FAIRFAX, Va. — Civic engagement strategist Catherine Read declared victory Tuesday night, making her the first woman to be elected as the mayor of Fairfax.
Read's win comes after a contentious battle with Fairfax Councilmember Sang Yi.
"Representation matters. People want to see their government reflect their community," said Read to WUSA9 as she sat on her porch for her first televised interview since her victory. Although she did not emphasize the historic nature of her win, Read acknowledges the importance of a woman holding the executive role in a city with around 24,500 residents.
With eight of the nine precincts reporting nearly 9,400 votes tabulated, Read received 4,757 votes to Yi's 4,639.
The mayoral race in Fairfax garnered the attention of both parties once Governor Glenn Youngkin's agenda became part of the local debate.
"People are like, don't nationalize local elections. I'll take on two of those, the first abortion access," said Read who expressed her concern regarding the growing number of states that are pushing abortion bans, which she says forces municipalities to approve local legislation that protects access to these services.
Read is also pushing back on Youngkin's policies that strip away the rights of transgender students in Virginia telling WUSA9, "There are other transgender kids here in Fairfax County and we need to protect those children."
Under Youngkin's "model policies," all school systems in the Commonwealth of Virginia must adopt guidelines that limit transgender students to activities and facilities based on their sex assigned at birth.
A student would also need parental or guardian consent if they decide to change their name, gender, or use of pronouns inside a Virginia school. Also if the student decided to change their name and gender in school records, the family of said student would have to provide the proper legal paperwork.
As the City of Fairfax prepares for improvements in schools, Read is a proponent of gender neutral bathrooms.
Among Read's priorities are improving housing opportunities, transportation services in the city as well as making it more accessible in general for pedestrians, "there are lots of places that just don't have sidewalks."
Read says she also supports the construction of public bathrooms in the city's park, a proposal that she admits has gotten some push back.
The mayor elect says she will be making decisions for the city based on what will be best for residents now and fifty years from now. "How do our investments decisions today impact the quality of live for decades afterwards," said Read.
The close race led to friction in the Northern Virginia city. When asked what Read plans to do to gain the approval of Yi's supporters, she responded, "While consensus is a wonderful thing, it doesn't always bring you to the best conclusion. Sometimes you really do need people to say this is not a good idea, and for people to respect that and hear that."
Read is set to take office on January 1, 2023.