Print Print
October 30, 2011 Published in Choice 2011 2011 Voter Guide

On November 8, Alexandrians will have the opportunity to go to the polls to elect two members of the House of Delegates, three members of the Virginia State Senate and the Clerk of Court who will represent them for the next two, four and eight years respectively. There are four possible combinations of representatives depending on where you live in Alexandria. The only city-wide race is the Clerk of Court.

Voting Information

The polls will open at 6:00 a.m. on Nov. 8, and close at 7:00 p.m. In-person absentee voting is open at the Alexandria Voter Registration Office, 132 North Royal St., Suite 100, through 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

For more details (including the November 8 General Election Fact Sheet) visit:


Clerk of Court

The Clerk of Court manages a staff of 21, many of whom interact with the public on a daily basis. The Clerk oversees all office activities, assigns clerks to the courtrooms where the three Circuit Court judges preside and manages all of the files associated with the Circuit Court.

Ed Semonian (Courtesy Image)

Ed Semonian (Courtesy Photo)

Democrat Ed Semonian has served Alexandria's Clerk of Court since 1980. During that time he has overseen the move of the Court's filing system from paper to digital. Alexandria began this conversion under Semonian in 1984 when the City Council invested a significant amount of money to modernize record keeping. The state courts adopted an electronic system in the 1990s and Alexandria now has a substantial archive of online records. A summary of most records are accessible to the public for free, while access to detailed records requires payment.

By all accounts, the attorneys who rely on the Office for information believe that Semonian is doing an exemplary job. He is 77 years old and the Clerk is elected for an eight-year term.

A nearly lifelong resident of Alexandria, he attended George Washington High School and received both his BA and Law degrees from George Washington University. After graduation he practiced law as a sole practitioner in Alexandria and also later as a partner in the law firm of Clarke, Richard, Moncure and Whitehead. Subsequently he was a Vice President and head of the trust department at United Virginia Bankshares. For more than two decades, starting in 1980, he was a member of the Board of Directors and then Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Alexandria.

He has been a member of the Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century, the only Circuit Court Clerk appointed to the Advisory Committee on Rules of Court of the Virginia Supreme Court, an active participant in the Clerks of the Court Professional Certification Program, a member of the Virginia Court Clerk's Association and the Virginia Metropolitan Court Clerk's Association.

A member of the Alexandria Sanitation Authority since 1969, Semonian served as Chair of the Authority from 1979 until 2010. When he stepped down as Chair in 2010, Mayor William D. Euille presented him with a proclamation on behalf of City Council and credited him with being largely responsible for the City's state-of-the-art water treatment facility, which is considered one of the most advanced in the United States. Other civic activities include being a member and former Trustee of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, a former Chair of the Alexandria Cancer Crusade, a former Board member of the Alexandria Mental Health Clinic and a former Board member of the National Orthopedic Hospital.


Chris Marston (Courtesy Image)

Chris Marston (Courtesy Photo)

Former Alexandria Republican City Committee Chair Chris Marston is challengin Semonian.

According to Marston's web site:

Chris owns and operates a compliance consulting company, has lived in the Taylor Run neighborhood of Alexandria since relocating to the City a year after completing his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College.

Professionally, he has served in important management roles in Federal and state government, most recently, as Assistant Secretary for Management, a Senate-confirmed post at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to traditional functions of human resources, facilities and security, his responsibilities there included management of the office of hearings and appeals as well as information and records management.

As a volunteer, Chris has also held key leadership roles in important government and community organizations. Currently, as secretary of the Library of Virginia Foundation, he continues his long association with the Library of Virginia, which manages the Circuit Court Records Preservation Program. Chris served on The Library Board from 1998-2006 as an appointee of the Governor. His colleagues elected him chairman in 2005.

Chris also served as president of the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau (now Volunteer Alexandria). He is a founding board member of the Parent Leadership Training Institute of Alexandria. An Eagle Scout, Chris is also an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, serving on the Colonial District Committee and as a Webelos Den Leader in Pack 801.

A graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, Chris is a member of the Virginia State Bar. He attends Westminster Presbyterian Church.


House of Delegates

Decennial redistricting left Alexandria with two members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Incumbents David Englin (D 45) and Charniele Herring (D 46) are running unopposed.


David Englin (Courtesy Photo)

David Englin (Courtesy Photo)

Englin has served in the House of Delegates since 2005. He represents Alexandria's East End.







