Candidate Connection: Senate Candidates

Candidate Connection: Senate Candidates

Senate District 33                                        

Mike Van Meter (R)

Mike Van Meter (R), candidate for Virginia Senate in District 33. I graduated from the University of Florida in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in political science and spent eight years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter pilot. I received a Master of Arts in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. I worked in corrections in the Charles County, MD, sheriff’s office, as a police officer in Washington Metropolitan, DC, and as an FBI agent for over twenty years and retired in 2019. I obtained a second Master of Arts in Addictions Counseling and Co-Occurring Disorders from the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School for Addictions Studies. I am currently an addictions therapist at a major hospital.

Response: In speaking with a voter in Prince William County, I had a discussion about how fentanyl is the leading cause of death in America today for people between the ages of 18 and 39. I have had numerous voters tell me they are concerned that this drug will destroy our nation because the death rates go up every month.

As an addiction therapist, this sentiment hit home with me since I work with people dying from addiction every day. Many legislators do not realize quite how bad this problem is and therefore do not prioritize it. Additionally, they would not know what to do about it even if they did. It is imperative that we make battling not only fentanyl but all illicit drugs a priority.

I will introduce legislation that will provide resources to our law enforcement to stop the influx of this drug, provide training to our responders, and provide the necessary drug prevention education to our children. I will work tirelessly to help fellow legislators recognize the importance of this issue and gain their support in dealing with what is clearly a health problem that is quickly turning into a national security problem.

I will work to convince my fellow legislators that our number one priority in the General Assembly is the protection of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (D) 

Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (D), 42, Candidate for Virginia Senate District 33. I am a public defender, former foster parent, and proud Virginia Military Institute graduate. In 2017, I took my lifelong fight for others to the State House and became the first public defender ever elected to the General Assembly. Now, I am running for State Senate to continue fighting for Virginia families.

Response: While knocking on doors last weekend, I met a teacher who described her experience navigating our public school system at a time when staff are underpaid, schools are underfunded and understaffed, and teachers are vilified. We connected about how both of our kids sometimes don't get picked up by the bus until after school has started due to understaffing. 

I will never forget the pain in her voice as she described the fear that staff and teachers live with as gun violence continues to terrorize our communities. We can and must do better for our kids.

Growing up in the Petersburg school system, I know firsthand the importance of strong and safe public schools. I will fight to pass legislation to increase teacher pay and staff retention and ensure the state pays its fair funding share. I will also fight to remove unnecessary testing and bureaucratic burdens on teachers, increase mental health services and after-school programs, and institute an assault weapons ban.

This will be a natural continuation of my work as a delegate, where I raised teacher pay and passed gun safety legislation, earning me the support of school board members and teachers across my district and the Commonwealth. In the State Senate, I will urge my colleagues to join me in this fight because when we give teachers the benefits and wages they deserve and the tools they need to help our kids succeed, we will revitalize our classrooms and the next generation.

Senate District 34

Mark A. Springman (R)

Mark A. Springman (R). I grew up in a military family, and because of that, I grew up all over the country. As part of that, I developed an appreciation for comparative politics — seeing how other places do things and using that as a model for how things should or should not be done. That is the best thing I can offer voters — someone who isn't willing to call it good enough and constantly seeks to improve. 

Response: I was chatting with a constituent in the Saratoga precinct. She started off by saying she had just moved up here from Florida and was a registered Democrat there. We chatted for a bit and eventually found we both shared a deep appreciation for history. We started talking about education. One of the things we discussed was efficiency in education and Latin. We discussed how Latin, if taught over the course of K–12, gives students a basis in English, Grammar, Romance Languages, Classical Literature, History, Science, and Law.

I would sponsor a bill to create a merit-based scholarship to allow more Virginia high schoolers to attend UVA's summer Latin program and another bill that would cover part of the cost for teachers to attend if they committed to teaching Latin at their respective schools.

Scott A. Surovell (D)

Scott A. Surovell (D) Senator Scott Surovell has represented Eastern Fairfax County in the General Assembly since 2010. Surovell is a lifelong Mount Vernon resident and graduate of West Potomac High School, James Madison University, and UVA Law. He practices law and has dedicated his legislative career to fighting for Northern Virginia’s fair share, protecting consumers, and preserving our environment for future generations.

