Around F.C., Local Commentary, National Commentary

The Weekly Diplomatic Reach: May 18 – 24

Connolly Office Staffers Attacked

Two female staffers in the district office of U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax) were attacked on Monday by a man wielding a metal baseball bat.  The man, who Fairfax City police identified as 49-year old Xuan-Kha Tran Pham of Fairfax, allegedly suffers from schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication for months.  

The two staffers, an intern on her first day and Connolly’s Outreach Director, were released from the hospital on Monday.  The Outreach Director was hit several times on the head before the staffers were able to flee to an office and hide until police arrived, while Pham proceeded to cause significant damage to the main office.

Falls Church Needs Candidates!

On Wednesday the F.C. League of Women Voters held its first of two events seeking candidates for City Council and School Board for the November election, for which the deadline to run is June 30th.  The events feature Vice Mayor Letti Hardi, who is seeking a third term on the Council this fall, and FCCPS School Board Vice Chair Tate Gould, who was elected in 2021.  

The second event will be held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Mary Riley Styles Public Library.  The event is free and informal, and a great opportunity for an excellent community citizen to get involved!

DeSantis Goes Nuclear on Trans Rights

On Wednesday, which is also the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis signed a hostile slate of legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.  He did so while calling Florida a “refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” just two days after a Floriday man was arrested after speeding off from a Denny’s with a struck bystander clinging to the roof of his vehicle after attempting to ditch his bill, and just two weeks after it was reported that a Florida teacher is under investigation after running a “Fight Club” for students.

In Florida, it is now illegal to discuss gender identity or sexual orientation in schools through age 18; or use a bathroom that doesn’t correspond with your “reproductive purpose” of either “producing eggs” or “producing sperm;” or perform drag anywhere a minor might see; or allow your transgender child to seek any sort of support.  That last part is especially troubling, as similar legislation in Texas has resulted in Child Protective Services opening investigations into at least five families with a trans child.

For most readers, this will seem a bit surreal, but here’s what’s happening right around the corner: parents of trans kids are having to prepare custodial guardianship paperwork so that, if they are arrested, their children are legally evacuated out of Virginia and into D.C. or another state with “Rainbow Wall” legislation that, amongst other things, protects parents/guardians from extradition to states with hateful laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

But Virginia isn’t like Florida or Texas, right? 

Y’all, think again.  Virginia is one single Senate seat flip away from a Republican supermajority, and similar legislation was introduced in the Commonwealth.

Virginia Exits ERIC

Last Thursday Virginia quietly became the eighth state under Republican control to pull out of ERIC (Election Registration Information Center), a secure, bipartisan system that helps fight voter fraud.

“Conspiracy theories are gaining ground in Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration, and this should be cause for concern.” said Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church).  “Whether he orders Commissioner Beals to leave ERIC because of something he read on Twitter or because he saw Ron DeSantis do it is irrelevant.  Virginia’s ability to make sure every eligible voter, and only eligible voters, have an opportunity to vote has now been compromised.”

Kaine to visit Eden Center

On Friday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) will be visiting small business owners in F.C.’s Eden Center, then participating in a roundtable at Banh Cuon Saigon with local AAPI community leaders in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, which celebrates the historical and cultural contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to the U.S.

Salim Scores Major Union Endorsements

On Wednesday IAFF Fairfax County, the largest firefighters union in the Commonwealth, endorsed Saddam Salim over one of the issues on which he and his opponent, “incumbent” Chap Petersen (who is also seeking to represent Falls Church for the first time), most visibly disagree.

“Saddam is in favor of getting rid of the so-called ‘right to work’ law that is designed to weaken unions and reduce wages.  Chap Petrsen strongly supports the ‘right to work’ law.” said IAFF Local 2608 President Robert Young.  “We cannot support a candidate that refuses to support a repeal of right to work.  All labor organizations seek to see this relic removed that is designed to suppress workers’ rights and ability to earn a living wage.”

Petersen has repeatedly defended his support for “right to work”, also known as “right to fire,” “license to discriminate,” “the union buster,” and “at-will employment.” 

Salim was also endorsed by D.C. metropolitan area chapter of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), with Petersen’s collective bargaining position cited as the primary reason.  “Saddam Salim will bring a young, progressive voice to the Virginia Senate.  He is a community leader who believes in collective bargaining, whereas Chap Petersen opposed collective bargaining rights for state employees.”

Salim also received his second endorsement from a departing member of the Virginia Legislature.    The endorsement from Kathleen Murphy (D-Vienna), who cited his positions on gun violence in a statement released Tuesday.

“We need someone who will stand up for gun safety.  Saddam is that man.  He will be a strong voice for gun safety as your Virginia State Senator and the vote we need to pass these important laws.” said Murphy, likely a reference to Sen. Petersen’s opposition to an assault weapons ban, among other things.

Early Voting Reminder

About 200 City residents have already voted in the Democratic Primary.  City residents, regardless of the Ward they reside in, may early vote at City Hall, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through June 17.  There will also be Saturday voting the two weekends prior to June 20, when voters will go to their normal polling place.

Early voting is an excellent way to check ‘civic duty’ off your ‘to-do’ list.  Democrats, don’t let Virginia turn into Texas or Florida, please!  Signed, this gay writer.