Reed, Dent and Nasser Alsaadun win council primary, while Chris Jones is out

Mayor Deanna Reed at a Harrisonburg City Council meeting on Sept. 24, 2019. Reed was once again the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and secured one of three oof the party’s nominations for the November general election. (File photo)

Mayor Deanna Reed and Vice Mayor Laura Dent cruised to secure two of the three Democratic nominations for city council, while newcomer Nasser A. Alsaadun won the third spot in the November general election.

Reed was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Democratic council primary with 777 votes, followed by Dent with 718. Alsaadun, who owns the Babylon store, secured the third spot in the November election with 655 votes.

That means longtime council member Chris Jones won’t have a chance to win another term on council, ending his decade-long tenure. Jones finished fifth in the Democratic primary with 363 votes behind Kathy Beery, a former state senate candidate, who had 591 votes.

Chris Jones

Jones was first elected in 2014 and served a two-year term as mayor. During his time on the council, Jones frequently advocated for diversity and equal opportunity across the city, including infrastructure investments in the historically Black Northeast Neighborhood as well as support for businesses owned by people of color.

Jones lost in the 2022 city council Democratic caucus to Deny Fleming and Monica Robinson, who went on to win seats that November. But Jones also remained on the council by winning a special election later that summer to fill the seat vacated by Councilman George Hirschmann.

Outside of the council chambers, controversy seemed to follow him. He was arrested last May on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, although he ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of improper driving. He also got into a back-and-forth with city school officials last fall over remarks Jones made to a school employee that top school officials called “bullying.”

Jones’ term runs through the end of 2024.

November’s council race takes shape

Reed, Dent, and Alsaadun will move on to the general election in November.

Reed is seeking to win her third term in November. She has served as mayor since January 2019  — which was halfway through her first term.

Dent was first elected in 2020 and is in her second year as vice mayor.

Alsaadun is a political newcomer. In addition to being a business owner, Alsaadun is a former interpreter for the U.S. Army who moved from his native Iraq as a refugee in 2008 and settled in Harrisonburg. He has volunteered for local organizations, including the Refugee Resettlement office and Valley Interfaith Action.

Only one other candidate — Javier Calleja — filed paperwork to run as an independent in the city council race, according to Director of Elections Mark Finks. The deadline to file for that race was Tuesday 7 p.m. 

U.S. Senate candidates and school board candidates gear up for November

U.S. Navy Capt. Hung Cao, is projected to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, beating out four other candidates. Cao also won the majority of the votes cast in Harrisonburg for that race and will face off against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine in November. 

Finks also told The Citizen that four people have filed to run for the Harrisonburg City School Board: Tim Howley and Matt Snyder, whom The Citizen first reported were candidates. School board member Kaylene Seigle is seeking re-election. And a fourth candidate, Hazzar Pastor Perdomo, also has filed. 

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