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April 16, 2019

Galante seeks Democratic nomination in 18th District

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“I would not have thrown my hat into the ring, if I thought it was impossible,” says Laura Galante.
She strikes me as very intelligent and progressive in her view of job creation, without sacrificing rural beauty and character.
— Nigel Ogilvie
Laura Leigh Galante
• Age: 33

• Home: Near Marshall

• Office sought: 18th District seat, Virginia House of Delegates.

• Party: Democratic.

• Work: Founder/owner, Galante Strategies LLC, cybersecurity consulting firm, 2017-present.

• Experience: Director of global intelligence, FireEye, Reston, 2013-17; strategic intelligence manager, Mandiant, Alexandria, 2012-2013; senior intelligence analyst, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.,2009-2012.

• Education: Law degree, Catholic (Washington, D.C.) University of America, 2011; bachelor’s degree, foreign affairs and Italian, University of Virginia, 2006; James W. Robinson Jr. Secondary School, Fairfax, 2003.

• Organizations: Board member, Safeguard Cyber, Charlottesville, 2018-present; leader, Piedmont 4-H Cloverbuds, 2018-present; senior fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Washington, D.C., 2017-present; board member, Northern Virginia 4-H Educational and Conference Center, Front Royal, 2016-present.

• Family: Husband, Tihomir Yankov, 38; 6-year-old son.

• Hobbies: Rides horses, raises sheep for wool and reads.

• Website: Click here

• Facebook: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The first-time candidate traces her interest in elective office to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks almost 18 years ago.

Laura Galante, who lives near Marshall, had just started her junior year at James W. Robinson Jr. Secondary School in Fairfax when 19 hijackers on a picture-perfect fall day crashed jet liners into New York’s World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The attacks claimed 2,976 lives, excluding the terrorists.

Ever since, “I’ve always felt a very strong duty to serve,” said Ms. Galante, 33, who hopes to win the Democratic Party nomination for the 18th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. “It really motivated me to focus on what America’s role is in the world and how to protect America — from Russia and China in particular — in cyberspace.”

But she decided to pursue the Virginia legislative seat this year because, “I think the state level is where the action is right now,” explained the founder and owner of Galante Strategies LLC, a cybersecurity consulting firm that she operates from her home. “And, that’s why I’m putting all my time and energy into this race.”

The 18th District includes all of Rappahannock and portions of Culpeper, Fauquier and Warren counties.

Ms. Galante and Tristan Shields, 35, of Rixeyville, will vie for the Democratic Party nomination in the June 11 primary. The winner will face four-term Republican incumbent Michael Webert, 39, who lives near Marshall, in the Nov. 5 general election.

The district’s Democratic nominee in 2017, Mr. Shields lost decisively to his GOP rival. Mr. Webert received 60.4 percent of the district votes (16,686); Mr. Shields got 34.3 percent (9,486 votes); Green Party nominee Will King received 5.2 percent (1,433 votes).

Delegates serve two-year terms, earning $17,640 annually, plus a per diem. Republicans control the 100-member House, with 51 seats.

If elected, Mr. Galante explained she would work to:

• Extend broadband internet service to the district’s rural areas.

• Grow the district’s agricultural base and expand market opportunities for farmers.

• Strengthen the “community” through “quality education,” access to “affordable health care” and job growth.

Insufficient broadband in the 18th District’s rural areas “is holding us back locally, in terms of our economy, but also things as simple as our kids getting their homework done,” said Ms. Galante, who with her husband Tihomir Yankov and their young son moved from Great Falls to Fauquier in May 2017.

Virginia lacks a statewide internet plan, including maps that document existing infrastructure and gaps, said Ms. Galante.

“We need to define the goal, and we need to figure out how to get it done, with right data,” she said.

As a delegate, she would push to study ways to identify more markets for famers.

“There are a lot of smaller operations that are feeling stuck in conventional markets and methods that are not working,” said Ms. Galante, who raises sheep for wool, which she sells online. “We have such a dynamic agricultural sector in Fauquier, in particular.”

Farmers need help penetrating big nearby markets such as the Washington-metropolitan area, she suggested.

Business people have told her one of the region’s biggest employment challenges remains filling trade jobs, Ms. Galante said.

“They can’t get enough people to go into the specialty trades — HVAC, electrical, plumbing, carpenters,” said the Chicago native who moved to Northern Virginia about 25 years ago.

Students not bound for college need “better (job) options earlier,” Ms. Galate said. They should have chance to “explore what they could be doing in their career” at ages 14 or 15 rather than 18, she said.

“That would be a huge boon.”

Christina Wyckoff, 36, and Ms. Galante got to know each other about 10 months ago though a 4-H club the candidate founded. Both their sons belong to the group.

Like the candidate, Ms. Wyckoff, who lives near Orlean, believes the area needs broadband internet.

“I use satellite internet,” said the financial analyst for a government contractor with Northern Virginia offices. “And, I actually got turned down for a job because I had satellite internet,” which can be “so slow” and unreliable, especially during foul weather.

Ms. Wyckoff telecommutes whenever possible. Without that option, “I’d never see my family.”

Erratic satellite service also makes it difficult for her children to do online school assignments, she said.

“It affects my whole life,” Ms. Wyckoff said.

She also backs Ms. Galante because the candidate puts the citizens’ concerns first.

“I can trust her,” Ms. Wyckoff said. “I think she has the best interests for our county.”

Nigel R. Ogilvie, who lives near The Plains, met Ms. Galante about eight months ago at a Fauquier County Democratic Committee meeting.

“She strikes me as very intelligent and progressive in her view of job creation, without sacrificing rural beauty and character,” said Mr. Ogilvie, a 64-year-old federal government worker.

He supports Ms. Galante’s commitment to expand training people who want trade careers.

“I think she’s right,” Mr. Ogilvie said. “We have to bring more people” into such fields.

He also believes Ms. Galante will work to develop bipartisan solutions that would benefit all Virginians.

“She’ll make allies with her peers, regardless of party,” Mr. Ogilvie added.

Ms. Galante sounds confident about capturing the Democratic nomination in the June 11 primary and unseating Del. Webert in the Nov. 5 general election.

“I’m doing this one person at a time,” she said. “I’m going farm-to-farm, knocking on every door.

“I would not have thrown my hat into the ring, if I thought it was impossible.”

Ms. Galante believes she will need about $500,000 to fund her primary and general election campaigns. Her April 15 candidate finance report shows she has collected $102,182.

Contact Don Del Rosso at or 540-270-0300.
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Silii · April 18, 2019 at 6:46 pm
Laura Galante has what it takes to actually achieve things for citizens of the 18th. Personally, I tired of Webert spending as little time as possible in Richmond, not doing anything that shows he has a position on issues that might conflict with the party line in spite of what the constituents of the 18th need or want. Webert is stale and past tense, doesn't even own the farm he just works on. It's time to try someone new and energetic and interested in constituents and an absolute powerhouse in cybersecurity - her business. Give Laura 2 years - if you think she isn't good enough, then go back to the same ol same ol in 2021.
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