Meet the Candidates for Fairfax County Board Chairman

Four to contend in June 11 Democratic Primary to seek to replace retiring Sharon Bulova.

As chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova prepares to retire at the end of the year, four Democrats have come forward, looking to fill her spot as the county’s top elected official. With multiple candidates, election rules call for a Primary Election to decide a winner who will go on to the November 5 ballot, when all of the Board member seats will be up for grabs.

Vying for the position are:

  • Current Lee District Supervisor Jeff C. McKay, who has served on the board since 2007.

  • Ryan McElveen, at-large member, Fairfax County Public Schools board since 2012.

  • Tim Chapman, Reston-based real estate developer and businessmen

  • Alicia Plerhoples, tenured law professor at Georgetown Law.

Connection Newspapers sent out identical questionnaires to all four, asking each to provide voters with some basic information about themselves, and then to explain why they are running, what they see as the top issues facing the county, and in what key ways they differ from their opponents.

Here are their responses:

Name: Jeffrey C. McKay

Age: 43

Education: James Madison University (1996), Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership (1998)

Family: Wife, Crystal, children Leann and Aidan, retired racing greyhound Pascal.

Native of: Fairfax County

Moved to Your District: Lifelong Lee District resident

Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement, etc.:

  • Fairfax County Board of Supervisors – Lee District

  • Chairman, Budget Committee, Board of Supervisors

  • Chairman, Legislative Committee

  • Co-Chair, Revitalization Committee

  • Member, Successful Children and Youth Policy Team

  • Member, Northern Virginia Regional Commission

  • Member, Virginia Railway Express Board

  • First VP, Virginia Assoc. of Counties Board of Directors

  • Two-time former Chair, current Member, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

  • Coach, Woodlawn Little League, Pioneer Baseball League, Mount Vernon Sports Club

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am a lifelong Fairfax County resident, proudly born and raised along the Route One Corridor. From an early age, my grandmother instilled in me the importance of helping others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves. Those teachings, combined with my own experiences … are the reasons why I ultimately sought public office.

I am running for Chairman this year to build on the successes we’ve had and to push us forward … I’m proud of Fairfax County and the community we’ve built together. Now, more than ever, those values we’ve instilled and the work we’ve done are at risk. We need to fight for all residents and communities throughout our county.

Q: What are the top issues in your district and what solutions do you propose?


  • Creating a Fairfax County that works for all (One Fairfax)

  • Investing in people by supporting the environment, affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, and education

  • Creating jobs and economic opportunities in all areas of the county

Q: Key ways you differ from your opponents.

A: Having served on the Board of Supervisors for the past 11 years, I am the only candidate with Board experience and who has been a state, regional and countywide leader. I’ve balanced budgets and created countywide legislative agendas that have made us a progressive national leader in education, job growth, human services, and quality of life, while also ensuring we’re protecting our environment and fighting for affordable housing.

I have the knowledge, experience, and relationships it takes to be a successful chairman, and I am excited for the opportunity before us.

Name: Ryan McElveen

Age: 33

Education: Columbia University, Master of International Affairs in Human Rights (2011); Univ. of Virginia, B.A. Anthropology and East Asian Studies (2008); George C. Marshall High School (2004)

Family: Wife Xuan, daughter Sierra

Native of: Raised in the Vienna-Tysons area

Moved to Your District: Lifelong resident of Fairfax County

Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement, etc.:

  • At-large Member, Fairfax County School Board 2012-Present

  • Assoc. Director, John L. Thornton China Center, the Brookings Institution, 2013 - Present

  • International Operations and Policy, the Boeing Company

  • Co-Chair, Revitalization Committee, FC Board of Supervisors.

  • Communications, Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative

  • Researcher, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Senate

  • Asst. Director, Univ. of Virginia Center in Shanghai, China

Q: Why are you running?

A: After spending the better part of my time on the School Board as witness to chronically underfunded school system budgets, I decided to run for Chairman when I realized that there was no one else in the race who would be as strong an advocate for our schools and children as I would be.

Since January, I have been saying that we are two Fairfaxes. The development patterns that have been promoted by past Boards of Supervisors have led to the stark divides between the “haves” and “have nots” in Fairfax County. …

We need to turn our attention to the areas and populations that will benefit from neither Amazon and a growing tech sector nor higher property values. All of our residents need to have a voice. I will purposefully work to narrow that gap and provide more seats at the table, making sure that our diverse community is better represented by our leadership.

