From her presidency of Virginia Young Democrats (the first woman to hold the post) more than four decades ago, right through the present day, Sharon Davis has stayed true to her political beliefs.
And on Sept. 26, the Arlington County Democratic Committee honored the longtime activist as its 2020 Senior Democrat of the Year.
Davis “is one of the most resilient and remarkable people I have ever known,” said former Clerk of the Circuit Court David Bell, speaking to nearly 100 people in a ceremony-cum-celebration held “virtually” due to public-health conditions.
Bell went on to praise Davis’s efforts not simply in Democratic politics, but also in education and the nurturing of young people, and celebrated her “magnificent grace and fortitude.”
It was the type of accolade that rang out again and again during the event.
James Almand, a former state delegate and retired Circuit Court judge who like Davis is an Arlington native, praised her “extraordinary service and Democratic ideals.”
Over the years, “we rejoiced in each other’s successes and mourned each other’s losses,” Almand said.
Another former state delegate, Bob Brink, recalled from decades back that he was working on a congressional committee out of the Rayburn House Office Building, where Davis also toiled, but had never run across her until the legendary Arlington Democratic activist/organizer Lucy Denney decreed he must seek Davis out.
“You always did exactly what Lucy told you do to,” noted Brink, who now chairs the Virginia State Board of Elections.
The result was an enduring friendship. “Our families grew up together,” Brink said.
A special guest at the event was U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who described Davis as “one of those people everyone knows they can count on.”
Dingell was married to the late U.S. Rep. John Dingell, ultra-powerful chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Davis long has served as clerk to that committee when Democrats have held the majority.
“She knew my husband longer than I did,” Debbie Dingell said, praising Davis’s service to the committee, now chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.).
“She has just been the glue,” Dingell said. “She did everything; she knew everything.”
Perhaps the most appreciated comment of the afternoon might have come from Susan Prokop, who in 1975 met Davis while attending her first meeting of the Arlington Young Democrats, where Davis had ascended the ranks of leadership.
“She was one of the ‘cool kids’ – knew all the issues,” Prokop remembered.
Through the years, Prokop said, Davis stayed involved through “tireless civic advocacy” and her compassion for others.
“Sharon will always be one of the ‘cool kids,’” she said.
Twice, Davis came within a hair’s breadth of winning local elected office – she lost a very close race to David Foster for School Board in 1999 and then, a few years later, was narrowly defeated by Sally Baird in a Democratic School Board caucus.
Davis in 1976 married Albert Eisenberg, who later went on to serve stints on the County Board and House of Delegates but who, in recent years, has been afflicted with cognitive challenges.
“She’s been a rock to our family,” said their younger son, Alex Eisenberg. “She’s been there for us.”
“We grew up into Virginia politics,” added his older brother, Matthew. Over time, he said, “I’ve realized how much of a superwoman my mother is.”
The festivities were organized by the trio of Prokop, Paul Ruiz and former state Del. Karen Darner. (Davis managed multiple Darner campaigns, and “she has stamina beyond belief,” Darner said.)
The Arlington County Democratic Committee some years back added the salute to a senior Democrat to its fall repertoire of events. It is designed “to honor those who have have helped Arlington become the progressive community we all love,” said state Sen. Barbara Favola, who emceed the 2020 program.
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