Unpacking the sausage of Fairfax County elections

By Brad Swanson:

You should not look too closely into the making of laws or sausages, runs the saying attributed (incorrectly) to Germany’s “Iron Chancellor”, Otto von Bismarck. But what would he have thought about the convoluted process of making Democratic Party candidates for Fairfax County elected offices?

Overall, there will be more than 50 offices on Fairfax County ballots on November 5, 2019. Whew! And before you have elections you have candidate selection –or, in the case of non-partisan offices, endorsement.   And this is a process of legislative, not to mention sausage-packing, complexity.

To keep the machinery moving, Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) helpfully keeps a  list of candidates and ongoing selections, updated frequently. Click here  to access.

To start, here are the offices to be elected on Nov.  5:

9 State Senators
17 House of Delegates Members
9 Board of Supervisors Members
1 Chairperson, Board of Supervisors
1 Commonwealth’s Attorney
1 Sheriff
9 District School Board Members
3 At-Large School Board Members
3 Soil & Water Conservation District Directors

Total: 53

Now, let’s break it down.  Above all, keep four dates in mind: Feb. 19, May 21, June 11, and, of course, Nov. 5. Here’s why:

For state offices — senators, delegates, commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff – nominating committees for each office, with members from each jurisdiction touched by the relevant district, have already been appointed to decide how the Democratic candidate will be selected. There are three selection methods – primary, caucus, or convention – but typically primary is chosen. That means Democratic voters will go to the polls on June 11 for primary elections to decide among the competing candidates for these offices.

The nominating committees have mostly completed their work, and, as expected, all that have reported to date have chosen the primary. As they report their conclusions, the FCDC website will be updated.

For county board of supervisors – the 9 district members and the at-large chair – FCDC members decided unanimously at their Jan. 22 meeting to select candidates by primary. So these candidates will also be selected on June 11.

School board and soil and water board members are formally non-partisan, but the Democrats (and Republicans) endorse favored candidates. Here is how that works for the Dems:

For the 9 school board members from magisterial districts, there is a two-stage process. First, each district party committee will decide independently whom to recommend from its district. This will happen in March- May.  Second, the general FCDC meeting on May 21 will vote whether to accept the recommendations of the district committees. Similarly, endorsements for the 3 at-large school board members will be voted on at the May 21 general FCDC meeting.

Finally, the FCDC general membership will also decide at the May 21 meeting whom to endorse for the 3 soil and water board directors, as they are elected county-wide.

But before all that happens, residents of state House District 86 have a special election for delegate on on Feb. 19. The Democrats have already chosen their candidate, Herndon dentist Ibraheem Samirah.

In summary, here’s how to mark your calendars:

Feb.  19: Special election for state House District 86

May 21:  FCDC meeting to endorse school board and soil and water board candidates.

June 11: Primary elections

Nov. 5: The big enchilada!


Brad Swanson is the editor of The Blue View. He is an international investment manager and has also   worked as a diplomat and journalist


Photo credit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/