Response: In 2015, I was elected to serve Prince William County for the first time. One issue my new constituents made me aware of was the potential for water contamination at the Possum Point Power Plant. Dominion had four clay-lined ponds containing toxic chemicals right on the banks of the Potomac River. The neighbors I spoke with in that community convinced me we needed to fix the issue immediately. Some neighbors of the plant said that they were drinking exclusively bottled water, and many were worried about the potential for widespread contamination if extreme weather caused the ponds to breach and overflow into the river. This was an issue in our backyard and several communities across the Commonwealth. I worked with industry representatives, grassroots advocates, and my constituents to pass legislation forcing Dominion to spend $1 billion more than they wanted to to clean up the problem and do it right.

Senate District 35

Mark Vafiades (R)

Mark Vafiades (R), candidate for Virginia Senate in District 35, works in healthcare, specializing in electronic health record management. He has worked in the private sector for the federal and state governments, has owned a small business, and is a retired reserve Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy who worked in patrol for 20 years.

Mark's passion is advocating for citizens and families, especially regarding how government legislation affects them financially and otherwise.

Response: The three priority issues that Mark is highlighting (which, based on conversations with voters, are also their key issues) are as follows: Education Transparency/Parental Rights; Crime Control/Supporting Police; Cost of Living/High Taxes.

David W. Marsden (D)

David W. Marsden (D), candidate for Virginia Senate, District 35. Senator Dave Marsden was first elected to the Virginia Senate in 2011, and he served in the Virginia House of Delegates beginning in 2006. Prior to his time in the Virginia General Assembly and after years of experience in juvenile justice, Marsden was appointed Chief Deputy/Acting Director in 2000 for the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and served under Governors Gilmore and Warner.

Response: In the Senate, Marsden has sponsored and passed many bills, and he currently serves on the following Senate committees: Transportation (Chair); Finance & Appropriations; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation, & Natural Resources; and Rules; and Economic Development & Natural Resources (Chair); Public Safety; Transportation; Energy; Labor & Employment; and Companion Animals (Chair).

Marsden was born in Alexandria, Va., and has lived in the Fairfax area for his whole life. He graduated from W.T. Woodson High School and then from Randolph-Macon College. Marsden and his wife raised their three children in Fairfax County, where they graduated from Lake Braddock High School.

Response: This past week, I met with a group of constituents from Greenspring Senior Living who brought to my attention a problem that residents are experiencing. It would appear that if someone leaves Greenspring for a different level of care, they are responsible for 3 months’ additional rent. If they move to a higher level of care at Greenspring and then depart due to death or move to a different facility, they are again charged 3 months’ rent. This practice occurs in only some Erickson communities, and the rules seem to differ in many adult facilities operated by other entities.

This appears to be blatantly unfair and inconsistent. While residents signed a contract allowing this practice, some states banned such practices or limited them to 30 days of additional rent. Virginia needs to join the states that have taken action to eliminate or scale back this practice. It can cost residents or estates between $30,000 and $60,000. I intend to pursue legislation to address this critical need.

Senate District 36

Julie Anna Perry (R) 

Julie Anna Perry (R), candidate for Virginia Senate District 36, Did not respond.

Stella G. Pekarsky (D)

Stella G. Pekarsky (D), candidate for Virginia Senate District 36, grew up in a working-class immigrant family. Her parents’ emphasis on education ignited her passion for ensuring every child receives a high-quality public education. She holds a BA in American Government and Politics, a minor in International Relations, and a Master of Education in Multicultural/Multilingual Education from George Mason University.

Stella began her professional career as a public school ESOL teacher and taught in the Sully district, which she currently represents on the Fairfax County School Board and has served as Chairman. Stella and her husband own a local air charter company. They have six children. She has been a long-time engaged community member, serving on PTAs, the Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees, HOAs, and other organizations.

Response: Stella’s priorities include fighting for an economy that works for all, investing in public education and teacher pay, gun violence prevention, and fighting against restrictions on abortion access and voting rights. Her local service and community ties and relationships in Richmond will allow her to “hit the ground running" on day one to deliver for the 36th.

