Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Tuesday, June 20, is the official 2023 Democratic Primary Election Day in Fairfax County, but early voting is underway, giving registered voters ample opportunity to cast their ballots.  Since 2023 is an election year for all Virginia General Assembly seats, Board of Supervisor and School Board positions, Sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Soil and Water Conservation District Directors and once every eight years, Clerk of the Court, the candidates are diverse and November’s General Election ballot promises to be lengthy.  The June 20 primary ballot will be shorter, but Mason District voters will make decisions in at least six positions.  

There are three countywide races on the Democratic primary ballot:  Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay has a last-minute challenge by Lisa Downing, a retired CIA employee.  McKay represented Lee District for 12 years before running for chairman in 2019, where he took the lead in navigating the county through the Covid-19 pandemic as well as piloting Fairfax County through some challenging budget decisions.  His continuing leadership will ensure that Fairfax County remains a stellar community with opportunities for all.  

First-term Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano is being challenged by local defense attorney Ed Nuttall.  Controversies surrounding how certain cases are handled, and the loss of attorney staff in the office, appear to be the issues in this race.  Descano handily won the general election in 2019; Nuttall has never been on the ballot.  

Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, the first female to serve as Sheriff in the county’s history, is seeking her third term in office.  She garnered the largest number of votes of anyone running in the 2019 general election.  The sheriff is responsible for courtroom security, managing the Adult Detention Center, and a variety of other public safety issues not under the purview of the Fairfax County Police Department.  The challenger is Kelvin Garcia, a former District of Columbia police officer.

Two state Senate races are on the primary ballot: District 35 and District 37.  Both districts were redrawn, and renumbered, when the Virginia Supreme Court redrew the maps after the state-appointed community committee could not reach consensus.  The new maps in both Senate districts might be a challenge to all candidates and their campaigns.  In District 35, State Senator Dave Marsden, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, is being challenged by newcomer, and new mother, Heidi Drauschak.  Marsden’s seniority in the General Assembly is a plus for Fairfax County, which is losing several longtime elected officials to well-earned retirement.  In District 37, which now includes several Mason District precincts, State Senator Chap Petersen is facing a challenge from Saddam Salim, who originally is from Bangladesh and is the vice president of the Fairfax Young Democrats.  

In Mason District, there is no incumbent for the first time in 28 years, as I announced in December that I would not seek re-election to an eighth term.  Four men are vying to win the Democratic primary; I met with each candidate late last year, gave them advice when asked, and told them that I would not endorse any candidate, but let the voters decide.  Jeremy Allen is a new resident in the Bren Mar section of Mason District, a young father, and is a congressional aide for constituent services.  Andres Jimenez, a Seven Corners resident, is an at-large member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, and heads an environmental foundation.  Steve Lee, a Korean-American businessman in Annandale, is a member of the county’s Economic Advisory Commission.  Reid Voss, who grew up in Bailey’s Crossroads and now lives in Lake Barcroft, is a realtor and owns a small business.  All are eager, and campaigning hard, to progress to the general election in November.

Fairfax County voters can log on to for more information about early voting.


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at