The highly diverse Coles District is definitely a winnable one for Democrats this November. This past election, Tim Kaine clobbered Corey Stewart in Saunders precinct (74% Kaine), Saratoga precinct (72% Kaine), Rosa Parks precinct (70% Kaine), Spriggs precinct (67% Kaine), Yorkshire precinct (66% Kaine), Ellis precinct (63% Kaine). It was closer, but Kaine still won, in Signal Hill precinct (56% Kaine), Bennett precinct (55% Kaine), Buckhall precinct (55% Kaine), Penn precinct (50% Kaine), Marshall precinct (49% Kaine). The remaining four precincts went for neo-Confederate Corey, although two of them by very close margins – Coles precinct (49% Stewart), Hylton precinct (52% Stewart), Lucasville precinct (56% Stewart), Independent Hill precinct (58% Stewart). So, overall, Coles is a blue-leaning district, currently represented by Supervisor Martin Nohe, who was seeking election as PW County Board Chair, but lost to a far-right wingnut recently in the Republican nominating fiasco and will not be running for reelection as Coles District Supervisor, making this an open seat.
In Coles, by the way, the Republican nominee is Yesli Vega, whose views on the issues include: viewing the “so-called ‘Equal Rights Amendment” as part of the “abortion debate” and a “partisan political [stunt]”; against women’s reproductive freedom; against limiting gun rights (“I oppose the radical plan to make it near impossible for Prince William County residents to hunt and protect themselves”); claiming that seeking LGBTQ protections in the public schools is part of “advancing a radical political agenda”; against turning PW County into what she calls “a sanctuary for dangerous criminals who are in the country illegally”; for (the completely discredited, loony-tunes) “supply side economics,” which she claims “works for America and will work for Prince William County”; etc. So yeah, Vega’s a far-right Republican, definitely NOT like Martin Nohe, and definitely NOT in keeping with the Coles district’s “blue” political lean.
So again, Democrats can win Coles District, but in order to do so, we’re going to need a strong candidate – well funded, with strong roots in the community, etc. To me, while there are two very good people running in the Democratic primary – L.T. Pridgen and Raheel Sheikh, I’m endorsing Raheel Sheikh for the following reasons.
- He has very deep roots in the district and in Prince William County, owning a business and having “lived, worked, and played in the Coles District of Prince William County (PWC) for sixteen years with wife, Aeshah, and our three children; all of [whom] have been raised in PWC, and are products of the PWC public school system.”
- He also has been VERY active in his community for many years – sponsor for Girl and Boy Scout fundraisers, youth AAU Basketball Teams and PWC Public Schools athletic events; member of the Virginia Workforce Development Board; member of the Public Affairs Civic Engagement (PACE) – Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center; member of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE); President, Reserve at Hunters Mill Home Owner Association; etc.
- As of March 31, he had raised a lot more money than his opponent ($34k cash on hand for Sheikh vs. just $3.6k cash on hand for Pridgen).
- Sheikh has numerous, impressive endorsements, including from many I respect greatly. Sheikh’s endorsements include Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef, Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell, State Sen. Jeremy McPike, Del. Luke Torian, Neabsco Supervisor Victor Angry, Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood, former Democratic nominee for County Board Chair Rick Smith, PW County School Board member Justin Wilk, CASA in Action, Emgage Action, Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters, etc.
- On the issues, Sheikh is strong: prioritizing education, reducing traffic/congestion, and growing the economy in a way that contributes to “keeping jobs in the county and building a broad tax base”; commonsense gun violence prevention measures (e.g., background checks); supports updating the county’s non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity; pro-worker/pro-labor; etc.
- Also, in chatting with him for a while on the phone yesterday, I was really impressed with his personal narrative, how he “came to America at the age of 22 as an immigrant from Pakistan,” with only “200 dollars in his pocket to begin his life,” then “worked two jobs and eventually fulfilled his own American dream by becoming a small business owner,” followed by “giv[ing] back to the community to help immigrants and the people of Prince William County feel safe, welcomed and pursue their own American dream.”
In sum: Clearly, Raheel Sheikh is a highly motivated, talented guy, one who is more than ready to serve on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. I encourage everyone in Coles District to vote for him in the June 11 Democratic primary!