Charniele Herring (Courtesy Photo)

Charniele Herring (Courtesy Photo)

Herring was first elected in a Special Election in January 2009 and subsequently elected to a full term later that year. She represents Alexandria's West End.








Virginia Senate District 30

There are two candidates in the 30th Senate District race: Democrat Adam Ebbin and Republican Timothy McGhee. These candidates are vying for the seat, which was held by retired Senator Patsy Ticer for the past 15 years.

Adam Ebbin (Courtesy Photo)

Adam Ebbin (Courtesy Photo)

Before winning a hotly contested primary in August, Ebbin represented the 49th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for eight years.

According to his web site:

Adam has fought to advance progressive priorities, including incentives for cleaner energy, funding for mass transit improvements, an end to discrimination in state employment, and justice for exploited workers and victims of human trafficking.

Before Adam was a Delegate from Northern Virginia, he was a hardworking Democratic activist. A member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee for more than 20 years, Adam also served on the State Central Democratic Committee, and in 1992 was a co-founder of the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club. He served as campaign manager for Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette in 1993, and as an Alexandria coordinator for U.S. Senator Chuck Robb in 1994. Adam served as both secretary and vice chair of the Eighth Congressional District Democratic Committee. Time and again, Adam was willing to give of his time and talents to further progressive causes.

His leadership skills were recognized by Governor Mark Warner, who in 2002 appointed Adam to serve as Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry.

In 2003, Adam Ebbin stepped forward to run for the House of Delegates from the 49th District, including parts of South Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax. Coming in first in a crowded primary contest, Adam immediately set to work, putting into action in Richmond the values and priorities of Northern Virginia.

As a state delegate, Adam has distinguished himself as a a voice for the easily exploited. He has won approval of legislation to enable lower interest rates on deferred property taxes for seniors (HB 2635, 2005), to create a solar resource fund to increase production of clean energy (HB 2919, 2011), to create a Public Defender office in Arlington County (HB 1500, 2004), and to provide support to victims of human trafficking (HB 2190, 2011). He also led a bipartisan effort that provided access to life insurance benefits to domestic partners (HB 865, 2008 and HB 352, 2010).

While effectively advancing progressive legislation in a body dominated by conservative Republicans, Adam has continued to push the envelope on issues such as employment nondiscrimination and environmental protection. He filed the first legislation in the Virginia House to address waterway pollution caused by throwaway grocery bags.

Adam serves on the Education, Transportation and Health, Welfare and Institutions Committees. A native of Commack, New York, Adam has resided in Alexandria since 1989 and is a 1985 graduate of the American University in Washington, DC and was a Fellow at the University of Virginia's Sorenson Institute of Political Leadership in 2000.


Tim McGhee (Courtesy Photo)

Tim McGhee (Courtesy Photo)

Until he announced his candidacy, McGhee was relatively uknown in Alexandria.

According to his web site:

Tim has spent his entire professional career in the Northern Virginia area since 1999, and has lived in Alexandria since 2004. Since moving to Alexandria, he has also operated what might be overly generous to call a small business. While it has been mostly supplemental income over the years, it has been his sole means of sustenance for periods of time. In his employed positions, he has employed others and worked to ensure their work is meaningful and purposeful.

He has worked in Web development, sales, management, event production, facility management, information technology, and database management. While those fields are varied, there has been an overarching theme to his work, even before entering the full-time workforce: operations. In more abstract terms, he frequently takes on roles related to what could be described as information logistics.

Most recently, since 2007, Tim has worked in church administration at Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington where he is a member, and now at The Falls Church in their information technology department. As one who works for a religious institution that once also had the responsibility of collecting civil taxes, Tim believes the separation of roles between the City of Falls Church and The Church at the Falls (from which the city took its name) is clear.

We cannot legislate vertical morality—righteousness before God. The Bible actually says as much. Paul wrote, "If there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." In contrast, everything we legislate in a system of self-government is a matter of horizontal morality—justice before man. That's why we call the budget a moral document.

Understanding the role of government and its inner workings has been a longtime passion and matter of curiosity. Tim has undertaken several open government projects of his own, the most visible of which are @HouseFloor and @SenateFloor on Twitter.

