One of the Virginia jurisdictions I’m going to be watching closely in this “off/odd”-year election is Prince William County, which has turned solidly “blue” in presidential, federal and gubernatorial years, but lags badly at the local level. The question is, will anti-Trump backlash boost Democrats to victory in local races this year, in key competitive counties, without a gubernatorial or presidential or U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot?
One reasons for optimism in Prince William County is the fact that Republicans have gone completely off the deep end, perhaps even further than neo-Confederate Corey Stewart, with their bizarre nomination of far-right extremist/crank John Gray over experienced, competent conservative Supervisor Martin Nohe. That has made Democrats understandably more confident about our prospects in Prince William County this November, whether we’re talking about SD13 (the seat being vacated by Sen. Dick Black), HD 13 (Del. Danica Roem), HD31 (Del. Elizabeth Guzman), HD50 (Del. Lee Carter), HD51 (Del. Hala Ayala), or the County Board of Supervisors, School Board, Commonwealth’s Attorney or Sheriff races.
Speaking of the Sheriff race, I’ve decided to endorse Democrat Josh King – who I’ve known for several years and who I had a chance to speak with recently – for the nomination on June 11 (his Democratic primary opponent is Brian Fields). There are several key reasons for this:
- I strongly agree with what King has to say about the 287(g) program, namely that “this program has been used to harass, intimidate and discriminate against minorities, and people of color” and that, as Sheriff, “Josh will terminate the 287(g) program and any other agreement that hurts public trust. We must protect all residents of Prince William County. It is our job to protect, assist and defend them, regardless of status.” Exactly!
- I also very much like King’s comments about the “school-to-prison pipeline,” including his recognition that “[s]tudents with disabilities are twice as likely to be expelled or suspended than their non-disabled peers.” King notes that he himself is “a parent with a teenage autistic daughter,” and advocates for “a special needs disability docket for court cases and more diversion programs for them to receive the care that they need to be productive, not destructive.” Finally, King pledges that, as Sheriff, he “will insure that all my Deputies receive adequate training to assist and protect children and adults with special needs.” Good stuff.
- King is an Iraq War veteran, one who “had some mental health challenges when [he] returned from the war,” and who well understands that “[v]eterans services are needed more now than ever.” That includes support for the “veteran’s treatment docket” and for “encourag[ing] all veterans to seek treatment and not demonize, discriminate or shame them for seeking help.”
- I very much like that King wants to “recruit and train a whole new generation of law enforcement officers…a diverse team — including women and people of color — who reflect the community we serve.” That’s crucial.
- King also understands that “people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, the Jewish community, and the Muslim community are facing a surge of hate speech and even violence – driven in large part by the divisive rhetoric of people like our president and Prince William’s own Corey Stewart – and that many members of those communities feel increasingly unsafe” and will ensure that PW County officers receive “constant, meaningful training for my officers in cultural competence from experts in the field.” Also very important.
- King served as a military policeman, and is currently “a deputy sheriff [and] a union leader in my local SEIU Virginia 512,” all of which is excellent experience for this job.
- King has run for office previously, losing by just 12 votes to rising star Jennifer Carroll Foy in 2017, and coming very lose to knocking off incumbent Del. Mark Dudenhefer in 2015. So King has experience running for office, which will be important this November, if Democrats are to win the general election.
- King has been endorsed by SEIU Virginia 512, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CASA in Action, the Local Alliance for Urban and Rural Advancement (LAURA) PAC, VoteVets, Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades, UFCW Local 400, People For the American Way, etc.
With that, I hope Prince William County Democrats will all come out and vote on June 11, including for Josh King for the Sheriff nomination!