Rex Simmons’ bid to oust current 40th District delegate Timothy Hugo out of office took a major step Tuesday, as Simmons handily defeated Morris Meyer in the Democratic Primary. Simmons captured the win with 985 votes (62 percent) to Meyer’s 601 votes (38 percent), unofficially.
"Voters want to see a difference, and that’s why they picked me," Simmons said at his victory party Tuesday evening at Springfield Golf and Country Club. He also cited the issues he wants to address in the coming months as major reasons for his victory, such as traffic and public schooling.
Next up for Simmons will be the Nov. 6 election where he’ll square off with the incumbent Hugo (R). Simmons said his desire to run for the office came from a disapproval in the way the current delegate has handled the traffic issue in Fairfax.
"I wrote Hugo three times about traffic and got no response," Simmons said. "So I retired and decided to run against him. We’ve got to pull the party together and beat Tim Hugo in November."
Meyer said although he was disappointed in the loss, he will still continue to be active in local politics.
"I will always be active in the Democratic Party," he said Tuesday night. "I have the integrity to stand up for the Democratic values."
THROUGHOUT THE day Tuesday, both Simmons and Meyer greeted prospective voters at the polls. The candidates used this final chance to inform voters of their goals and the issues they would raise if elected.
Just before 11 a.m., Simmons was feeling optimistic about his chances.
"It’s going great," he said outside Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station as he talked with voters entering the polls. "We’ve seen a pretty good turnout so far, so we’re just greeting the voters as they come in to answer any questions on key issues they may have."
Simmons’ interaction with the voters paid off Tuesday, and he’s hoping to continue that momentum to the general election in November.
"Face-to-face contact with the voters is key," he added. "It paid off, and we’re going to keep doing it right through November."
Meyer was also positive about voter turnout mid-morning.
"It’s been pretty high so far," he said. "We are at about 2.5 percent and there have been around a hundred voters here since the polls opened."
Voters supported both Simmons’ and Meyer’s views on the election’s key issues: the transportation system, immigration and public schools.
Betty Lockhart of Fairfax echoed Simmons’ campaign issues as the main reasons as to why she voted for him, and cited his long career in local government as another factor.
"His main issues really appealed to me as the things that were important," she said as she exited the polls. "He emphasized the transportation issue, as well as education," she said. "He also had a lot more experience than his opponent."
It also wasn’t a difficult decision for Emily Simmons, 19, who also stopped by at Antioch Baptist Church to vote for her father.
"Politics are very important," she said. "It’s good to get young people out to vote and I’m trying to get all of my friends to vote. I’m trying to be a good example for young people everywhere."
Candidate Simmons also received a vote from Ashley Shapiro, 19, because of his stance on two controversial issues.
"I chose him because he’s pro-choice, which is very important," she said. "Also, he’s not against gay marriage."
Other voters had similar strong feelings about some of the issues both candidates focused on for their campaigns.
Sharon Douaire, who wouldn’t reveal who she voted for, agreed that the transportation and traffic issues were important, but stressed that the immigration problem facing Fairfax was the most important issue in the election.
"People are really afraid to bring up this issue," Douaire said, referring to the overpopulation problem facing Fairfax Station. "Just look around, it’s a huge issue out here. You don’t want to sound too prejudice, but something has to be done. It should be the number one priority right now for our candidates."
Many of the same issues were also raised outside of Clifton Elementary School as voters left.
"Morris Meyer was who I chose because I really felt he focused on the transportation issue," Martha Jeffries said as she exited. "Also, I chose Meyer not based on any factual evidence, but more so just because I liked him as a candidate and felt he would do a good job representing the district."