Primaries for local elected offices are usually pretty sleepy affairs in Prince William County, where only 3 percent of voters turned out in the last such election in 2015.
But with so many candidates on the ballot in today’s race, election officials are expecting between 10 and 20 percent of voters to head to the polls, according to Prince William County election officials.
In the City of Manassas, officials are planning for a turnout of between 6 and 10 percent, according to registrar Susan Reed.
Reed attributed the bump to two reasons: First, the election of President Donald Trump has had the effect of energizing Democratic voters and boosting turnout in every local election since 2016, Reed said.
Second, the countywide race for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office – open for the first time since 1968 – has sparked interest in all three jurisdictions covered by the local judicial district: Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
Reed said she could not remember the last time current Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert (D) faced a primary challenger. Ebert is retiring at the end of this year after serving in office for more than 50 years.
Two longtime local attorneys are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Ebert (D) next year: Amy Ashworth and Tracey Lenox.
On the Republican side, attorney Mike May, a former Prince William County supervisor, won his party’s nod for commonwealth’s attorney the May 4 firehouse primary.
“I think it will be a pretty good turnout,” Reed said. “People want to have a say.”
The number of absentee ballots cast before an election is usually an indicator of local interest. In the City of Manassas, 180 people cast absentee ballots as of Monday. In Prince William County, that number reached more than 900 as of last Friday.
“That’s actually more than I realized,” said Matt Wilson, spokesman for the Prince William County Office of Elections.
Who’s on the ballot in today’s primary contest?
Every voter who requests a Democratic ballot will have two races in which to cast ballots no matter where they live in Prince William County, Manassas or Manassas Park. Those are the races for commonwealth’s attorney and for the Democratic nomination for the Prince William County sheriff’s office.
In the latter race, Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh King, of Woodbridge, faces Dumfries Town Councilman Brian Fields, who was formerly a Dumfries police officer. The winner in today’s contest will face Sheriff Glen Hill, a Republican, in November.
State Senate races
Republican voters have only one race on the ballot in Prince William County today. Voters in the 13thstate Senate district will choose a GOP candidate to replace Sen. Dick Black, who is retiring at the end of the year. Two Loudoun County supervisors are squaring off in that race: Geary Higgins and Ron Meyer. The winner will face Del. John Bell, D-87th, who does not have a primary opponent.
Also on the ballot today are two Democratic candidates who hope to challenge incumbent Sen. Richard Stuart, a Republican, in the 28thDistrict. Stafford Supervisor Laura Sellers and human rights attorney Qasim Rashid are squaring off in that race. The 28thstate Senate district skirts the western border of Prince William County and includes parts of Stafford, King George and Westmoreland counties.
State House of Delegates’ races
Three races for state delegates’ seats are also on the Democratic ballot today.
In the 50thDistrict, which includes the City of Manassas an parts of western Prince William, incumbent Del. Lee Carter, Virginia’s only self-described socialist, faces a challenge on his right from Manassas City Councilman Mark Wolfe.
In the 52ndDistrict, which is centered in Woodbridge and Dumfries, incumbent Del. Luke Torian, Prince William County’s most senior Democratic state lawmaker, faces a challenge from his left from newcomer Kevin Wade.
In the 87thDistrict, which includes parts of western Prince William and Loudoun counties, four newcomers are vying to replace Bell, who is running for state Senate. They include three attorneys -- Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer, Suhas Subramanyam, a technology and regulatory attorney, and Johanna Gusman, a human rights attorney, as well as a scientist, Akshay Bhamidipati.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors
Four of seven of Prince William County’s magisterial districts have Democratic contests in today’s primary.
In the Coles District, newcomers LaTonsha “L.T.” Pridgen and Raheel Sheikh are vying for their party’s nomination to take on Republican Yesli Vega, also a political newcomer, in November. The office is open because longtime Supervisor Marty Nohe opted to run for chairman of the board of supervisors this year but lost the GOP primary to John S. Gray in May.
In the Neabsco District, newly elected Supervisor Victor Angry, who won a special election in April to fill the late Supervisor John Jenkins’ term, faces a challenge from fellow Democrat Aracely Panameno. There is currently no Republican candidate in that race.
In the Occoquan District, two political newcomers are squaring off to face Supervisor Ruth Anderson, a Republican, in November. They are Kenny Boddye and Aaron Edmond.
In the Woodbridge District, Supervisor Frank Principi, who is now in his third term, faces a challenge from fellow Democrat Margaret Franklin. There is currently no Republican candidate in that race.
Polls are open until 7 p.m. To find your polling place, visitwww.pwcvotes.com