Shannon Wins 35th District in Close Race

Shannon Wins 35th District in Close Race

In one of the closest races in the Commonwealth, Democrat Stephen C. "Steve" Shannon won the seat representing the 35th district in the House of Delegates, over Vienna native Robert M. "Rob" McDowell (R).

"I feel elated. It was a hard-fought contest," said Shannon, as he emerged from the elevator to greet supporters at the party for Fairfax County Democrats in Merrifield.

The incumbent delegate, Republican Jeannemarie Devolites, opted for a state Senate run instead of re-election.

While the race started out as a friendly exchange between their opinions on education, transportation and taxes, it became more accusatory in tone as Election Day neared, with Republicans questioning Shannon's short-term residency in the district.

Despite that objection, 7,716 voters, or 51.37 percent, elected Shannon to serve as their representative, according to unofficial results from the Virginia State Board of Elections. McDowell received 7,303 votes, or 48.63 percent. Voter turnout was at 29.91 percent.

Both Republicans and Democrats keenly watched the race, each party believing that the district, which is primarily Republican but has supported Democrat candidates in the past, was vulnerable.

Money toward both campaigns flooded into their accounts, with Shannon receiving $268,638 in contributions and McDowell receiving $216,221, as of Sept. 30.

"Steve has already shown he is a leader by creating the AMBER Alert," said Leslie Byrne, outgoing state senator for the 34th district. "He is a go-to guy. He is one to take a leadership position, and I think that is an important thing."

Earlier in the day, McDowell was busy greeting voters at Freedom Hill Elementary in Vienna. The last few days of his campaign to be the next delegate representing the 35th district had been non-stop activity for the Republican. On the morning of Election Day, he woke up before the polls opened, voted in his home precinct, and hoped to hit all 17 precincts in the 35th district before polls close at 7 p.m.

"I've gotten a lot of positive encouragement so far," McDowell said, as he waited for voters to trickle into the voting booths.

Despite an off-year election, many area voters did come out to cast their ballots, as all seats for the General Assembly, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the Board of Supervisors chair, the Fairfax County School Board and the Soil and Water Conservation Board were up for grabs.

"It's been a fairly steady flow, and I think it's been good," said Dick Dingman as he handed out sample Republican ballots at the Vienna Community Center.

Minutes later, Joey Skaff of Vienna marched up to the community center's door.

"I feel the Republicans have gone too far to the right," Skaff said, adding that she would vote straight Democrat.

The voters that did come out to vote at the Vienna Community Center said they did so because of civic duty. While some set out to vote for a particular party or against a certain candidate, others came with issues on their mind.

"I'm concerned about schools. I'm concerned about how we're going to deal with the Virginia budget deficit," said Vienna resident Jim Hersey.

Shortly after Hersey stepped into the auditorium to vote, two members of the Sachdeva family exercised their civic duty.

"We'd like to continue to get support for the schools and transportation," said Paramjit Sachadeva of Vienna.

Narindar Sachadeva, 81, came up behind him, and added that Medicare was another concern of hers.

"For the seniors like me, a little more can be done, I think," said Narindar Sachadeva.

She paused. Transportation was also important, Narindar Sachadeva added, because it was hard for her to get around. Affordable dental care was another necessity.

"This is a precinct where people tend to vote early because of work," said volunteer Nancy Ruff as she was handing out sample Democrat ballots. She had been at the community center since 5:30 a.m., and when she voted, over 100 people were in the L-Z line. "They vote in this precinct. It's a high percentage."