McKay, Lusk, Descano winners in straw poll

Rodney Lusk talking with two men
Lee District supervisor candidate Rodney Lusk, center, talks with attendees at Saturday night’s straw poll at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church.

Board of Supervisors chairman candidate Jeff McKay edged Alicia Plerhoples in a straw poll held by the Mount Vernon District Democrat Committee on Saturday, while Rodney Lusk topped the poll for Lee District supervisor.

Steve Descano, the challenger in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race, scored a convincing win against incumbent Ray Morrogh. In the race for three at-large seats on the Fairfax County School Board, Karen Keys-Gamarra, Rachna Sizemore Heizer and Abrar Omeish finished highest.

Board of Supervisors chairman candidate Jeff McKay and Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Steve Descano shake hands after the results were announced.

The straw poll, held at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, was the first of the year held by the Fairfax County Democrats. Although the event was organized by the Mount Vernon District Democrats, anyone who paid admission was eligible to vote. A county-wide straw poll for Democrat candidates will be held March 31.

According to final results released by the Mount Vernon District Democrats, 193 people voted in the chairman’s race, while 194 voted in the Commonwealth’s Attorney Race.

So far no Republican candidates have declared for any of the races polled at Saturday’s event.

At-large school board candidate Abrar Omeish poses for a picture with Mount Vernon resident Pete Sitnik.

Candidates who attended Saturday’s event gave two-minute speeches at the beginning of the event, and those can be viewed on

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Race

  • Jeff McKay — 48.7 percent
  • Alicia Plerhoples — 43.5 percent
  • Ryan McAlveen — 5.2 percent
  • Tim Chapman — 2.5 percent

McKay, who has served as Lee District supervisor since 2008, topped Plerhoples by 10 votes in what has become a crowded Democratic primary. Plerhoples, a McLean resident who is a law professor at Georgetown University, entered the race on Feb. 15 after initially running as a school board candidate in Dranesville District.

Both McKay and Plerhoples far outpaced the other two chairman candidates, Ryan McAlveen and Tim Chapman. McAlveen, an at-large school board member, got 10 votes while Chapman, former chair of the Virginia Housing Development Authority, received five votes.

Lee District Supervisor’s Race

  • Rodney Lusk — 41.4 percent
  • Kelly Hebron — 23.4 percent
  • Larysa Kautz — 21.6 percent
  • James Migliaccio — 13.6 percent

Lusk, who works as marketing director for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, received 67 votes. Kelly Hebron, a lawyer and professor at Northern Virginia Community College, finished second with 38 votes. Groveton resident and non-profit executive Larysa Kautz finished third with 35 votes, and Lee District Planning Commissioner James Migliaccio came in fourth with 22 votes.

“Mount Vernon and Lee District are so closely tied,” Lusk said in a statement released after the poll. “We commute Route 1, visit the same parks, shop at the same stores, and many of our children attend the same schools. That’s why I’m so honored and humbled by tonight’s result.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Race

  • Steve Descano — 69 percent
  • Ray Morrogh — 31 percent

Descano, a former federal prosecutor, won convincingly over incumbent Ray Morrough. This is the first primary challenge for Morrogh since he was elected in 2007.

“We have the momentum and the grassroots support to bring our progressive values into our criminal justice system,” Descano tweeted after the poll. “Mount Vernon knows we need change. Fairfax County knows we need change. Together, we can make a difference on June 11th [primary day] and every day that I’m your Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

At-Large School Board Race

  • Karen Keys-Gamarra — 32.7 percent
  • Rachna Sizemore Heizer — 24.7 percent
  • Abrar Omeish — 23.4 percent
  • Ilryong Moon — 19.4 percent

School board candidates do not run with party affiliations. There are three at-large positions on the board, and so far four candidate have declared — two incumbents and two newcomers.

At-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra, who was elected in a special election in the summer of 2017, topped the field in Saturday’s poll. Longtime member Ilryong Moon, who has served as the board chairman in the past, came in behind newcomers Abrar Omeish and Rachna Sizemore Heizer.

Mount Vernon district school board representative Karen Corbett Sanders is running unopposed so far, as is Lee District school board representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax. No poll was held for either race.


  1. Will Radle