could decide the race. The deadline for a challenger to file is June 11 at 7 p.m.
In the 33rd Senate District, Jennifer Boysko (D), a Herndon resident who served three years in the House of Delegates, was elected to the seat in January after incumbent Jennifer Wexton was elected to Congress. She is challenged by Sharafat Hussain, a newspaper publisher and party activist from Leesburg. The district covers most of eastern Loudoun and stretches into Leesburg, covering the northern side of Rt. 7 in between. The winner will face Suzanne Fox, a Leesburg Town Council member, who is the Republican nominee.
The other contested nomination for a state Senate seat is on the Republican side. The prospect of replacing Black in the 13th district—one of only three Loudoun General Assembly seats still held by GOP representatives—prompted two supervisors to give up their seats on the county board to pursue opportunities in Richmond. Geary Higgins, of Waterford, has represented the Catoctin District since 2011 and previously served on the county School Board. Ron Meyer was elected to represent the Broad Run District in 2015. The winner will face Democratic nominee John Bell and Jasmine Moawad-Barrientos, running as an Independent candidate, in November.
At the local level, Democrats countywide will be asked to choose their nominee for county sheriff. The race features Chris Harmison, a 40-year law enforcement veteran, and Justin Hannah, a defense department contractor who pulled out of the crowded 87th House District race in March to pursue the local office. The winner will face two-term incumbent Mike Chapman, the Republican nominee.
Finally, first-term incumbent Supervisor Koran Saines, the first Democrat to win the Sterling District seat on the Board of Supervisors in 16 years, faces a primary challenge from attorney Ibrahim Moiz.
How to Vote
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 11. Voters will cast ballots at their normal polling precinct location. A list of polling places in Loudoun is available at loudoun.gov/polls.
Voters will be required to show a photo ID, such as a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a student photo ID from a Virginia college or university, or a government-issued photo ID.
In precincts holding both Democratic and Republican primaries, voters will be asked to choose one party’s ballot.
Also, election officials caution that voters may experience delays on Tuesday morning in the areas around John Champe, Riverside, and Tuscarora High Schools because of graduation ceremonies
More information about the June 11, 2019 election is online at loudoun.gov/JunePrimary.
13th State Senate District (Republicans)
Geary M. Higgins
Occupation: Vice President of Labor Relations, National Electrical Contractors Association
Campaign website: facebook.com/geary4senate
All candidates agree transportation is a major issue in the 13th District, and for Higgins that
means getting more money back from the state government. He points to the recent Smart Scale results, for which Northern Virginia, and the 13th District in particular, received very little, especially compared to how much the area contributes to state tax rolls—“particularly given the fact that [the Smart Scale formula] is supposed to be dealing with congestion, and if you can find a more congested place than up here, that’s going to be pretty amazing.” To that end, he said, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
One of his first actions in Richmond, Higgins said, would be to address sex trafficking in the region.
Higgins said he’s the person for the job based on his experience so far bringing to life long-term projects like a new state park in northwestern Loudoun, which his office championed across his two terms on the Board of Supervisors, saying “people that have worked with me know that I’m good for my word, I do what I say I’m going to do. When I start a project, is stick with it.”
Higgins has the endorsement of the incumbent, Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13), but avoids confronting questions about Black’s controversial record, such as supporting Syrian president and accused war criminal Bashar al-Assad, who, it has been reported, used chemical weapons on civilians, stopped or attacked humanitarian aid convoys, and tortured prisoners. Higgins said, “it’s not something that concerns me in state or local government.”
“The man was elected in that seat twice, so there’s a lot of people that think he did a pretty good job apparently, so I’m going to be Geary Higgins and he was Dick Black, and hopefully those people that trusted him will trust me,” Higgins said.
Ron A. Meyer Jr.
Neighborhood: One Loudoun
Occupation: Director of Business Development, MediaDC
Campaign website: ronmeyer.com
The youngest member ever elected to the county Board of Supervisors four years ago, Meyer said, “the question comes down to who’s going to get more done on the issues that impact everyone in Northern Virginia, and that’s transportation and tolls.”
