(Updated 9:10 a.m. on 1/26/22) A second candidate for the new, metropolitan House of Delegates District 2 has emerged.
And Adele McClure, 32, says she was in the right place at the right time to even consider running. She was in the middle of moving apartments when the state Supreme Court accepted new district maps after a months-long redistricting process.
“The opportunity literally arose when I found out my old place was no longer in the district and the new place was,” said McClure, who is the Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. “Isn’t that crazy? It felt like everything was aligning.”
If elected — and the election will likely be held in 2023 — McClure says she will increase funding for and expand affordable housing and homeownership opportunities, fully fund public schools, make healthcare more accessible and equitable, champion criminal justice reform and tackle climate change.
She said she will bring professional and personal experience to her role while, as a Black and Asian woman, representing marginalized perspectives in Arlington’s state delegation, which has been historically white. McClure has worked both in the legislative and executive branches of Virginia government and has lived experiences of the same issues she’s tackled professionally.
“I’ve been at the execute and implement stages, creating the legislation, getting it through and jumping it over to execution side to make sure that communities have the resources they need and connecting with folks to make sure the bill gets off the ground,” she said.
McClure says she experienced hunger and periodic homelessness growing up in the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County and attending the public schools there. In high school, she worked three jobs and took care of her niece and nephew while her brother was incarcerated. She was the first in her family to attend college, graduating in 2011 from the Virginia Commonwealth University.
“If you told me, as a little girl, I would be running to represent Arlington County, I would think it was so out of the realm of possibilities,” she said.
Since then, she has spent the last decade building up a resume of service in Arlington and in state politics.
After graduating from VCU, she moved to Arlington, where she lived until she decamped to Richmond to work under Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax as the policy director. (She resigned after he became the target of sexual assault allegations.)
She also ran the state Department of Housing & Community Development’s first eviction-prevention effort. Three years ago, McClure earned a spot in the law and policy category of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was elected to the Forbes Under 30 Global Board.
In Arlington, McClure has served on the county’s Action Plan for Ending Homelessness, the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Housing Solutions, the Community Services Board and on the CSB’s Substance Use Disorder committee, and the Continuum of Care homelessness outreach program.
She is involved in the Arlington County Democratic Committee, has volunteered during elections as an assistant precinct chief, and worked to establish the Dulles Justice Coalition, which provided interpreters and attorneys to travelers when former President Donald Trump’s travel ban went into effect.
“There are a lot of folks out there who can give a ton of background and lived experience with these policies,” she said. “I’m intentional about reaching out to those who will be closely impacted by the legislation.”
She’ll be going up against Nicole Merlene, a former candidate for State Senate and ARLnow columnist. Merlene has also made expanding affordable housing in her hometown of Arlington a top priority and has an extensive resume of local leadership.
“Arlington is my hometown and I have worked to support our community for over seven years in local leadership positions including: Co-Chair of the Housing and Tenant Landlord Subcommission, Arlington Economic Development Commission, and the Rosslyn Civic Association,” Merlene told ARLnow.
Most recently, she worked with Arlington state delegation to introduce renter’s rights legislation in response to the poor living conditions residents of the Serrano Apartments affordable housing complex exposed.
The candidate says she has a pulse on the metro areas that now form the new district as well as the support of dozens of local leaders.
“The creation of the new 2nd District, which will represent the Metro corridor, is a remarkable opportunity to elect someone that understands what is happening on the ground and has the local policy experience needed to succeed in the General Assembly. I am honored to have the support of over 40 commission chairs, civic association presidents, and elected leaders alike that know and trust my ability to represent the interests of our community.”
Merlene maintains an advisory role on the state’s mental health system, “Marcus Alert,” and immersed herself in planning efforts for Pentagon City, both in anticipation of Amazon choosing Arlington for the location of its second headquarters and during a more recent planning effort for the neighborhood.
As of now, the race is on the ballot next in 2023, says Department of Elections Officer Gretchen Reinemeyer.
“It’s possible a special election will be called for this year so that the House can be elected in the new districts,” she said. “This has not happened yet. As such, the first filing date for this office is still Jan. 2023. Individuals can open financial campaign committees to begin raising funds, but no one can actually file to run for these offices this year.”
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