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July 17, 2018

English teacher campaigns for state Senate seat

Ronald J. “Ronnie” Ross has taught at Highland School in Warrenton since 2009.
One thing I’ve done my entire life is work hard. There’s no one that’s going to outwork me.
— Ronald J. Ross
Ronald J. Ross
• Age: 31

• Home: Near Middleburg in Loudoun County

• Work: English teacher and department chairman, Highland School, Warrenton, 2009-present.

• Family: Wife Josie and 10-month-old son.

• Education: Master’s degree, education, University of Pennsylvania, 2013; bachelor’s degree, English and philosophy, Wittenberg (Ohio) University, 2009; New Philadelphia (Ohio) High School, 2005.

• Organizations: Loudoun County Democratic Committee, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Arbor Day Foundation, 2017-present; American Civil Liberties Union, 2016-present.

• Hobbies: Running, hiking, reading, genealogical research, travel and playing and watching sports.

• Website:

• Facebook page: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Highland School English teacher considers education his life’s work.

“I love nothing more than helping young people learn and grow,” explained Ronald J. “Ronnie” Ross III.

But about three months ago while in the car with his wife Josie, an unexpected turn plunged Mr. Ross into the world of state politics.

“I was complaining about something or other on the radio,” recalled Mr. Ross, 31, who lives near Middleburg in Loudoun County. “I’ll never forget it.

“My wife looked at me and says, ‘Ronnie, for the love of God, stop complaining and do something about it’.”

He pressed her about options.

Run for elective office, she told him.

Taking her advice, Mr. Ross on July 2 announced he would seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 27th District in the Virginia Senate. The election will take place in November 2019.

The sprawling district includes Fauquier, Clarke and Frederick counties, the City of Winchester and parts of Loudoun, Culpeper and Stafford counties.

Three-term Republican incumbent Jill Holtzman Vogel of Upperville has represented the district since 2008. Virginia’s 40 senators serve four-year terms.

If he gets the Democratic nomination next June, Mr. Ross realizes it would be difficult to defeat Ms. Vogel in November 2019 general election.

Incumbency often translates into automatic, built-in advantages, he acknowledged.

Still, “I don’t think it’s about Jill Vogel so much as it is about the people of the 27th,” the Ohio native said of the campaign. “Technically, yes, I’m running against Jill Vogel. But more than that, I’m running for the people of the 27th. And the people of the 27th have some needs.”

The first-time candidate’s top issues range from education and the economy to health care and equality.

“Our teachers need help,” said Mr. Ross, noting that state lawmakers in 2018 approved a 3-percent pay hike for teachers. “But teacher pay, adjusted for inflation since 2010, has actually declined 7 percent.

“So while 3 percent is a good start, we have a lot more to do.”

The political newcomer also wants to focus on income disparity.

While the country has recovered strongly from “The Great Recession,” economic growth “hasn’t been evenly distributed,” said Mr. Ross, who moved to Virginia in 2009 to teach at Highland, “We’ve seen tremendous growth among the richest, but wages have been stagnant.”

Virginia’s decision this year to extend Medicaid insurance to more needy citizens represents a major achievement, he said.

But Mr. Ross, who lived in Warrenton for about six years before moving to Loudoun, also points out that the healthcare system doesn’t ensure access by all citizens to dental and mental health services, for example.

On matters of social justice, Mr. Ross believes Virginia should become the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

He also would back legislation and policies to increase “protections for sexual orientation and gender identity” related to employment, housing and access to public accommodations.

Ms. Vogel, founder and managing partner of a Warrenton-based law firm, for now has no knowledge of Mr. Ross.

But competition will make the campaign “interesting,” the 48-year-old Virginia native said. “That’s the democratic process. So, I’m not the least bit offended that somebody who is a Democrat is going to be in the race. I think it’s important to talk about the issues.”

Democrat Justin Fairfax defeated her in last November’s election for lieutenant governor. Mr. Fairfax received 52.8 percent of the statewide vote and Ms. Vogel 47.2 percent.

Kay Gibson of Warrenton has known Mr. Ross since about 2016.

They met through Highland School, where he taught Ms. Gibson’s daughter English for two years.

“His values are my values,” explained the 63-year-old retired office administrator for a Washington, D.C.-based audio-visual production company. “I’m a progressive, whether it be on healthcare issues, the economic situation, immigration issues.”

Mr. Ross also possesses “a lot of admirable characteristics,” she said. “He’s very genuine, a very focused person, a very trustworthy person.”

The candidate also strikes her as “approachable” and open to “thinking outside the box,” something he encouraged his students to do, Ms. Gibson said.

“He’s a very sincere, bright guy.”

Mr. Ross sounds optimistic about his political prospects.

“Last year, there were a lot of people who were thought foolish for running” for Virginia House of Delegates’ seats, he said. “They presented a vision, and they worked their butts off. And, they won.”

Democrats gained 15 delegate seats in the 2017 election. Republicans still maintain a two-vote advantage in the 100-member body.

“One thing I’ve done my entire life is work hard,” Mr. Ross added, who plans to juggle Highland teaching and legislative responsibilities, should he defeat his Republican rival. “There’s no one that’s going to outwork me.”
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workhardgetahead · July 20, 2018 at 2:22 pm
He says, Quote "One thing I’ve done my entire life is work hard". My question is then why is he a democrat?
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