Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: N-P Endorsements: Salim & Dehgani-Tafti

Early voting for the Democratic Primary this spring begins this Friday, May 5. There are two hotly contested races on the ballot for Falls Church voters. There is the primary race for the 47th State Senate District and that for the Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth Attorney.

As there now is a growing percentage of registered voters who are not waiting for election day (June 20 this case) to cast their ballots and given how seriously Falls Church residents take elections, resulting in routinely the highest voter turnout rate in the state, we’re making our endorsements early this time. So, our endorsements are:

For State Senate District 37 – Saddam Salim (over “Chap” Petersen).

For Commonwealth Attorney – Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (over Josh Katcher).

The State Senate race pits newcomer Saddam Salim, immigrant son of a long-time City of Falls Church restaurant employee, against veteran Richmond legislator Sen. “Chap” Petersen, who has represented the area to the west of Falls Church in Richmond since 2002. Redistricting put Petersen into the City of Falls Church for the first time. The winner this year will be part of Virginia’s Democratic “Blue Wall” against the incredible assaults coming from the far right nationally on issues such as abortion, gun rights, immigration and LGBTQ+ rights.

Petersen is not in sync with the progressive values of the Little City. Recognized as one of the more conservative Democrats in Richmond, he recently  spoke against collective bargaining in defense of Virginia’s right to work law. He sided with those in his Fairfax City church who supported the illegal occupation of the Falls Church Episcopal. He voted for the regrettable Marshall-Newman amendment that put an anti-LGBTQ+ clause into the state constitution, and while saying he’s changed about that, he has never publicly recanted or mentioned LGBTQ+ issues on his website. 

Recently, he failed to appear at the Falls Church Democrats’ biggest event of the year, their Spring Potluck at the Community Center. It was an inexcusable snub, and was reflected in the trouncing that he took in the straw poll there, earning only 8 of 86 votes, the rest going to Salim. 

By contrast, Salim, a newcomer to elected politics, came with his parents from Bangladesh in 2000, and his father has worked for 20 years in the kitchen at the City of Falls Church’s renowned Indian cuisine restaurant, Haandi. A graduate of Falls Church High School and George Mason University, Salim’s platform reflects the progressive values of this area far better than Petersen.

In the Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth Attorney race, the incumbent completing her first term, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, is being met by a challenge from her former employee, Josh Katcher. Both claim to advocate for progressive criminal justice reform but Katcher is claiming that Parisa has not been up to the challenge. However, many of the criticisms of her reflect, frankly, a sexist tone that has much less to do with how well she’s actually doing her job and she has many prominent endorsements supporting her.