Veteran Mason District Supervisor Penelope “Penny” Gross, seeking a sixth four year term this year, faces a rare Democratic primary challenge next Tuesday June 9 from political newcomer Jessica Swanson.
The Mason District of Fairfax County lies adjacent the City of Falls Church and is part of the Greater Falls Church Postal District. Gross has been endorsed by all the Democratic heavyweights in the region, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer and Fairfax County Board chair Sharon Bulova, and including both business and labor groups (SEIU Virginia 512 and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Business Political Action Committee).
Both campaigns tout strong grassroots support, with Gross announcing 559 unique donors, 92 percent from the Mason District, Swanson claims 327 individual donors, though of the $119,384 she says she has raised, $87,221 came from one out of state group, the Leadership for Educational Equity. Swanson calls the group “an organization whose mission is to support teachers and former teachers staying in public service,” but the Gross campaign claims the group has “strong ties to efforts to push the national charter school movement and the privatization of public education.”