ENDORSEMENTS

Endorsements for commonwealth’s attorneys in Northern Virginia
May 11, 2019

“In Arlington and Falls Church, incumbent Theo Stamos faces Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, a former public defender who is legal director of an innocence-protection organization. The contours of the race are similar to those in Fairfax, with Ms. Stamos being criticized for backward-thinking policies, but here we think criticism of Ms. Stamos — her arbitrary restrictions on the discovery process, overcharging of offenses and seeming tone-deafness to implicit bias in law enforcement — is accurate. Ms. Dehghani-Tafti offers a better choice. Her work on innocence protection gives her unique insights into the criminal-justice system and where improvements need to be made. She is right to want to treat rather than criminalize mental-health problems and drug addiction, and to prioritize crimes such as wage theft and elder abuse over petty, nonviolent offenses. Her experience has been in protecting innocent people from being wrongly convicted, but she recognizes the need to go after and lock up those who pose a real danger.”  Read the full endorsement

Former Governor
Terry McAuliffe

“I proudly endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Arlington and Falls Church City deserve a progressive, reform-minded Commonwealth’s Attorney who is committed to protecting all residents and improving outcomes for chronically underserved populations, which makes everyone safer.

Parisa understands that prosecutors must be even-handed, forward-looking, and open to new ideas and ways to make communities safe and promote justice for all. That’s why I am proud to endorse Parisa.”

Del. Marcus Simon

“I enthusiastically endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and the City of Falls Church. Her many years of experience fighting to right wrongs in the criminal justice system make her the best person to identify flaws in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and take bold and thoughtful action to fix them.  As Delegate for the City of Falls Church, I look forward to working with Parisa to build a fairer criminal justice system that represents our community’s values.”

Former State Senator
Mary Margaret Whipple

“I support Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney because she represents the values that our community strives to achieve. Here in Arlington and Falls Church, we don’t believe people should be in jail because they are poor, and yet there are people in our jail who simply can’t afford cash bail. We don’t believe people should be incarcerated because of their race, and yet 57% of those prosecuted for marijuana possession in the last two years are persons of color. We can do better and Parisa will do better, abolishing cash bail when the defendant qualifies and ending prosecution of simple possession of marijuana, so the office can concentrate on more serious crimes.

I was shocked when our current Commonwealth’s Attorney joined a lawsuit to challenge Governor McAuliffe’s ability to restore civil rights to felons who had completed all requirements of their sentences.  Fortunately, he was able to proceed and close to 200,000 persons in Virginia have had their rights restored.

We need to work harder to bend the arc of justice.  Parisa can help us do that.”

Arlington School Board Member
Nancy Van Doren

“Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is my choice for Commonwealth Attorney. Parisa understands the proper role of   families, schools, and law enforcement in the shaping of our youth.  She will ensure our children do not get caught in the criminal justice system due to law enforcement overreach.  Parisa also will work to ensure people with disabilities receive the services and treatment they need and that law enforcement understands and protects their rights.  Keeping the community safe is critical and is best achieved when just, fair, and equitable treatment is for all, particularly our most vulnerable.”

Former Federal Prosecutor/2017 Candidate for Lt. Gov. Gene Rossi

“For close to thirty years, I had a front row seat in our system of justice. I learned in those decades by training and working with thousands of prosecutors (federal and state) that we had incredible power and broad discretion. However, I also learned that although that daunting authority had to be used very aggressively at times to protect our communities and vulnerable victims, it had to be tempered by wisdom, fairness, and, equally important, compassion.  Parisa has exceptional intelligence and experience in criminal justice matters to infuse the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office with a sense of mission and purpose that will be bold, visionary, and inspirational. I proudly endorse Parisa.”

Former Chairman, Arlington County Board
J. Walter Tejada

“I’m proud to endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney. While serving on the Arlington County Board, I worked to make our local justice system fairer by establishing the Office of the Public Defender.  Parisa holds the same values as our community and will work to make our criminal justice system more effective, and keep us safe as our top prosecutor.”

Senator Adam Ebbin
(District 30)

“Keeping the community safe, helping victims and survivors heal, and ensuring public trust in the courts are keystone principles of an effective and humane criminal justice system.  Criminal justice reform has long been a focus of my legislative work.  We need a partner in Arlington and the City of Falls Church who will support legislation that provides meaningful protections for victims and survivors, while also giving a fair shot at a second chance to those who have paid their debt to society. Parisa is that partner. I am proud to endorse her.”

Del. Mark Levine

“Parisa understands that our safety and sense of security are of the same paramount importance to Arlingtonians as our disposition towards due process and equality under the law. I’m confident she will work to correct – but not shatter – the hapless defendant who is more trapped in life circumstances than dedicated to a life of crime. But I’m also satisfied she will have the full attention of the suffering crime victim seeking a restoration of justice.”

Read Del. Levine’s full statement here.

Former Arlington County Board Member
Mary Hynes

“I support Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney because Arlington’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office should be transparent and accountable.   I support punishing people who commit crimes BUT we should care enough to find out how Arlington’s criminal justice system is treating people in our community and assure ourselves that it is the bad actors who actually repay society.

As someone who spent 20 years in elected office, I believe that government agencies at all levels MUST regularly and transparently analyze and report out performance data. In Arlington’s criminal justice system, if preliminary results show us that Black people are six times more likely to be prosecuted for marijuana possession, or that rape complaints are going up but rape convictions are going down, and or that Arlington is incarcerating people at a higher rate than neighboring jurisdictions, we need to take action together to improve the situation in ways that ensure justice. But we can’t do that without the information.

