While Republicans held onto most of Loudoun’s constitutional offices on Tuesday, Democrats pried one seat out of Republican hands in a tight race between Republican and current Commonwealth’s Attorney M. Nicole Wittman and Democratic challenger Buta Biberaj.
Wittman, who has served as chief deputy attorney since 2012, was sworn into that office last week, to fill the two months remaining on Jim Plowman’s term following his appointment to a Circuit Court judgeship effective Nov. 1. She had hoped to hold the seat longer.
According to unofficial results, Biberaj beat Wittman by 2,208 votes, about 2 percent of the vote. That is within recount territory and is only slightly closer than the 1,946 votes that gave Plowman victory over Jennifer Wexton in 2015.
Biberaj credited the greater enthusiasm for her race to a desire for criminal justice reform.
“I think it’s because everybody’s trying to take a different approach to what criminal justice means, the fact that we’re all cognizant from the community perspective of safety and justice,” Biberaj said. “We have a lot of people who have been in that office for an extended period of time who tap fear, fear, fear, and who suggest that if you try to incorporate justice, then you’re going to make the community unsafe, and that’s not the case.”
She said her first job will be to gather data about the office’s work.
“We want to have the data to show how are we running that office, what charges we’re prosecuting, what is the harm to the community, and where can we use our resources so that we’re protecting the community,” Biberaj said.
Meanwhile, Republicans held onto the other constitutional offices. Sheriff Michael L. “Mike” Chapman, Commissioner of the Revenue Robert S. “Bob” Wertz Jr., and Treasurer H. Roger Zurn Jr. will all keep their jobs.
Of those, Zurn, Loudoun’s longest-serving elected official, posted the strongest result. He finished ahead of Democratic challenger Kannan Srinivasan 60,952 to 44,459, a 15-percentage-point spread. It will be Zurn’s seventh four-year term as treasurer. His political service began in 1990 as a Sterling District supervisor.
Chapman beat back a challenge from Democrat Justin P. Hannah 57,735 votes to 47,362, a difference of nearly 10 percentage points, to win a third four-year term.
Wertz won re-election over Democrat Sri S. Amudhanar 58,272 to 46,544, a difference of nearly 11 percentage points. It will be Wertz’s fifth term. He ran unopposed for his previous three re-election bids.
Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens has an eight-year term and did not face election this year.