He takes credit for accelerating the county’s plans to build Shellhorn Road, an alternative to
the expensive Dulles Greenway toll road. “My first year in office, we got it in the budget, and this year it’s under construction, and so we’re delivering on our promise, and I’ll continue to deliver on the promise,” he said.
And he said once again, he is running on very specific proposals. In the state senate, he said, that would include a bill to bring down tolls on the Greenway, create more Greenway alternatives, a parallel to Rt. 50, and a bill to cap tolls on I-66 at $9. He also said his general election campaign would mirror his primary campaign: “How many candidates do you know who can say that?”
He now has no problem confronting the incumbent’s record, and said, “we need a Republican party that’s inclusive … that actually sticks to our principles, that wouldn’t be embracing dictators who are murdering children.”
“I think we should have a party that’s focused on trying instead for all of our constituents, not just sliver of the sliver of the base,” Meyer said.
33rd Senate District (Democrats)
Name: Jennifer Boysko
Neighborhood: Herndon, 23 years
Occupation: full-time state senator
Campaign website: jenniferboysko.com
State Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33) was elected to Virginia’s 33rd District Senate seat with a win over Republican Joe T. May in a January special election, following Jennifer Wexton’s November election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Boysko said she’s been dedicated to public service for decades and that she has a “broad point
of view” with a “depth of experience,” having formerly worked as an aide to Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust. From 2016 to 2019, she also represented Virginia’s 86th House District.
Boysko said she supports a woman’s right to make personal decisions for herself and is focused on bolstering economic opportunity for all residents by providing them with livable wages, a functional transportation system and a “strong education.” “I want to make sure that our education system is at the top of the list,” she said.
Boysko said she’s also focused on housing affordability and making it possible for young adults to return to Northern Virginia to live after graduating from college.
Given the recent shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead, Boysko said she supports “common sense” gun safety legislation, noting that she has been part of gun violence prevention caucuses in the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate.
She said that what separates her from other candidates is her drive to interact with residents. She said she’s already visited every corner of the 33rd Senate District. “There’s no one who’s going to outwork me—I’m proud of my record,” she said.
Name: Sharafat Hussain
Neighborhood: Leesburg, 12 years
Occupation: Chairman and editor of the Weekly Bangladeshee, a newspaper catered to the region’s Bangladeshi-American community
Campaign website: sharafathussainva.com
Sharafat Hussain said he has an advantage in the primary because he’s lived in Loudoun for nearly two decades and better understands residents’ needs and desires. He said that makes a difference because Loudoun makes up the vast majority of Virginia’s 33rd Senate District.
Hussain is the vice chairman of the Leesburg District Democrats and formerly acted as the Loudoun County Democratic Committee’s fundraising chairman. He said it was through his leadership with the countywide committee in 2018 that it was able to raise the most money it ever has at its annual gala—$90,000.
Hussain referred to himself as a “progressive campaigner,” noting that he won’t attack his opponents on the campaign trail. He said that, if elected, he would focus on increased IT education in county schools, women’s rights, clean energy initiatives and improvements to the region’s transportation system.
“I love Loudoun and I’ve made Loudoun proud,” he said. “I am not a talker, I am a doer—I know how to lead.”
Hussain said he’s also interested in looking to review and possibly amend Virginia’s Senate and House districts, as they often stretch too far and encompass multiple communities that are much different than one another. Specifically, he said the 33rd Senate District needs reworking because it stretches from Leesburg and Brambleton in Loudoun to Fairfax County’s Herndon and Chantilly.
