I spent most of primary Tuesday this week standing in front of polling places introducing myself to constituents, thanking them for participating in this important election, and encouraging them to cast their votes for my endorsed candidates, Ralph Northam for Governor and Justin Fairfax for Lieutenant Governor.
After casting my own vote at Lemon Road Elementary School, I made my way to Marshall High School for the morning rush, where I stood alongside an energetic, passionate Tom Perriello supporter who was assertively approaching voters and urging any who might be at all in doubt to support Tom!
She’d arrived before I had and had the run of the place for the very early morning. The local volunteers, whom I knew well, said they were glad I’d shown up to make sure both sides could be heard.
“She’s really very good,” they told me. “She has good arguments and I think she’s won a number of people over. We’re glad you are here so people can get both sides.”
As the next voter approached I listened intently to hear what she was telling folks that was so convincing.
“Tom’s the true progressive in the race. He’s the first person to propose a $15 an hour minimum wage – now Northam does too, but only because Tom proposed it first.”
I interrupted – I know, rude – “Actually,” I interjected, “I was the first politician in Virginia to propose a $15 minimum wage, in 2015 – and I’m supporting Ralph.”
“Well,” she continued, “Tom is the first candidate for governor to do it, and it’s just an example of his bold progressive agenda. Tom is the true progressive in the race, and he’s going stand up to the establishment in the legislature and bring new and exciting ideas to Virginia, the ideas we need to win.”
Well, I thought. That was fast. After four years in the General Assembly I’m part of the establishment now.
“You say that,” I chimed in, “Like establishment and progressive are mutually exclusive. Many of us have been working here in Virginia for years advocating for progressive ideas and changes in Virginia. Including Ralph Northam.”
Eventually we let the poor man go cast his vote and get to work.
As the morning went on we found some time to chat. I learned that she was from Charlottesville and counted herself as a family friend to the Perriellos.
She was going to study abroad at Oxford. She was very smart. We agreed on almost everything, except who would make a better Virginia Governor.
She was convinced Tom’s fresh perspective and appeal to younger voters was essential. I thought that Ralph’s experience and ability to hit the ground running from day one in Richmond would make him more effective at getting a bold progressive vision actually enacted into law.
For the most part, Falls Churchers agreed with me. Ralph Northam won comfortably in the City, although by much narrower margins in other parts of my district, including the fast growing Merrifield area where apartment buildings keep opening and young people are flocking.
When Tom Perriello announced his candidacy I predicted it would be good for Virginia. And I still think it has been.
The primary contest made both of the candidates better campaigners. It’s allowed Ralph to show us his progressive side. To emphasize his commitment to protecting a woman’s right to control her own body, and to supporting sensible laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
It opened a dialogue about the best way to make sure all Virginians have the opportunity to get a job, a job that pays a livable wage and allows them to provide for themselves and their families.
It brought the issues into sharper focus and kept the media from devoting all of its attention to the outrageous political stunts in the race to out-Trump Trump happening in the other party’s primary.
And it reminded me that I have a lot of constituents who are impatient for change to come.
I’ll continue to work hard to be bold, and effective, in working on behalf of all of my constituents, to make Falls Church and Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, raise a family, and find success.
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov