Virginia will soon have its very own Justice League, and there was a preview Monday night in Arlington, at a fundraiser hosted by Arlington’s Democratic nominee for Commonwealth’s Attorney, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti to raise money for the Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates in Loudoun County, Prince William County, Stafford County, and Fairfax County.
Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy, herself a public defender who formerly worked in the Arlington Public Defender’s office, and the person who recruited Parisa to run, pumped up the crowd, talking about the incredible power of the local prosecutors and the desperate need to have prosecutors who “understand that driving while black is a thing, and that we have a real issue of the criminalization and demonization of African-Americans and Hispanics.”
Delegate Alfonso Lopez talked about how much Carroll-Foy had brought to the Caucus, how much having a defense attorney on the Courts of Justice committee meant, how it changed the priorities of the Caucus. He said of the candidates for Commonwealth’s Attorney: “You made this a topic that the entire Commonwealth is talking about. Your candidacies are so important, because the change that we’ve seen in the narrative just over the last three years is because of you.”
Each of the candidates then spoke briefly: Amy Ashworth, the Democratic nominee from Prince William County, spoke about her time in the Commonwealth’s Attorneys office under the now-retired Paul Ebert, and the sexism that permeated the office. Julia Dillon, the Democratic nominee from Stafford County described how shocked she was at the ridiculous lack of discovery (access to the prosecutor’s interviews and police reports and other case files for the defense team) rules when she moved to Virginia from Ohio.
Steve Descano, Democratic nominee from Fairfax County, spoke about his past experience as a federal prosecutor, his work with the Fairfax Police Civilian Review Panel, and with the NAACP. Interestingly, his opponent recently skipped an NAACP forum, as well as being unable to find time in his busy schedule to appear on the Kojo Nnamdi show.
Lastly, Buta Biberaj spoke about being smarter on how we spend our limited resources, and the costs inherent in having an excessively punitive system. “Who are these people that we keep locking up? They’re OUR people. We don’t throw people away.”
Senator Barbara Favola wrapped up the evening, calling on the audience to not take the election for granted, but reach out to voters. “We have to talk to people who don’t agree with us. This election is about growing our base.”