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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cook won't seek re-election as Braddock supervisor

Braddock Supervisor John Cook announced Nov. 16 that he won’t be running for re-election in 2019, stating, after 10 years on the board, “it is time for me to focus on other priorities in my life.”

James Walkinshaw, the chief of staff for Rep. Gerry Connolly, is running as a Democrat for the Braddock position on the BoS. He is having a kick-off campaign event on Dec. 16.

Cook is just one of two Republicans on the Board of Supervisors. The other one, Pat Herrity (Springfield) has not said whether he will run again but already has a Democratic opponent, Linda Sperling, a marketing executive and former college professor.

The only supervisor who has officially launched a re-election campaign so far is Dan Storck (Mount Vernon).

The other supervisors, including Penny Gross (Mason), have not formally announced whether they will run again, and neither has board chair Sharon Bulova. Gross says she has made a decision and plans to make an announcement after Thanksgiving.

Bulova is expected not to seek re-election, and if that is the case, Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee) and possibly, Herrity, might run for the chairmanship.

If Linda Smyth (Providence) runs for re-election, she will face a Democratic primary. Erika Yalowitz, a court officer, vice president of the Providence District Council, and community activist, is already campaigning for the Providence spot on the Board of Supervisors.

Dalia Palchik, the Providence representative on the Fairfax County School Board, says she is “seriously considering” running for Smyth’s seat on the BoS. When Palchik ran for the school board in 2015, she says, she “unseated a six-year GOP-endorsed incumbent” (Patty Reed). If Palchik does run for supervisor, she says won’t run for re-election to the school board.

The 2019 election also includes the school board, state Senate, House of Delegates, Fairfax County sheriff, commonwealth attorney, and members of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.

Yasmine Taeb, a human rights attorney, is challenging Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw in the Democratic primary.

The only school board member who is definitely not running for re-election so far is Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill).

Two candidates, Robert Walter and Laura Jane Cohen, are seeking an endorsement from the Fairfax County Democratic Committee to challenge school board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), one of two Republicans on the School Board.

In an email explaining his decision to leave the BoS, Cook states: “I leave with grave concern for the future of our broken political system.”

“I remember when people ran for office to be of service to the community, as Sen. John McCain used to say, to pursue a cause greater than your own self-interest. It’s a spirit I still largely see on the Board of Supervisors, where I have enjoyed working collaboratively and building friendships with my colleagues. Even when we have disagreed, I believe the board has conducted the county’s business with the best interests of the community in mind.”

“But that approach is not commonplace in today’s political system,” Cook says. “Ideological litmus tests, wedge issues, personal attacks, reliance on scapegoats, and downright lies are the currency of the day,” while “those who strive for moderation and consensus are marginalized.”

“In spite of the current environment, I remain committed to the ideal of public service and hope to remain engaged in community life,” he says. “I do not rule out any potential future opportunities. But today it is time for me to step back, recharge my batteries, and focus my attention elsewhere.”

Walkinshaw, in an email to potential campaign donors, stressed his service to the community, as well as his experience as Connolly’s chief aide. He has served on the board of the Ravensworth Farm civic association, as a volunteer with Friends of Lake Accotink Park, a mentor to children who experienced abuse, and a member of the Fairfax County Domestic Violence Prevention Council.

As supervisor, Walkinshaw says he would invest in schools, rebuild aging infrastructure, lead the path to a clean energy economy, expand carpool and transit options, modernize the Audrey Moore RECenter, “and give our citizens a real voice in the future of Braddock.” Walkinshaw has been endorsed by Sharon Bulova and Braddock school board member Megan McLaughlin.

In his 12 years working for Connolly, Walkinshaw says, “Gerry helped imbue in me a profound respect for the role of local government. Local government is often ignored, especially today amid the rancor and division sowed by President Trump. But it’s the most important level. It’s where problems must be solved and accountability is absolute.”


  1. I would like to thank Supervisor Cook for all of his leadership and community engagement efforts. He has been an outstanding example of inclusion of his district residents and he has set a new standard for this in my opinion. I have no partisan ties and am an independent but I saw right away how committed he was to serving his constituents and I thank him for all of his effort. Job well done.

    1. I wonder how his record compares to Penny Gross? Probably the entire BoS needs an overhaul, maybe even a re-structuring.

    2. Lets hope Gross doesn't run again. Its going to take years to undo the mess she leaves her predecessor.