Danica Roem, a former journalist for the Montgomery County Sentinel and a lifelong resident of Manassas, Va., has announced she will run as a Democrat against longtime Republican Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas, Manassas Park, Bull Run), who is known best for his socially conservative views, including his vehement opposition to LGBT rights. Roem previously wrote for the Gainesville Times and the Prince William Times, covering local issues for those publications.
Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish says that, to his knowledge, Roem is the first openly transgender person to run for the General Assembly in the eight years he’s been serving as the organization’s executive director. Roem, who recently spoke in favor of the Prince William County School Board’s failed efforts to adopt nondiscrimination protections for LGBT students and employees, says she believes she can defeat Marshall in the state’s 13th House District.
Asked if she was prepared for a potential onslaught of negative ads should she emerge victorious from the primary, Roem says that she has not encountered any hostility from Prince William residents due to her transgender status, even when she spoke in favor of the LGBT nondiscrimination protections at two separate school board meetings.
“The funny thing is that the second day, when so many people spoke against something that I supported, I had a lot of conversations with the opponents of the policy,” she says. “And, to a person, every single one of them was extremely kind. No one was mean, vindictive, or nasty toward me. I had a lot of them come up to me and say, ‘What you’re doing takes a lot of courage,’ and ‘Even if I don’t agree with you, I respect what you’re doing.’
“I’m not going to run away from my identity whatsoever, not even in the least bit,” she adds. “But at the same time, I’m going to be campaigning strongly on the issues of the District: taking care of Route 28 finally — it was a mess 25 years ago when Del. Marshall got into office, and it’s still a mess. I know how to get it done without raising taxes — economic development, and education.”