While the Virginia General Assembly has official @VAHouse and @VASenate Twitter accounts, they do not give moment-by-moment updates of floor progress on legislation. Thus, @VAHouseFloor and @VASenateFloor are Tim's latest open government projects currently in progress.

He is grateful for the work done by Virginia's Division of Legislative Automated Systems and hopes to work with them on expanding that further so that groups like Richmond Sunlight and others can further open up the Virginia legislative process.

Having grown up near the space coast in Florida, Tim is an avid fan of NASA and the space program. He frequently watches NASA TV, the ISS Views channel—which never gets old—and has been known to go outside and pull aside friends and complete strangers to show them the International Space Station flying overhead.

He has seen the trail from Alexandria where a rocket launched from Virginia's own Wallops Island. In June 2011, Tim and a group of potential constituents watched a launch from the Alexandria waterfront. It seems the launch generated some excitement.

The 30th Senate District along Virginia's Potomac coast has one of the better views in Northern Virginia of Virginia's space program. His spirit of exploration is alive and well. Tim also has enjoyed Geocaching and has a couple caches related to green energy.

Tim is the son of a naturalized American citizen and of a granddaughter of four immigrants. When his mother was expecting him, she was moved to tears when she heard his heartbeat for the first time. He has numbered his days since new year's weekend of 2006, three weeks before he outlived his natural dad. He is still grateful for his father that adopted him.

According to a second cousin of his in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Tim is 7th cousins with Drew Brees of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Tim has an honors degree in mathematics from Bryan College. He tends to read non-fiction books.


Virginia Senate District 35

There are three candidates running for the Virginia 35th District Senate seat: Incumbent Democrat Richard Saslaw, Republican Robert Sarvis and Green Party candidate Katherine Pettigrew.

Richard Saslaw (Courtesy Photo)

Richard Saslaw (Courtesy Photo)

Saslaw, the Majority Leader in the Senate has served since 1980. Prior to that he served two terms in the Virginia House of Delegates. According to his website:

Dick Saslaw understands that representing the people of Northern Virginia is a privilege, and serving the 35th District is a responsibility that he takes very seriously. His distinguished public service has brought about real results for Northern Virginia. Throughout his entire tenure in the Legislature, Dick has fought to improve public education, maintain a business-friendly climate, and find solutions for our transportation problems.

First elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, Dick Saslaw has served the people of the Commonwealth in the Virginia General Assembly since 1976. In 1980 he was elected to the Senate of Virginia. Recognized by his colleagues for his effective leadership, Senator Saslaw serves as the Senate Majority Leader. He chairs the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and the subcommittee on transportation for the Senate Finance Committee. Since 2008, he has been a budget conferee and has played a key role in shaping Virginia's fiscal policy and the state budget.

Senator Saslaw continues to use his position on key Senate Committees to pass legislation that will improve the lives of Virginians. In 2011, he was instrumental in securing an increase in funding for Virginia's public education system. During every legislative session, he works tirelessly to maintain Virginia's strong business climate and to create opportunity across the Commonwealth. In 2011, the non-partisan organization Virginia FREE ranked Dick Saslaw as Virginia's most effective senator.

Saslaw is known for his ability to work with both Democrats and Republicans in order to get results for his constituents. Dick Saslaw has been acknowledged for his dedicated commitment to moving Virginia forward and fiscally responsible stewardship. The following organizations have recently highlighted Senator Saslaw's unwavering leadership; The Hispanic Alliance, The Korean American Association, The League of Conservation Voters, the Virginia Autism Project, and Autism Speaks.

Dick grew up in Washington, D.C. He served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1960, prior to earning a B.S. in economics from the University of Maryland. In college he was a member of the track team, and still runs twenty miles every week. He is a successful local businessman in the gasoline and auto service industry.

He and his wife Eleanor have resided in Northern Virginia since 1968. Their daughter Jennifer is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, the University of Virginia, and Stanford School of Law. Eleanor retired from Fairfax County Public Schools as director of guidance from West Springfield High School. First appointed by then Governor Mark Warner, she continues to serve the public as the President of the State Board of Education.

Committee Assignments:

1. Commerce and Labor, Chair

2. Courts of Justice

a. Subcommittee – Civil

b. Subcommittee – Mental Health


3. Education and Health

a.Subcommittee on Higher Education


4. Finance

a. Subcommittee on Claims

b. Subcommittee on Education

c. Subcommittee on Transportation, Chair


5. Rules

a. Subcommittee on Standards of Conduct


Joint Legislative Studies

1. Joint Rules


Legislative Commissions

1. Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates

2. Commission on Electric Utility Regulation

3. Council on Virginia's Future

4. District Courts

5. Intergovernmental Cooperation


Other Commissions, Boards, etc.

