Woodbridge resident Briana Sewell has announced her candidacy for the 51st House of Delegates' seat currently held by Del. Hala Ayala, who is not seeking re-election to vie for the Democratic nomination in the lieutenant governor's race.
Sewell, 30, is a Democrat and the first candidate to announce a bid for the seat. No Republican candidates had filed as of Wednesday morning.
Sewell currently serves as chief of staff to Prince William County at-large Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler. Before that, she was the political director and senior organizer for the Virginia Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, an advocacy group pushing for paid family and medical leave in Virginia.
Sewell said in a press release Wednesday that, as a public servant, she “has listened and responded to the concerns of the people of the 51st District for the entirety of her professional life.”
“I’m in this race because I want to continue to build on the important work in Richmond and be a voice for the 51st District,” Sewell said. “That means strengthening our public schools, improving resources for service members, fighting for affordable health care, investing in transportation and working to ensure economic prosperity for all.”
Sewell served as U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly's Prince William County district director from 2014 to 2018.
“I know she'll bring that same energy, tenacity, and enthusiasm to the House of Delegates. I'm proud to support Briana for Delegate and urge everyone in the 51st District to do the same,” Connolly said in Sewell's news release.
Sewell also announced a long list of endorsements Wednesday, including those of state Sens. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, Scott Surovell, D-36th, George Barker, D-39th, House Appropriations Chair Del. Luke Torian, D-52nd and Ayala.
“I am proud to endorse Briana Sewell for the 51st House District," Ayala said in a statement included in Sewell's press release.
"I’ve watched Briana grow as a leader in this community and I know she will be a champion for the 51st District. In Richmond, she will continue to move Virginia forward and fight for working families.”
Ayala was first elected to the 51st House of Delegates district in 2017 and re-elected to the seat in 2019.
Sewell grew up in Woodbridge in a military family. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the College of William and Mary and a master's degree in public administration from American University.