I trust Parisa to collect, analyze and share data to identify issues in our system that need attention.  I know she will keep our community safe while also helping Arlington figure out how to best improve its criminal justice practices.”

Chris Zimmerman,
Former Arlington County Board Member

“In Arlington, we take a lot of pride in being an open and diverse community with progressive values.  Our elected officials should represent and endorse those values and that’s why I’m supporting Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney.  Parisa will bring transparency, fairness, and a modern, progressive approach to our courts and criminal justice system.  We’ve seen district attorneys across the country go from tough on crime tactics to smart on crime policies, and it’s time for our Commonwealth’s Attorney here in Arlington to  take up the mantle and become a leader in criminal justice reform- and Parisa is ready to do just that.”

Monique O’Grady,
Arlington School Board Member

“Fairness and equality are the cornerstones of our society and our criminal justice system should be reflective of these values.  When our system treats everyone, kids and adults, in a manner that balances accountability with fairness, everyone wins.  Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has the experience and vision to move our system forward and build on these values. I’m pleased to support her as our next Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

James Younger,
former Arlington Deputy Chief of Police/former prosecutor

“I’ve gotten to know Parisa over the course of the past year, and I’m struck by her sincerity, and her willingness to engage, and her sense of balance.  I believe that she can and will build bridges, work collaboratively with our law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders, protect victims and other vulnerable people, and do the hard work that is required.  Please join me on June 11th, in voting for the candidate who is truly committed to justice.”

Atima Omara
former Board Chair, Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington Action Fund

“As a past Board Chair of Planned Parenthood Metro Washington Action Fund, I believe that reproductive freedom is a human right, and it is essential that we elect leaders who will use their office to protect it.  Commonwealth Attorneys have a critical role to play in protecting reproductive freedom in an era when state legislatures across the country are passing strict abortion bans incompatible with Roe v. Wade.  District Attorneys nationwide are taking a stand by declaring that they will use their prosecutorial discretion and will not prosecute people who have abortions or perform abortions under these unconstitutional laws.  Until we have a solidly pro-choice majority in the Virginia General Assembly, these local commitments could be all the protection we have, and thus local elections matter a great deal to reproductive freedom.  That is one of the many reasons why I’m endorsing Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Arlington & Falls Church Commonwealth Attorney.

I’ve lived, worked, and been politically active in Arlington for over a decade. I’ve felt personally safe in this community, but I also know my skin color is a much bigger factor in my interactions with the criminal justice system than my ZIP code.  The bias in our criminal justice system against people of color, people with mental illness, and people in poverty is baked into our laws and our customs in Virginia, and even Arlington is not immune to such a pervasive threat.  We do have a higher incarceration rate of black people in Arlington jails that is disproportionate to their representation in the county. We do have a higher incarceration rate for those people with minor drug offenses.  We do prosecute a lot of petty offenses for young people and keep poor people in jail who cannot afford cash bail.  Leaders are the people who must recognize where we can do even better rather than denying there is a problem.  Every Commonwealth Attorney uses their prosecutorial discretion each and every day to choose where to deploy scarce resources.  I believe Parisa will make the right choices to make Arlington and Falls Church prosecutions more just.”

ORGANIZATIONS

Arlington Education Association
National Iranian American Council ACTION
SEIU - 32BJ
Our Revolution Northern Virginia

INDIVIDUALS

Kip Malinosky, Former Arlington Democrats Chair

Patrick and Patti Bogenberger

Charley Conrad

Chris Ota DeRosa

Deborah Elkinton

Carol Fontein

Jacki Wilson

Peg Hogan

Juliet Hiznay

Mark Riley

Eric Lotke

Heather and Erich Keppler

Nicole Lewis

Jessica Mott

Keith Oberg

Cindy Cunningham

Lisa Sockett and Andy Joskow

Kathleen Murray

Zakiya Worthey

Whytni Kernodle, Esq.

David Fitzgerald

Meredith Sumpter

John Chandler

Kevin Smith

Mark Teel

Steven and Megan Hauber

Michael Angeloni

Wilma Jones

Christine Searle

Deborah Bernick

Carol Burnett

Sue Carruthers

Roxaneh Chamlou

Jean Christensen

Arianna Zoghi

Tim Dempsey

Louis Drummond

Rose Pinon Fabia

Ann Felker

Laila Zoghi

Catherine Giovannoni

Michelle Woolley

Christine Gregory

Angela Hall

Alice Margaret Hogan

Herschel Kanter

Detta Kissel

Susan Landfield

Jennifer Mazarr

Chuck Morley

Sue Mosher

Maeve and John O’Higgins-Harris

Carmela Ormando

Kathleen McSweeney

Naomi Pena

Nick Penning

John and Carol Reeder

James Lander

Dolores and Gabe Rubalcava

Mark Riley

Gabriela Uro

Michael Rafky

Antelmo de Leon

John Ross

Bobby Rozen

Laura Saul Edwards

Kathy Jo Schwartz

Linda Staheli

Arlene Spinelli

Larry Spinelli

Elaine Squeri

Amy Stitzel

Ann Unitas

Naomi Verdugo

Eleanor Wilson

Joe Lowe

Susan Murphy

Jason Rylander

James Younger