Fairfax County is a large jurisdiction (1.2 million people), with nine “magisterial districts” that are each, in some ways, their own feifdoms of whoever the Supervisor is there. Also, most of these magisterial districts are solid blue at this point, which means that the Democratic primary is basically the “ballgame.” In other words, if you don’t vote in the Democratic primary on June 11, you’re basically throwing away your chance of having a say in who your next Supervisor is, possibly for many years to come. Why would anyone do that? Got me.
Which brings us to Lee magisterial district in the southern part of Fairfax County, just north of Mt. Vernon district. Lee’s current Supervisor, Jeff McKay, is not running for reelection to that position, as he’s running for County Board Chair. Which means that this is an open seat, with four Democrats – Rodney Lusk, Larysa Kautz, James Migliaccio, Kelly Hebron – running to succeed McKay. Like a lot of these magisterial district races, Lee’s Democratic primary is not a clear-cut choice by any means, as there are four excellent Democrats running. But the reality is, voters can only choose one. And for what it’s worth, my recommendation is that Lee District Democrats choose Larysa Kautz on June 11. Here’s my thinking on this one.
- First off, Kautz is extremely impressive. I met with her a month or so ago, and just listening to everything she does in her average day made me exhausted. A few highlights from her bio include: she’s a first-generation child of immigrants (which brings that experience to the Board); the mom of a child “on the autism spectrum” (again, valuable experience/perspective to bring to the Board); she’s “Chief of Staff to a large nonprofit, Melwood, that creates thousands of jobs annually for people with disabilities in Virginia, Maryland and DC”; she’s got nearly 20 years of experience in law, business, nonprofit management, government relations, and communications,” as well as “a JD from Yale Law School, and an LLM in tax law from the Georgetown University Law Center”; she has worked as “a tax and corporate lawyer, focusing for over a decade on the development of affordable housing, commercial real estate, and public-private partnerships”; she serves or has served on the Fairfax County Advisory Social Services Board, the Fairfax County Adult and Community Education Advisory Committee, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee Finance Committee, Governor-Elect Northam’s Policy Council on Workforce Development, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) State Rehabilitation Council, Lawyers for Good Government, and the Office of the White House Counsel under President Obama. All of that, in my view, is superb, relevant experience to be a great member of the Fairfax County Board! Not to mention that it’s exhausting to even think about doing all that.
- Second, Kautz will add a strong progressive and environmentalist voice to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. As you can see from her issues page, she’s very strong on everything most of us care about. I’ve seen some of her responses to various questionnaires, as well, and they are impressive – thorough, knowledgeable, well-reasoned and well-written. I’m confident that she’ll be the same way on the Board of Supervisors.
- Third, as I wrote in my endorsement of Erika Yalowitz for Providence District, the Washington Post’s/Lee Hockstader’s all-male, all-“establishment” endorsement editorial the other day really pissed me off. It also made me realize that we can’t just look at these magisterial district races on a case-by-case basis, but that we *also* have to consider the overall picture, the cumulative effect, of what the overall Board could look like if all the WaPo-endorsed candidates win. The fact is, Fairfax County currently has a board that, with only one African American and no Latinos, no immigrants, and no Asian-Americans, definitely doesn’t look (at all) like the county’s demographics. Also consider that the members who are retiring include board’s only minority member (Cathy Hudgins, who is African American), and three Democratic women overall (Linda Smyth in Providence District, Cathy Hudgins in Hunter Mill District, Board Chair Sharon Bulova). Which means that, if these supervisors are all replaced by men as the WaPo wants, the board will become even *less* diverse than it is now. And sorry/not sorry, but going backwards on diversity right now, given the makeup of Fairfax County, the white-supremacist-sympathizing occupant of the White House, the “blackface” scandals in Virginia, etc., is simply not acceptable IMHO.
- To me, the choice in Lee District comes down to Larysa Kautz and Rodney Lusk, who is very impressive himself and also the clear “establishment” choice (endorsed by Rep. Gerry Connolly, current Board Chair Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Penny Gross, Supervisor Linda Smyth, a bunch of labor unions, etc.). Given all that, I’d say that Lusk is the odds-on favorite to win on June 11. And I seriously considered endorsing him. In the end, though, I feel like Kautz will bring a much-needed perspective, a great “skill set” that will contribute to the work of the County Board, and a great deal of relevant and impressive experience – even if it isn’t the prototypical profile the “establishment” typically looks for.
- Lusk, meanwhile, has a lot of very impressive experience, but it’s almost all with the Fairfax County Development Authority (“Chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the FCEDA is led by a board of county business leaders and funded by the Fairfax County government to promote the county as one of the world’s best business locations and build the county’s commercial tax base”), which means that the choice here is between more of a Fairfax County government “insider” (Lusk) and a bit more of an “outsider” (Kautz). This was a significant factor in helping break the tie for me between Lusk and Kautz. As are the other factors I noted above, including the loss of women on the Fairfax County Board…and the need to replace them.
Anyway, Larysa Kautz is my pick in Lee District. I don’t think that Lee District voters will be badly served if one of the other Democrats win. I simply am explaining – for whatever it’s worth – who I’d vote for if I lived in Lee District.