Since Virginia holds its state and local elections in odd numbered years, volunteers and those of us who work in politics are constantly having to turn around and look towards the next election. There’s simply no rest for the weary. This year it’s an even faster turnaround for Loudoun County (and parts of Fairfax) as there will be a special election to fill Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton’s seat in the state senate.
While the general election likely won’t be until some time in January, there will be a firehouse primary on November 17 to determine the Democratic nominee and the candidates spoke at last night’s Loudoun County Democratic Committee’s meeting in Ashburn. Each candidate gave a three minute opening statement before there was a round of questions from members of the committee lasting about 30 minutes. Generally speaking, the three declared candidates received a warm reception but it quickly became clear that it would come down to two candidates — Charlotte McConnell (an activist from Sterling) and Jennifer Boysko (a member of the House of Delegates who lives in Herndon).
Both Charlotte and Boysko sent out press releases announcing their candidacy the day after Wexton was elected to Congress, but it’s been known for months that they’d both be running (Sharaft Hussain tried to attack them for this last night by claiming they got in the race too late, but that fell flat and got a visibly negative reaction from Boysko). I have been supporting Charlotte since it first became clear she was running for the seat and the last few days have only further illustrated why I believe she’s the right candidate.
I first met Charlotte through her efforts to include LGBT status in the non-discrimination policy for Loudoun County Public Schools. The School Board has previously voted against adding protections for the LGBT community, but Charlotte has made it clear this is the wrong move and isn’t one Loudoun residents will accept. She’s been speaking before the school board every month, holding meetings with individual School Board meetings, and recruiting other volunteers to help speak out on the issue. While there’s still work to do, her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as School Board candidates are now having to address the issue and even the Loudoun County Education Association has officially recognized her for being a tireless advocate.
Over the years, she’s also be fighting to protect the environment and is a member of organizations like Mom’s Demand Action and Planned Parenthood. Plus, she works as an end of life doula and her personal experience has helped motivate her to fight for affordable healthcare that everyone can access.
This might be a little too much inside politics, but I also like that she’s taken a strong stance on the need to change the political system here in Virginia. As she pointed out at last night’s LCDC meeting, we should end having odd year elections because they’re a way of pushing voter suppression. All you have to do is look at Tuesday’s turnout to realize this is true. There were tons of media reports about how this year had historic turnout for a midterm election, after all, but it was still less than 2016. Now imagine what happens in off, off year elections. And if the lack of involvement in state and local elections isn’t enough reason to change the system, the cost of constantly running elections could help show why we need the change.
Since we shouldn’t have large corporations and the uber wealthy having too much political power, Charlotte has also advocated for campaign finance reform. She’s also not simply waiting around for legislation on the issue as she’s taken the Activate Virginia pledge and won’t take campaign donations from corporations like Dominion Energy or their PACs. This is in direct contrast to Jennifer Boysko who spent a bunch of time at last night’s LCDC meeting bragging about her fundraising even though that includes tens of thousands of dollars from companies like Dominion Energy, Apex CoVantage, Herndon Centre, and the Sterling Management Group.
It’s also worth noting that this is a safe Democratic district and should be represented by a progressive leader. Only two precincts have voted Republican in each of the last four elections and no Republican statewide candidate has won the district since Bob McDonnell was elected governor. There have been 10 statewide campaigns since then (including two presidential campaigns) and no statewide Democratic candidate has received less than 55% of the vote.
Finally, with people like Jennifer Wexton and Mark Herring having held this seat, it’s also traditionally represented by someone from Loudoun County. This makes sense because almost 75% of the district’s voters are in Loudoun and deserve to be represented by someone from their community (just like how Boysko’s current district deserves to be represented by someone in Fairfax County).
Given Charlotte McConnell’s history of fighting for progressive causes in Loudoun County and her belief that government should be beholden to the people instead of corporations, she would make an excellent state senator. I therefore strongly encourage voters in the 33rd Senate District to support her campaign.