As I noted recently, while we’re all mostly focused – and for good reason – on the battle for control of Congress, there are definitely some local elections in Virginia worth keeping an eye this fall. One of those is the race for mayor of Fairfax City, a city of about 23,000 people in the midst of – but independent from – Fairfax County. Just to give an idea of the political makeup of Fairfax City, here are some results from recent elections:
- Governor 2021: Terry McAuliffe (D) 63.7%-Glenn Youngkin (R) 35.6%
- President 2020: Joe Biden (D) 68.0% – Donald Trump (R) 29.7%
- US House 2018: Gerry Connolly (D) 67.2% – Jeffery Dove (R) 30.6%
So based on these results, it looks like Fairfax City is deep-“blue,” and that a solid Democratic candidate should win easily there. And yes, that’s certainly been true for state and federal office in recent years. But how about for local office, such as the city council or mayoral contests? A few points on that topic:
- First, note that Virginia municipal elections, such as the Fairfax City mayoral race, were moved by the General Assembly from spring to fall, and this is the first year we’ll be seeing what kind of difference that makes in terms of election results.
- When municipal elections were held in the spring, Fairfax City saw lower voter turnout (roughly 2,500-3,000 voters out of a city of 16,000 registered voters) compared to a U.S. House election year, such as the 10,549 who voted in 2018.
- Now that municipal elections have been moved to the fall, we are going to see a new set of voters participating for the first time in city elections. Also note that holding elections in November means that the traditional view of these contests as “non-partisan” is going to be a lot harder to maintain, given that in November, there will be high-profile partisan races on the ballot, in this case for US House, between Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11) and his right-wing-Republican opponent Jim Myles.
So anyway, this year, the election for Fairfax City mayor pits longtime Democrat and community leader Catherine Read (see below for more information on her) against Republican US House staffer Sang Yi. Of course, in a deep-blue place like Fairfax City, you’d expect Yi to downplay his conservative Republican connections and views, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. But in the end, will Fairfax City voters really want someone as mayor who:
- First sought elected office in 2015 when he ran for House of Delegates as the Republican nominee against incumbent Democratic Delegate David Bulova (Yi lost that race 57.4%-42.6%).
- On June 24 of this year, held a fundraiser with Governor Glenn Youngkin at the Fairfax Country Club with other prominent Republican leaders like Ed Gillespie and Pat Herrity on the host committee. (Youngkin has since tried to deny he was at this fundraiser, and the event wasn’t really noticed because it was on the same day as the Dobbs decision was handed down, but the invite and some photos are still available)
- Has tweeted numerous times in support of Youngkin and Republicans in Virginia, so it’s safe to assume he’s aligned with them in terms of policy and values.
- Currently has $100,000+ on hand, which is a LOT for a small municipal race. To give some context, up until this year, most mayoral candidates raised, at most, around $10,000-$25,000. David Meyer raised $25,000 in 2020 for his race. So why has Yi raised so much money for such a small race? Some of it has probably gone to council candidates that he’s recruited to run, as Yi clearly wants a conservative majority on the council.
- Yi doesn’t explain it clearly on his candidate website, but he works as an investigator for the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. In that capacity, Yi has reported to hard-right, Republican Congressmen like Louis Gohmert, Paul Gosar and Ron DeSantis.
- Is a huge fan of far-right Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
- Endorsed Barbara Comstock (R) for Congress and Ed Gillespie (R) for US Senate in 2014.
- Ran for Fairfax City Council and won in 2018, in part by strongly deemphasizing that he’s a conservative Republican.
- Has a campaign manager who previously worked for Republican candidates like Glenn Youngkin for governor and Caleb Max in VA10.
Meanwhile, in stark contrast, Catherine Read:
- Is a longtime resident of Fairfax City, who put all three of her children through the public schools here and has a media consulting business there.
- Has served on the Boards of Britepaths, Equality Virginia and GrandInvolve.
- Has worked for many years to help Democrats get elected locally and around the state, focusing especially on women, people of color and first-time officeholders.
- Is supported by Congressman Gerry Connolly, Delegate David Bulova, and current Fairfax City Mayor David Meyer.
- Has been endorsed by Moms Demand Action.
- Is strongly pro-choice, presumably in stark contrast to conservative Republican Sang Yi.
So the choice of Democrat Catherine Read in this election is crystal clear. If you want to help her defeat conservative Republican Sang Yi, you can donate here; vote for Catherine early; sign up here to talk to early voters at City Hall; volunteer to help her campaign; or canvass. Go Catherine!