By Alicia Plerhoples, published on The Blue View
I often tell my daughters that they are not growing up like I grew up. As a child, I experienced housing instability and food insecurity, just as many hardworking Fairfax County families do today. I was 9 when my father lost his job. Without his income, we were evicted from our home. I spent much of my fourth grade living in a motel room with my family. My mother was a special education teacher. My parents showered us with love and attention in the face of our circumstances.
My parents knew the importance of public education, the great equalizer. With the help of federal loans and a work-study job, I attended Harvard College, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs, and Yale Law School. My mother did not live to see any of my graduations – she died of cancer when I was 19.
I am running for chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors because there are two Fairfax Counties, divided by economic security and opportunity. I know those divides intimately and I will fight to close the gap. I am committed to making sure that all of our communities, from Mount Vernon to McLean, benefit from our county’s economic growth.
Fairfax County has 100,000 children living in poverty, 12,000 undocumented immigrants under deportation proceedings, and a wildly disproportionate number of African-Americans who are homeless. We are pushing residents out – seniors cannot afford to age in place, millennials cannot afford to return to where they grew up, and teachers, nurses, and county employees cannot afford to live where they work.
I have spent my legal career in areas that are critical to the future of Fairfax County – high tech and small business development, nonprofit social services, and real estate development. As a Georgetown law professor, I run a small public interest law center advising social enterprises, small businesses, and nonprofits. Prior to teaching, I was a real estate attorney at a major law firm in New York, and worked on the acquisition and development of large swaths of commercial real estate throughout the country.
Despite my real estate experience, I have pledged not to accept political contributions from real estate development companies. Why? Because our supervisors should be impartial when deciding how our county develops – everyone deserves a seat at the table, not just developers.
I am proud to call Fairfax County my home. The prior generation made an investment in our county – in our parks and open spaces, our public schools, our roads and transit, and our housing – to make it what it is today. We have failed to make those same investments for the next generation. I love my career as a law professor. It will be bittersweet to step away from it. But I feel a calling to serve our community, to lift up the most vulnerable among us, and to shape the future of Fairfax County into one that works for everyone and generations to come.
Alicia Plerhoples is running in the Democratic primary election on June 11 for chair of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors