A Bristow small business owner is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat held by Del. Lee Carter.
Michelle Maldonado, 52, is filing paperwork to challenge Carter, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, for the nomination in the 50th House District, which covers the city of Manassas and nearby parts of Prince William County.
Carter is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor and, like many candidates running for governor or lieutenant governor, is simultaneously running for another two-year term in the House of Delegates. If he wins the governorship, a special election would be held for his House of Delegates seat.
Maldonado is a native of the Cape Cod town of Falmouth, Mass. She received an undergraduate degree in Latin American studies and Spanish literature and language from Barnard College in New York before coming to Northern Virginia in 1993 to attend George Washington University Law School.
Maldonado said she was moved to make her first attempt at public office after she was “shook to my core” following a string of high-profile killings of Black people across the country in 2020, including George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, Ky., and Ahmaud Arbery by a group of white men in Georgia.
She said the racial strife brought out by the killings followed by the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 pushed her to serve.
“I couldn’t believe that it happened,” she said of the riot, which left five people dead and has led to hundreds of arrests. “It was in that moment I said I needed to do something.”
Maldonado wants to restore “dignity and respect in politics” through her campaign.
Maldonado’s campaign centers around investment in education and the economy. She supports more raises for teachers and increased resources in classrooms.
Maldonado supports Virginia's recent move to raise its minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, which she called a “good start.”
“No person should be working 40 hours a week and still be at, below or close to the poverty line,” she said.
As a small business owner, Maldonado said she understands the impact of increasing the wage on businesses and said it needs to include a graduated scale and be regularly adjusted for inflation.
Maldonado said improving the economy, wages and education ties into themes of equity and equality.
“We have to think about when we develop these things, when we grow these things, there’s an impact among various communities,” she said.
Carter won his first two-year term in 2017, knocking off six-term Republican incumbent and House Majority Whip Jackson Miller by almost nine points. Two years later, he held off challenges from two sitting Manassas City Council members, first beating Democrat Mark Wolfe in a primary, then defeating Republican Ian Lovejoy in the general election.
No independent or third-party candidates have announced plans to run in the district.
Party nominees will be chosen in primaries on June 8.