Veteran | Business Owner | Civil Rights Leader | Small Business Owner | Immigrant
I am Kofi Annan, and I humbly ask for your vote to represent the 86th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. My wife, Shareem, and I have been married for 17 years, and together we’ve raised two teenage boys, currently enrolled in Herndon High School. I’m running for this office because I believe I have a track record of being an effective catalyst for positive change in our communities in and around Fairfax County, and I believe I have what it takes to do the same in our state legislature. There has never been a time in recent history when the voice of a civil rights leader, who is also an immigrant, could provide more value added in Richmond.
My bid for office is a continuation of my lifelong dedication to public service. I joined the U.S. Army Reserves directly after graduating high school, and following the 9/11 attacks I was compelled to serve an even greater role in protecting our nation. Therefore, I enlisted active duty as an intelligence analyst in the Army in the Fall of 2001. I went on to serve in Iraq, where I led a team credited for disrupting several terrorist groups, and was subsequently awarded the U.S. Army Achievement Medal, among other commendations. After leaving the Army I continued my service to our nation by joining the Defense Intelligence Agency, where I spent most of my tenure in the strategic planning and counterterrorism fields, including a deployment to Afghanistan.
Civil Rights Leader
After being elected president of the Fairfax County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 2016, I embarked on a mission to revamp the way the branch operated to make it more active in our community. In less than two years, the branch led a successful campaign to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School, which later became Justice High School. We worked with school officials to restructure the Fairfax County Public School teacher hiring process to reduce the likelihood of discrimination. We revised the county’s School Resource Officer program to make it more fair and transparent; worked to limit the county’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and helped secure additional funds for early childhood education for low income children. In addition to these impacts in our public schools, we hosted dozens of community educational programs around issues of healthcare, education, criminal justice, economic development, and voter education. As a result of this important work, our branch was awarded the Thalheimer Award, the National NAACP top recognition for its most outstanding advocacy.
Small Business Owner
In addition to my passion for community service, I also have a passion for business. After leaving the Army, my wife and I started a rental property business in 2009, and we founded Veteran Career Counseling Services LLC in 2012, a company that helped over 700 veterans find meaningful employment.
Protect Undocumented Immigrant Rights
Immigrant families should not be persecuted under xenophobic and racist policies. I understand the passion that drives immigrant families and their concerns better than my opponents, because I too am an immigrant. I will fight tirelessly to promote measures that protect the rights and dignity of undocumented immigrant families. As president of the Fairfax County NAACP, I successfully lobbied to end the practice of holding incarcerated undocumented immigrants beyond their scheduled release date.
Support our Unions
Wages are higher, workplaces are safer, and benefits are better because of unions, and I reject any attempt to weaken them by extending Virginia’s Right to Work Laws. While I wholeheartedly believe that a $15 per hour minimum wage is worth fighting for, I believe it is also important to strengthen our unions’ ability to negotiate salaries.
Encourage women, minority and veteran owned small business growth
As a small business owner, I have first-hand knowledge of the challenges minorities, women, and veterans face when starting a business. I will leverage those experiences to guide my efforts to increase the number of small businesses in our region. It’s not only beneficial for these segments of our community, but for the state as a whole.
Increase Minimum Wage
The fact that many of our residents are forced to live on a measly $7.25 per hour is nothing short of a travesty. As your delegate I would fight to raise wages and make them adjustable based on the cost of living. Putting more money in the hands of our working poor benefits us all in the long-term because it not only increases their spending power, but also reduces the chances that they may have to turn to public assistance to offset our area’s high cost of living.
Improve our Education
Between 2000 and 2018 Virginia teachers’ salaries went down by 8%. We should adopt the goal of increasing teacher pay by 10% over the next 5 years. We are destined to struggle to attract quality teachers or retain the ones we do have unless we make a concerted effort to make our pay more competitive. As our region becomes more populated with people of diverse incomes and cultures, our school systems should also be better prepared to meet these challenges. One of my signature accomplishment while serving as the president of the Fairfax County NAACP was getting the county to fully fund a study to determine what it would take to cover all low-income children in the county; and I would fight to do the same in Richmond.
Promote Criminal Justice Reform
Virginia spends over $800 million of our hard earned tax dollars to incarcerate almost 40,000 individuals on average per year. While serving as both the Fairfax County NAACP and the Virginia State Conference NAACP Criminal Justice Chairs, I fought tirelessly to reform both local and state laws, policies and practices to reverse the horrendous policies linked to the failed “War on Drugs”. I’ve worked with both local and statewide legislators to promote criminal justice reform, and as your delegate I will continue to make this a top priority.
Reduce Hate Crimes
Since 2016 hate crimes have increased 47 percent nationally. The horrible event in Charlottesville which led to the death of Heather Heyer, in addition to several acts of vandalism, and bomb threats against Northern Virginia religious institutions are stark reminders that our citizens are more vulnerable to acts of hate and terrorism than ever. Over the past two years I’ve worked directly with the Office of the Attorney General and state delegates to pass anti-hate crime legislation.
Twenty-two states have decriminalized the use of marijuana, and it is time for Virginia to follow suit. Not only is marijuana relatively harmless, its medicinal benefits have been well documented. As the ongoing opioid epidemic has shown us, anyone can fall susceptible to drug addiction for a variety of reasons, and piling on criminal charges to only serve to overburden our already strained justice system.
Expand Affordable Housing
Despite the unprecedented economic growth our region has experienced in the past decade, little attention has been paid to ensuring that this growth is sustainable, and that it is generating equitable outcomes. As we fail to adequately address the issue, our poor and working class citizens will continue to be pushed further and further out. Many of our teachers, first responders, and service sector workers are already fighting to make ends meet, and we owe it to them to ensure they can afford to remain in our communities.
Protect the Environment
Taking steps to protect the environment and slow down climate change is a top priority and that why I’ve teamed up with groups like the Sierra Club to advocate for sustainable energy solutions. I oppose the the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Vailly pipelines for both moral and economic reasons. Not only is it harmful to the environment, but the number of jobs it would create pales in comparison to the number of green jobs we stand to make if we decide to invest more in bolstering these industries.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Mayor of Herndon
Chairman, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
Sterling District, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
Fairfax County School Board
Fairfax County School Board