87th House District (Democrats)
Hassan Ahmad said his desire to run for elected office began with the controversial travel ban that went into effect in early 2017. He volunteered as an attorney to help travelers at Dulles Airport the first night of the ban. He said that witnessing the breakdown of law and
order prompted him to become more of an advocate. When John Bell announced he was leaving his seat, Ahmad decided to run. The major parts of his platform are criminal justice reform, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and education. As far as criminal justice reform, he wants to expand drug courts, and invest in community policing to reduce racial disparity and arrests. He wants to end the school-to-prison pipeline and make sure there is a pathway of redemption once prison sentences are served. He said incarceration needs to be rehabilitative and not wholly punitive. Resources should be diverted from detention and deportation, and funneled back to education, he said. He’s an advocate for investment in early childhood education. Ahmad also wants to make sure that companies pay their fair share of investing in the communities they move into. Education is not a cost, it’s not a line item, it’s an investment, he said. Ratifying the ERA is also a top legislative priority. “We need to ensure voices are uplifted and heard,” he said.
Neighborhood: South Riding
One of the driving forces behind Bhamidipati’s desire to run for election is the high rate of teen suicide in Loudoun County and Virginia as a whole. Four people kill themselves every day and another four die from overdoses, he said. Instituting adequate and accessible mental
health services in schools can go a long way in combating teen depression, anxiety, and addiction, he believes. After going door-to-door to meet with voters, his platform has greatly expanded. Healthcare is a big part of it. The number one thing he wants to do if elected is expand Medicare and Medicaid, and tackle it from more than an expansion of service standpoint to reduction of cost. He said bringing a new hospital system into Loudoun or Prince William could increase competition, reduce costs, generate employment at all levels, and help diversify the economy, promoting growth in the biotech sector. Traffic congestion is another important issue for him, and he wants to focus on the innovative solutions to traffic. Instituting a smart city where all the lights are connected to a grid and putting an artificial intelligence system in place that calculates the optimal timing for each light can help ease congestion, he said. On gun control, Bhamidipati wants criminal background checks and safety training to be required when purchasing firearms. He also wants to restrict online gun sales and ban bump stocks. Bhamidipati supports ratifying the ERA and wants to make sure the rights of women in Virginia are safeguarded.
Neighborhood: Sterling Park
Occupation: Human rights lawyer
The impetus for Gusman entering the race dealt with the politics of early 2019. She said she was disheartened by the General Assembly not ratifying the ERA, as well as the scandal that plagued the executive branch in Richmond. She was in the Emerge Virginia class at the
time and decided that with an open seat in her district and no woman running it was time for her to begin her political career. She wants to be a part of the historic legislature that ratifies the ERA. What comes with that, she said, is making sure that reproductive rights are safeguarded and that a woman’s right to choose continues. She has been outspoken on climate change issues. She said all politicians need to address the concerns with urgency. Gusman also wants policymaking to be decoupled from power companies like Dominion and Appalachian Power. She has signed a pledge to not take any money from power companies or developers. Gusman wants to pass gun safety legislation in Virginia. She points to her trademark jean jacket as a way to show people she’s here to represent them and progressive issues. In her mind, she said, they’re bipartisan issues, about progress.
Occupation: Attorney, small business owner, volunteer firefighter
Subramanyam points to his time in the Obama White House where he saw firsthand that state-level policymakers have a lot of power and can do a lot of great things for the community. With redistricting approaching, he wants to make sure there are good people,
especially good Democrats, willing to take a stand and to right the ship in the political system and he said that should start this year. Infrastructure is a key issue for him. In Loudoun County, the infrastructure seems to always be behind the development, he said. He wants to make sure Loudoun receives funding for infrastructure and road projects. We need to make sure when we build we have the infrastructure in place first and we’re building sustainably, he said. Subramanyam wants to fully fund schools and ensure teachers get paid what they’re worth. Great teachers need to be recruited and retained, he said. He points to the School Board’s recent decision to lower the number of students being sent to Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax as a symptom of not putting enough attention and funding into schools. To continue to make Loudoun an attractive place to raise a family implies having great schools and access to great jobs, he said. He also wants “common sense” gun reforms and said legislators at the state level can make a huge difference. There’s a problem and we’re seeing it all the time, he said.
