The Manassas City Council announced Monday night that David Farajollahi, a Congressional liaison at the U.S. Geological Survey and local Democratic committee board member, will take Michelle Davis-Younger’s seat when she becomes mayor in January.
The council can’t formally vote on the selection until Davis-Younger is sworn in and her seat opens up Jan. 4, but the council made the decision in a closed session Dec. 9 after a two-part interview process with Farajollahi and the other applicants for the seat. Councilmembers decided to withhold on announcing the selection until Monday to allow for them to contact the other applicants.
Farajollahi, who grew up in Lorton, moved to Manassas in 2019 with his wife, Patricia, and their daughter. According to his LinkedIn profile, Farajollahi worked in constituent service for both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before starting at the USGS in 2018. Living elsewhere in Northern Virginia, he told InsideNoVa that he realized over time that Manassas was the kind of place he wanted to put down roots.
“I’ve been watching Manassas since 2010 … to me it just screams Main Street U.S.A. I don’t know, it’s just something about downtown and Old Town and the surrounding areas, there’s a good work-life balance in the area,” Farajollahi said last week before he’d been selected. “Something screamed to me and I liked what the council had been doing with respect to schools, education. Just thinking the city is on the upswing.”
After short presentations from all 16 people who applied for the upcoming vacancy on Dec. 7, the council narrowed the field to four and brought them back for more in-depth interviews last Wednesday.
At that meeting, Farajollahi highlighted his experience working in the federal government and said he would be a strong advocate for the increased funding of city schools. Farajollahi and Democrat Tom Osina, who narrowly edged Republican incumbent Ian Lovejoy for the final open seat in the November election, will join the council in the midst of budget season.
“I’m not scared to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I don’t shy away from difficult conversations or issues, I believe that it’s actually in the best interest to just attack them head on,” Farajollahi told the council. “... I believe strongly in supporting our school system here in the city. I do applaud the council’s 3% increase in the FY20 budget over the previous year … I would at bare minimum like to see that remain or increase.”
In order to say how he’d propose to pay for the increase, he said he’d need a deeper look at the city’s current budget situation. Farajollahi, who will be appointed on an interim basis, also told the council that he would strongly consider running for the seat when it opens up next November.
When Farajollahi takes his seat in January, the council will be as Democratic as it’s ever been, with Davis-Younger -- soon to be the city’s first Black, woman and Democratic mayor -- presiding over a 4-1 majority on the body. The lone Republican will be the person Davis-Younger beat out in November to win the mayor’s seat, Theresa Coates-Ellis. Three-term Republican Mayor Hal Parrish declined to run for re-election in 2020.
Last week, Davis-Younger said she was strongly considering supporting Farajollahi’s bid after getting to know him in his work on the city’s Social Services Advisory Board. Farajollahi has also expressed interest in creating a formal Interfaith council in the city that coordinates with the city’s Department of Social Services.
“I’ve been working with him for a while, I appointed him to the social services board and he’s done a bang-up job there, just a phenomenal person,” Davis-Younger said. “He has a really good way of taking the lead with some things and running with it, he’s very in tune to the political climate. He’s a young guy who moved to the city. He picked Manassas because he liked what he saw.”