Q: What are the top issues in your district and what solutions do you propose?

A: The three most important issues and opportunities that Fairfax needs to address are in the areas of education, innovation and opportunity.

  • Education: We need to fully fund our schools and implement universal pre-Kindergarten so that our students enter school ready to succeed.

  • Innovation: We need to connect all residents to the internet; create transportation networks that accommodate expanded public transit and electric and autonomous vehicles; and preserve green space while investing in a green infrastructure that pushes Fairfax toward a carbon-neutral future.

  • Opportunity: We need to prepare our community members for the jobs of the future by creating apprenticeships and building innovation labs in schools; develop small-business incubators in vacant office space; and build affordable housing throughout our community.

Q: Key ways you differ from your opponents.

A: I am the only candidate in this race who has experience as an elected official representing all Fairfax residents and overseeing 53 percent of the county budget as a School Board member. I am also the only candidate who, through years of working in international business and think tank environments, has built global networks that can help our county become a model for international business development and investment. Perhaps most importantly, I am an outsider to the Board of Supervisors.

My roles as a FCPS graduate, a Fairfax parent, a School Board member, a global thinker and candidate for Chair have one thread: a dedication to the county that I love. I want to make sure everyone who calls this place home is able to give back to it as I have sought to do and achieve the American Dream.

Name: Alicia Plerhoples


Education: Harvard College (B.A.); Yale Law School (J.D.); Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School (M.P.A)

Family: Daughters

Native of:

Moved to Your District:

Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement, etc.:

  • Tenured law professor, Georgetown Law

  • Founder of a public interest law center, advising small businesses, social enterprises, startups and nonprofits

  • Formerly a corporate finance attorney at Cooley LLP

  • Formerly a real estate finance attorney at DLA Piper LLP

  • Recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2017 Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer Award

  • Elected member of the Governing Board of the McLean Community Center

  • PTA president at daughters’ public school

  • Member, FCPS Board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running to improve the quality of life for every Fairfax County resident. I see other municipalities passing us by, whether on environmental action, public transit, living wages, affordable housing, or educational investment.

Q: What are the top issues in your district and what solutions do you propose:

  • To foster liveable, affordable communities where people who work here can afford to live here

  • To develop a vibrant economy that creates quality jobs and restores a clean, sustainable environment

  • To ensure our high quality public schools meet the needs of students in every part of the county, no matter one’s zip code.

Q: Key ways you differ from your opponents?

A: I am the only candidate committed to putting voters first by refusing to accept political contributions from real estate developers. That is a conflict of interest.

I am the only lawyer, experienced in bringing private sector, small business to the table.

Name: Tim Chapman


Education: Emerson High School

Family: Wife, Julianna, 5 children

Native of: Maryland

Moved to Your District: 2005

Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement, etc.:

  • Real Estate developer

  • Appointee to Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) by Gov. McAuliffe

  • Elected Chair of VHDA. During my tenure at the VHDA, I helped invest billions of dollars into affordable housing projects, and helped thousands of families buy their first homes.

  • Board member homeless shelter in Washington, D.C.

  • Veteran United States Army Presidential Guard

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running for Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors because I want to extend the opportunities for success I’ve had to all of our Fairfax County neighbors. I love living in Fairfax County, but our community, like the bottom side of a pancake, is not perfect. We are one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, but deep-rooted inequality remains.

These inequalities are rooted in a closed political system that for decades has served only the wealthy and well-connected … stifling competition from outsiders and has relegated the Board of Supervisors to a land use and zoning review board. We can do better.

I want to give a voice to the working class families and underserved communities in Fairfax County, and to address problems that affect everyone. Together, we can create a more equitable prosperity in Fairfax County.

Q: Key ways you differ from your opponents?


  • Background in business, development and managing large enterprises

  • I’m no stranger to hard work. My mother and I were homeless for a portion of my childhood. You don’t go from youth homelessness to managing a $13 billion agency overnight. I have spent my life building things, solving problems, and serving my community.

  • I have the real world experience that it will take to help Fairfax County move forward, and I am prepared to take my service to a new level as Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

  • I have spent my career building affordable housing … with the VHDA we made it possible for thousands of moderate income Virginians to buy a home. These experiences uniquely position me to lead Fairfax County towards a brighter future.

Note: Tim Chapman’s responses to the questionnaire were not received by press time. The information above is taken from his campaign website at

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