County Sheriff (Democrats)
Occupation: Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office
Campaign website: harmisonforsheriff.com
Harmison is no stranger to the Sheriff’s Office, having once been second in command to incumbent Sheriff Mike Chapman. But he has since joined the growing number of former senior officers under Chapman who are now speaking out against the sheriff and has the
endorsement of more than 20 law enforcement veterans with collectively more than five centuries of experience. He said he would like to see a new management style in the Sheriff’s Office and said he could make that happen with his 40 years of law enforcement experience.
“The first thing is to have true accountability and true transparency,” Harmison said. “I think government doesn’t work without those.” To that end, he has proposed publishing the office’s General Orders and creating up a citizens’ advisory committee to give feedback to the office.
Harmison has also said he is open to discussions of creating a county police department, and said he wants to position the department to deal with Loudoun’s growth: “I think the diversity of the county is changing, I think we need to be responsive to that, and I don’t think the incumbent has done a good job of that, so it’s really about new command staff, new ideas, and new leadership.”
Occupation: Department of Defense contractor
Campaign website: justinhannah.com
One of the youngest people seeking elected office this year, Hannah said he wants to plan for the future, especially growth in the Sheriff’s Office as the county grows. And he said he would like to see better drug education, replacing the longstanding D.A.R.E. program in the
schools. He would also like to get buy-in from the community and other public safety officials, in part by gathering other public safety officials together regularly: “I’m an advocate for my agency, of course, but we need to be advocates for public safety, because a safer Loudoun is our goal.”
He would also like to hold public town halls, and also is open to the idea of county police department: “Whatever is the best for the county that promotes safety, I think that’s what we should go toward. If that means that I lose portions of my job to make the county safer … then I think that’s a job well done.”
And despite his young age, Hannah said he already has “a proven track record of getting results,” joining the military at 18 and steadily gaining responsibilities, including command and administrative jobs, a $78 million budget, and a mobile law enforcement unit.
“They said ‘you’re doing good,’ so they kept giving me more and more to do,” Hannah said.
Sterling District (Democrats)
Koran T. Saines
Neighborhood: Chatham Green
Occupation: Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, WGL
Campaign website: koransaines.com
The incumbent said, “when I won in 2015, I turned around 16 years of bad policy and I have a record of fighting for Sterling.” And he said as Sterling District supervisor, “I’ve fought
for Sterling’s priorities—transportation, education, health care, jobs and smart and sustainable development.” Saines said he has fought for school funding, improvements on Sterling roads, and a W&OD bridge over Sterling Boulevard, and said he would like to improve the walkability of Sterling neighborhoods. He also pointed to his office’s partnership with Enroll Virginia to support enrollment in the Affordable Care Act and work to organize annual jobs fairs.
“We’ve come a long way, and I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished together,” Saines said. “But we still have more we have to do.”
Neighborhood: Great Falls Chase
Occupation: Partner, NOVA Business Law Group LLP
Campaign website: moizforloudoun.com
Moiz came to Loudoun after growing up in an area that once was similarly affluent, and said he’s learned the lessons of that place. Growing up in Flint, MI, he said if anyone had told
people in Flint and Detroit during their boom years that one day their auto industry would collapse and they would have water unsafe to drink, they would have been laughed at—and he gets a similar reaction today when he talks about the data center industry shrinking in Loudoun.
He said Loudoun needs to plan holistically for sustainable, smart growth into the future: “I strongly believe that our legacies as people are defined by what we do for the next generation, and we have to leave them a healthy environment, we have to leave them a healthy economy.” And he said his training as a business attorney helps him see the threats to that growth, and he would like to be more proactive about meeting with developers before their proposals turn into a choice between “the lesser of two evils.”
“It’s asking the difficult questions, it’s thinking outside the box,” he said, contrasting that to waiting “for someone to come and complain about something, you slap a band-aid on it, and you leave.”
“I don’t think the state government does that, I don’t think the federal government does that,” Moiz said. “It’s the local county government where we can make that happen.”