Stella most enjoys solving seemingly small issues that have a huge impact on the lives of individuals. Recently, a constituent’s children were disenrolled from their school two weeks into the new year when their waiver expired due to new home construction delays. Stella worked with administrators to center the needs of the students, for whom a move would have negative impacts, and was able to keep the kids in their new school while their home construction concluded. For Stella, there is no problem too small, and she will work tirelessly on behalf of her constituents.

Senate District 37

Kenneth D. "Ken" Reid (R) 

Kenneth D. "Ken" Reid (R), candidate for Virginia Senate District 37. Resident of Tysons;10 years serving in a local elected office in Loudoun County; newsletter business owner (1991–2021) and technical writer; commissioner, Fairfax County Landlord-Tenant Commission; former member, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and liaison to various town and county boards and commissions; B.A. Rutgers; M.A. University of Missouri School of Journalism; Orthodox Jew; father of twins, James and Lara, who graduated Flint Hill School.

Response: While door-knocking in Fairfax City, a number of residents told me they felt it was unfair that they needed three people in a car to use the 66 and 495 express lanes; it had previously been two people in a car. They said the roads are still congested because people don’t want to pay the exorbitant tolls. Signage is also confusing.

So, I set out a campaign to provide rebates to single-occupant drivers who use the express lanes and restore HOV-2. In my view, there is sufficient capacity on the express lanes to ensure a 55-mph or 60-mph ride for paying users, even with additional traffic. We have to equalize tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway with rates for 66 outside the Beltway. and use the money for additional widening, not trail and transit projects that are not alleviating congestion that much. The lack of reliability of Metro and buses and continued congestion in this area adds to the stress factor, and I believe it's the government’s job to help.

Highlights of some of the legislation I propose: Revise the state composite index, which disadvantages Northern Virginia counties and cities for state school funding. Research the feasibility of Medicaid paying for obesity drugs and weight reduction surgery (gastric bypass) to cut down on obesity-related ailments like diabetes and heart
disease and improve citizens' longevity and quality of life, especially the poor. Expand community health centers to give people in underserved areas access to specialists. A number of providers do not accept Medicaid, leading patients to use emergency rooms
which are costly. Examine the feasibility of establishing job training and mentoring partnerships for minors at risk of committing crimes and matching them with businesses in need of workers to remove them from bad neighborhoods and family situations. We mustn’t make it easier to commit crimes than to get a job and be productive in society.

Saddam Azlan Salim (D) 

Saddam Azlan Salim (D), candidate for Virginia Senate District 37, is running to ensure we protect Virginia’s future by investing in public education, ensuring access to reproductive healthcare, and expanding gun violence prevention measures. Saddam’s story illustrates why he’s running: His family was forced to leave Bangladesh due to catastrophes caused by climate change, so he knows firsthand why we must address the climate crisis and protect our environmental resources. His family experienced homelessness when they first arrived here, but Fairfax County’s affordable housing program helped them thrive. He also learned English and thrived in our public education system, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree from George Mason University. Finally, his mother’s life was saved by access to reproductive care, so he understands why we must ensure access for all.

Salim is proof that investing in the programs we believe in — public education, healthcare, and housing — ensures a brighter future. He will also bring his financial consulting skills to the Senate to help make the most of our budget. Salim serves on the board of the Democratic Business Council and is co-chair of South Asians for America.

Senate District 38

Matthew J. “Matt” Lang (R)

Candidate for VA State Senate District 38

Matthew J. "Matt" Lang (R) Did not reply.

Jennifer B. Boysko (D)

Senator Jennifer B. Boysko (D), candidate for reelection in  Virginia Senate 38 District, focuses her efforts on creating an economy that works for all by improving schools and workforce training programs, fighting for access to affordable healthcare including abortion, gun violence prevention, equal pay and paid family and medical leave, supporting businesses to create new jobs, advocating for our diverse population and for residents who often don’t have a seat at the table. She is a member of the following Senate committees: Transportation, Rehabilitation, and Social Services; Elections and Privileges; General Laws and Technology; and Judiciary. She chairs the Broadband Advisory Council, vice chairs the Commission on Civics Education, and represents the Northern VA Transportation Authority on over a dozen boards and commissions. Boysko graduated from Hollins University, and she and her husband, Glenn, have raised two daughters in the Town of Herndon since 1996.

