Growing up in Colombia during war years, my goal was to one day become president and change my corner of the world. I saw so much pain and destruction caused by violence and the lack of opportunities for a better future. I knew there had to be a better way. Through hard work, I was able attend university in Colombia and complete my studies in political science and international relations.

I fundraised to move to London where I learned English at age 22 while working as a waitress and volunteering for Human Rights campaigns at Amnesty International. Later, I came to the United States to conduct research for my thesis and found love. Like most ESL (English as a second language) immigrants with no connections or experience, I was limited to low-wage jobs, but graduation helped me to climb the professional ladder.

Now as a full-time working mother, I’ve been able to give back through my community engagement and advocacy, including working with at-risk youth and vulnerable populations both in a professional capacity in my job as court officer and on a volunteer basis. I serve on the board of a massive HOA and various civic organizations, including the Providence District Council and Tysons Partnership.

The best thing about my story is that it is not unique in Providence District. Many see immigrants like me as the embodiment of the American Dream; we can own a business, buy a home, and live in a top-performing school district. But unfortunately, this dream is steadily becoming out of reach to many and it’s why I’m running for Providence District Supervisor.

In Providence, the median single-family home value is $560,000. People building our homes, teaching our children or serving our food cannot afford to live here. This is a crisis that is going to keep growing if we don’t work collaboratively to ensure we are a place where everyone can live, work, and play. We’re a better community when we provide housing options that meet the needs of students, young families, retirees, and seniors.

A Fairfax County for Everyone also means leading on transportation and environmental issues. I envision a county where a car is a choice, not indispensable. A county with more transit options, including safer pedestrian trails and commuter bike paths. A county where you can charge an electric car with the same ease that you find for fossil fueled vehicles.

Speaking of the environment, our planet has never been more fragile. We can do our part by preserving our green spaces such as Blake Lane Park, eliminating single use plastics, and providing financial incentives for businesses to incorporate environmentally sound waste management practices.

My vision for Providence is one that builds on our success and positions us for a better future. This election will determine our course for years to come. With your vote and support on June 11, I will be the strongest advocate for the future of Providence District on the Board of Supervisors.

Erika Yalowitz  is a candidate for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors — Providence District.

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