Diverse candidates strengthen Fairfax democracy

By Karen Keys-Gamarra

The author is an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board and is running for re-election in November.

Actions speak louder than words.  That’s true in Fairfax County, where we boast diversity that is reflected in our schools, businesses and communities.  This county has the 10th largest public school system in the nation and its students experience high test scores and graduation rates. It’s also the county where my three sons of African American and Hispanic descent were born, attended public school, met friends from all over the world and grew from these experiences. We all enjoy the fruits of our diversity.

An appreciation of our diverse culture should also be seen in the actions of our elected officials.  As my dear friend and our lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, says, “Virginia, is re-birthing democracy in the place where it was born”. I was proud to see Fairfax, who normally presides over Richmond’s upper chamber, step off the dais in protest to a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  His actions send a clear message: The Virginia Legislature and our electorate should reflect and support the diversity that has brought us much growth and success.  Fairfax’s actions were the right thing to do and I step in solidarity with him.

As we face yet another election year and primary elections, knowledge of our hard won progress also produces a challenge to our community.  We still have work to do to truly address the concerns of all of our citizens.  We have a better chance of success when we embrace our diversity at every level, including our elected representatives.  That’s why I was glad to see new elected officials like state House delegates Kathy Tran (D-42), Jennifer Carol Foy (D-2), and Elizabeth Guzman (D-31) as well as Ibraheem Samirah, who won the recent primary to represent the Democratic Party in the special election for the state House 86th district on Feb. 19.

From the Revolutionary War to the increased level of voter participation in Virginia, our state has a long, rich history. Fairfax County is an amazing community.  We are all benefactors of the growth and progress that Fairfax County has experienced and we recognize that our democracy is being challenged in the electoral process.  I urge my fellow Democrats to continue the good fight, support qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds and stand arm in arm in our democracy.  After all, this is Virginia and we are Fairfax County.  Let’s continue to show folks how true democracy works.