1. NCSL Education Committee (2010-2012)

2. SLC Education Committee (2010-2012)


Community Recognition in 2011

The Hispanic Alliance: Leader Of The Year Award

Virginia FREE: Virginia's most effective Senator

Korean American Association: Certificate of Appreciation

League of Conservation Voters: Legislative Hero

VA Autism Project & Autism Speaks: Autism Champion



Robert Sarvis (Courtesy Photo)

Robert Sarvis (Courtesy Photo)

Republican Robert Sarvis lives in Annandale with his wife and young son. According to his web site:

Rob graduated from Thomas Jefferson in 1994 and went to Harvard University for college. He majored in mathematics while also studying economics and computer science, and spent summers doing technical work and mathematics research for the Department of Defense. He graduated from Harvard in 1998 and went on to study at the University of Cambridge, where he received the degree of Master of Advanced Studies in Mathematics in 1999. Rob began a math Ph.D. program at Berkeley, but left to join an internet startup in San Francisco, where he worked as a software developer until late 2001, when the internet bubble burst resulting in layoffs at the company.

In 2002, Rob returned to school to study law at NYU. There, Rob co-founded the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty and received the John Bruce Moore Award for Excellence in Law and Philosophy and the Vanderbilt Medal for Outstanding Contributions to the Law School. He received his J.D. in 2005, served as a law clerk to the Honorable E. Grady Jolly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's D.C. office as an attorney.

In 2008, following the launch of the iPhone and Android platforms, Rob left the law firm and co-founded an award-winning mobile-applications development company, Wertago LLC, where he currently works.

On transportation:

"I propose a state constitutional amendment that requires proportionality between regional transportation funding and regional share of tax revenues (or some other sensible metric). Northern Virginia State Senators and Delegates should go to Richmond unified in the goal of bringing about such an institutional change, which is the only way to bring about fairness and protect it in the long run," Sarvis wrote on his web site.

On taxes:

"I propose totally overhauling Virginia's tax scheme, replacing it with a system designed for long-term prosperity and transparency. No more loopholes. No more group favoritism. No more carve-outs and subsidies. No more inefficient, cost-hiding social and industrial policies enacted through the tax system. Just a simpler, fairer, more robust system, friendly and transparent to all, with a broad base and low, stable rates, sufficient to fund our most important priorities," Sarvis wrote on his web site.


Katherine Pettigrew (Courtesy Photo)

Katherine Pettigrew (Courtesy Photo)

Green Party Candidate Katherine Pettigrew lives in Fairfax County with her husband an daughter. She is Professor of Chemistry at George Mason University and supports "More Trains and Less Traffic".








Virginia Senate District 39

There are two candidates for the Virginia 39th District Senate Seat: Incumbent Democrat George Barker and Republican Miller Baker. Because of decennial redistricting, Alexandria now has six West End precints in this district.

George Barker (Courtesy Photo)

George Barker (Courtesy Photo)

Democrat George Barker was first elected to the State Senate in 2007. According to his web site:

Prior to his election, he had been active in a number of civic and community organizations since first moving to Northern Virginia more than 35 years ago.

George has two degrees from Harvard University, receiving undergraduate honors in Economics and Public Health and a master's in Health Policy and Management. For three decades he worked for the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia, seeking to contain skyrocketing health care costs, promote quality of care, and ensure access to medical care for Virginia families. He currently consults on health care issues.

As the chair of Fairfax County's Transportation Advisory Commission and vice-chair of the Tysons Task Force, George worked to improve transportation conditions and help re-design Tysons Corner – Fairfax County's "downtown" – into an integrated urban area. He also chaired several other state, county, and regional organizations related to health care, human resources, and transportation.

More locally, George has been a board member of the Occoquan Watershed Coalition since 1997, a member of the Green Breakfast Group since 2004, a member of the Mount Vernon-Lee and South Fairfax Chambers of Commerce, and was president of his homeowners' association from 1991-2007. He was president of the PTA at Robinson Secondary from 1992-94 and at Mt. Vernon High School from 2000-01. He previously hosted "Focus on Franconia" and "Spotlight on Springfield" on Channel 10's Fairfax Public Access Television.