Response: Knocking on doors before elections often involves hearing personal stories and requests for help. My staff advocates for constituents by contacting state agencies, utility companies, and local family services offices for help with bills, shelter, food, benefits, medical care, and more.

Many constituents can get crisis support, but legislative solutions can prevent these crises. I spoke with a mother who struggled financially after having a daughter with serious health issues and constituents caring for their parents.

One of my young constituents lost his job to care for his dying mother. Paid family and medical leave work in other states and worldwide. Small contributions pooled in a statewide fund would replace wages and salaries (80 percent, capped by the average state wage) for up to 12 weeks to care for new babies, oneself, and family members with serious medical illnesses.

Hardworking Virginians shouldn't have to choose between financial security and family. My paid family and medical leave bill passed this year with a Senate majority of Democrats, but House Republicans killed the bill. Employers with paid family and medical leave benefits have more productive and loyal workers. This fiscally responsible and compassionate solution addresses the need to provide financially and be there for loved ones in need.

Senate District 39

Sophia C. Moshasha (R)

Sophia C. Moshasha (R), candidate for Virginia Senate District 39 is a lifelong Virginian and advocate for community prosperity, At 34 years old, Sophia brings deep-rooted connections and a comprehensive understanding of Virginia's development. With expertise from her tenure in the Air Force's Small Business Innovation Program and dedication to advancing emerging technologies, she is committed to fostering small business growth, enhancing educational resources, and workforce development to ensure everyone has an opportunity for success. 

Response: A local business owner approached me at a farmers market with a strong concern about the rising toll costs on the I-66 and I-495, affecting her ability to operate her delivery service. She emphasized how the tolls squeezed her margins and ultimately hurt her employees. She presented compelling information on how the high tolls were inflating the cost of living for families in Northern Virginia.

Her passionate plea stuck with me, prompting me to further investigate the tolling policies and their impacts. This business owner's story highlighted the need for immediate action to alleviate the burden on commuters.

In response to constituents' concerns about the high costs of commuting, I plan to sponsor legislation that focuses on refunding a significant portion of local tolls paid by Virginia-based commuters. Additionally, I intend to push for the restoration of HOV-2 lanes during specific hours on I-66 and I-495 to promote car-pooling, along with equalizing tolls on I-66 inside and outside the Beltway.

To gain bipartisan support, I will emphasize the direct positive impact on the lives of our constituents, stressing the potential economic benefits and reduced financial strain on local businesses. Collaborative discussions with opposing elected officials will highlight the bipartisan nature of this issue and the shared responsibility to support the community's well-being.

Adam P. Ebbin (D)

Adam P. Ebbin (D), 59, candidate for reelection in Virginia Senate District 39, took office in 2012 after serving for eight years in the House of Delegates. Adam has resided in Alexandria since 1989 and is a 1985 graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. He was a Fellow with the Flemming Foundation for Legislative Leadership in 2006 and at the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership in 2000. In 2012, Adam was also a Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.

Response: Many persuasive and impactful constituents have shared their experiences with me over the years, including Virginians whose lives have been tragically impacted by gun violence. Those experiences led to my co-founding the Virginia Gun Violence Prevention Caucus and my championing and successfully passing legislation that banned firearms from state buildings.

Another instance where I worked closely with constituents was when an intrepid group of middle-school students organized to improve the physical conditions of their schools. They were impacted by mold in their classrooms. G.W. Middle School students conducted research,

asked questions, petitioned local school leaders, and reached out to me. Hearing from these young, organized student advocates was a breath of fresh air. As I told The Washington Post at the time, “Students deserve to be learning in a healthy environment, and staff and teachers who are in the same building year after year deserve to be teaching in a safe environment. These kids are making sure that this issue is dealt with adequately.” In 2020, with the support and compelling testimony of these local Alexandria public school students, we passed legislation requiring school boards to develop mold testing and remediation plans and to quickly notify parents of the presence of mold in their children's schools.