County Level Races Starting to Take Shape for 2019

john cookWe’re continuing to see new developments in local races as John Cook has announced that he won’t seek another term representing the Braddock District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Cook was first elected back in 2009 in a special election to fill Sharon Bulova’s seat after she was elected Chair and is one of only two Republicans currently on the 10 member board (Pat Herrity is the other one).

The announcement comes only a few days after James Walkinshaw, who currently serves as Rep. Gerry Connolly’s chief of staff, announced he’ll be running for the seat. I’ve known James since I first became involved in politics back in the early 2000’s and, while he’s definitely a strong Democrat, I’ve seen his ability to reach across party lines when it’s necessary to build coalitions. I therefore wasn’t surprised at all when he quickly thanked Cook for his service.

“I want to thank John Cook for his dedicated service to our community,” James said in a tweet. “As I have said to him myself, I know he is a fundamentally decent person who cares about our community. He’s devoted many late nights and long hours to this job, and I have tremendous respect for that.”

Assuming Walkinshaw wins the Democratic nomination (and I believe that’s a safe bet as a lot of prominent elected officials and Democratic activists in Fairfax are already announcing their support), recent election results suggest he has a good chance of flipping the seat to Democratic hands. Sen. Tim Kaine won the district with 70 percent of the vote and Gerry Connolly won with 68 percent during the midterm elections earlier this month. That being said, he might not be the only knew voice on the Board after next November.

The Washington Post’s reporting that Sharon Bulova will be using the Thanksgiving holiday to sit down with her family and discuss whether or not she’ll seek a third term as Chair. She’s been on the Board since 1988 and chair since 2009, so this would be a huge change. It could also lead to even more developments as Supervisor Jeff McKay is likely to run for Chair if Bulova doesn’t. Bulova’s made it clear she’d endorse him if she doesn’t run and McKay has said “it’s very likely [he’ll] be making an announcement shortly after” Bulova announces a decision about her reelection.

The Springfield District is also a race that’s also being watched very closely. Pat Herrity is facing a challenge from Democrat Linda Sperling (interestingly, both of them live in the neighborhood I grew up in — Little Rocky Run, which is literally right across the street from Centreville High School). I first met Pat when he was visiting friends of his who lived next door to me and have always liked him as a person, but his politics aren’t a great fit for the district anymore. This race will come down to whether or not the personal connections he’s made with the community are enough to overcome Linda Sperling being great on the issues. It’ll be even more difficult when you consider she also already has a great network of supporters and relationships with the community.

What this all means is John Cook’s retirement probably won’t be the only change seen on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. And with candidates like Kenny Boddhe running for a seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and Tia Walbridge running in Loudoun, we could see some big changes in other Northern Virginia counties as well.

About Bryan J. Scrafford

Bryan Scrafford is a community organizer based in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Since first becoming involved in Virginia politics during his college days at George Mason University, Scrafford has been a fierce advocate for LGBT equality, economic justice, and other progressive causes. He's involved in several community organizations, including being the state director for Americans for Democratic Action.
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