George and his wife Jane reside in Clifton. They have two grown children, Erik and Emily, and were foster parents to 13 children. He is a member of Fairfax Presbyterian Church, where he served as youth group leader and member of the governing board.

2011 Legislation:

Job Creation

SB1050/SB1379 uses funds from the Governor's Opportunity Fund for investment and job creation right here in Northern Virginia.

Education and Kids

SB1037 eliminates independent living as a permanency goal for foster care plans.

SB1038 allows a child placed in foster care to remain at his original school, if determined to be in his best interest.

SB1074/SB1391 allows veterans settling in Virginia and members of the National Guard to receive in-state tuition.

SB1077/SB1448 allows students enrolled in International Baccalaureate and Cambridge courses to receive AP-equivalent credit.

SB1078 permits the employees of a child daycare program regulated by a local government to administer medication to a child.

Public Safety

SB1040 requires local boards of social services and licensed child-placing agencies to obtain background checks on adult household members where a child is being placed on an emergency, temporary, or permanent basis.

SB1049 requires contractors conducting business with the state to ensure their employees are here legally.

SB1220 provides that if a landlord fails to notify the tenant of a notice of mortgage acceleration, the tenant has the right to terminate the rental agreement.

SB1222 permits those in dating relationships and other relationships beyond immediate family to seek protective orders when violence or harm is threatened.

SB1338 requires insurance companies licensed in the Commonwealth that offer retained asset accounts for death benefits to provide the beneficiary with written information describing the settlement options, keeping them safe from benefit manipulation.

Healthcare and Seniors

SB1039 clarifies provisions allowing certain nursing facilities to participate in the Medical Assistance Program for seniors.

SB1073 gives counties full flexibility to exempt the elderly and permanently disabled from property taxes.


SB1221 exempts the business community from duplicating studies already done for local governments.

Government Efficiency

SB1032 increases the size of the rainy day fund, forcing government to save money to maintain core services in tough times without raising taxes.

SB1036 allows localities to modify voting machines to meet legal requirements for accessible voting equipment.

SB1076 clarifies election recount procedures when a discrepancy arises with the optical scan tabulator.

SB1223 establishes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Funding Pool Program, to consist of block grant funds for service providers who expand TANF programs.

SB1224 establishes that the Department of Social Services is designated as the state agency responsible for coordinating public agencies and charitable groups seeking to assist low-income Virginians.



Miller Baker (Courtesy Photo)

Miller Baker (Courtesy Photo)

Republican candidate Miller Baker lives in Clifton. He and his wife Margaret have five children. According to his web site:

Miller Baker is a nationally recognized constitutional lawyer who heads the appellate practice of a major national law firm in Washington, D.C. He has argued and won cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and has been recognized as "Litigator of the Week" by the American Lawyer and as a Washington, D.C. "Super Lawyer" for his litigation accomplishments.

Miller led the fight against an unconstitutional federal statute that allows unscrupulous plaintiffs' attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits against U.S. companies merely because a company's products are marked with expired patent numbers.

After 9/11, Miller was the first legal scholar to spot a dangerous defect in federal laws designed to preserve continuity of government. Because of his insight and innovative suggestions for reform, Miller was invited to testify three times before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the Continuity of Government Commission, a joint undertaking of the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution. The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and the Washington Post all quoted his congressional testimony.

Miller has also appeared on CNN, Fox News, and other major national media outlets.

Miller has also served in all three branches of the federal government. As Republican counsel to Senator Orrin Hatch on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Miller played a key role in the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas. As one of the youngest lawyers in the Reagan Justice Department at age 24, Miller worked on the selection of federal judges and drafted material that President Reagan used in speeches and legislative signing statements. Before working in the Reagan Administration, Miller served as a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge and a federal district judge.

Miller has also served his country and his community. He served for eight years as a naval reserve officer, where his duties included assignments at sea and anti-terrorism, and received an honorable discharge. Miller also served for several years as committee chair of Boy Scout Troop 554 in Prince William County. He is vice president of his homeowner's association in Clifton, a member of the Seton School Parents Organization, the Reagan Alumni Association, the Federalist Society, the Center for the Arts in Manassas, and the Virginia State Bar.




Post to Twitter

Comments are closed.