Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Early in-person voting for the June 20 Democratic primary election at the Mason District Governmental Center continues this week, Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m., and Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. — 5 p.m., when early in-person voting will conclude at all satellite locations.  Democratic voters who haven’t voted early should go to their regular polling place to vote on Tuesday, June 20, from 6 a.m. — 7 p.m. 

Challenged seats include Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, the Mason District seat on the Board, Senate Districts 35 and 37, the Sheriff, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney. 

I am a firm believer that any candidate should have a broad community resume before asking for a vote.  Volunteering in one’s community takes many forms, and it takes a commitment of time and effort.  You don’t have to be a native, but please live in the community for at least a few years.

Board Chairman Jeff McKay is one of the finest and hardworking elected officials I know.  After 12 years as Lee District Supervisor, he took on the challenge of succeeding Sharon Bulova.  Jeff had been chairman for less than three months when Covid-19 hit Fairfax County.  His knowledge of the county, and relationships with the broader community, enabled him to take the lead in addressing the multiple challenges of the Covid crisis, from rewriting the FY 2021 budget to negotiating with the Commonwealth of Virginia for additional vaccine support for the county’s million-plus residents. He led the One Fairfax initiative and headed the Board’s effort to double our affordable housing goal to 10,000 units by 2034.  His opponent, Lisa Downing, is unknown in community and Democratic circles.  Leadership matters, and Jeff McKay is a leader, present and future, who deserves your vote.

In the 35th Senate District, 16-year veteran Senator Dave Marsden, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, is challenged by Heidi Drauschak, a Pennsylvania resident who moved to the 35th district last November.  She has no community resume, lives in a rental property in Springfield, and is bankrolled by a non-profit energy political action committee based in Charlottesville.  A review of her first quarter campaign finance report reveals that, out of 57 donors who gave more than $100, only four were residents of the 35th District, for a total of $650.  Nearly all of her fundraising contributions came from the energy PAC, people in Pennsylvania, and out-of-district donors.  Since Ms. Drauschak apparently shopped around for a district to run in, perhaps she hasn’t spent enough time getting to know her neighbors!  Northern Virginia cannot afford to lose Senator Marsden’s leadership and committee chairmanship.

Four men are running to succeed me as Mason District Supervisor.  I made it clear to all of them that I would give advice if asked, but I would not “put my thumb on the scale” by endorsing anyone.  Voters’ mailboxes are groaning from the sheer number of mailers sent so far, and there likely are more in the pipeline!

Jeremy Allen, a staff aide for Congressman Don Beyer, is a new resident of Mason District.  He has indicated his desire to go after more federal funding to augment county dollars.  A review of his first quarter fundraising reflects most donors are from his home state of Texas.  A few more years of building a community resume would be beneficial to Mr. Allen.

Andres Jimenez has amassed many endorsements. Jimenez has picked up some flak for his absences as an At-Large member of the Planning Commission, which pays a $23,000 annual stipend. Missing an evening meeting for work or family reasons can be explained, but Jimenez has missed nearly 30 percent of commission meetings in 2023.  

Steve Lee owns several commercial properties in Annandale, and has been active with A Taste of Annandale.  He recently moved from Vienna back to his childhood home in Annandale to run.  Curiously, in a candidate forum, he criticized the raise that applies to the next Board, but he did not say whether he would return the increase if elected.

Lake Barcroft resident Reid Voss, who’s knocked on more than 7000 doors since December, grew up in Sunset Manor, was the student member of the School Board in 1999, and became a Democrat during the Obama era.  He has faced the party switch head-on, but his earlier GOP activities have raised questions.

Any candidate elected to the Board of Supervisors will learn that it’s a full-time job, and that much of life is showing up – it’s not discretionary!  Winning the Democratic primary is only the first step.  The winner of the November election will represent all Mason District constituents — Democrats, Republicans, and independents.  Party identification has little bearing on good constituent service.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at


  • Penny Gross

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