Teacher plans to run for Vogel’s seat

Provided by Ronnie Ross Ronnie Ross, Democratic candidate for Virginia's 27th Senate District.

WINCHESTER — A Fauquier County teacher says he is preparing to make a serious run at the 27th District state senate seat in the November 2019 election.

The seat is held by Republican Sen Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, who has said she is seeking re-election.

Ronald “Ronnie” Ross, 31, is the first Democrat to announce plans to seek his party’s nomination to represent the 27th District, which encompasses Winchester and the counties of Frederick, Clarke and Fauquier, as well as parts of Loudoun, Culpeper, and Stafford counties.

“I knew it was time,” Ross said on Monday, noting that he’s spent enough time complaining to his wife, Josie Ross, in the car about the state of politics in America.

Ross, who has a Middleburg address, is entering his 10th year as a teacher. He teaches English at Highland School in Warrenton, where he is also a freshman dean, English department chairman and athletics coach. A native of southeast Ohio, he holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania,

“We need to make it so that everyday working class folks can run for office,” Ross said, adding that he is aiming “to prove” that someone who doesn’t make a lot of money can enter politics.

Ross said on Monday that running for office is something he started considering after the birth of his son Ronnie Jr., who is 9 months old. “I began to worry about what world I was going to be leaving for my son.”

Vogel, 47, is a corporate lawyer and veteran legislator. She ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor last year. She was elected to her first four-year term in 2007 and has easily retained her seat since then.

On Monday, Vogel said she plans to run for a fourth term.

“I love my job and I love doing the constituent service, the legislation and work for the people of our district,” Vogel said in an email. “At this time I am planning to run again.”

In 2007 voters narrowly chose Vogel over local educator and Democratic Party benefactor Karen Schultz. In 2011 Vogel won re-election in a landslide victory and was unopposed in 2015.

“That’s not Democracy,” Ross said. “Voters deserve two viable choices.”

Ross said education is his foremost policy concern. “Overcrowded” classrooms and “underpaid” teachers are a problem facing schools in the 27th District, he said. He proposes a “universal pre-k” program in public schools, especially for special needs children who often come into the public system “too late.” Resources are needed to train and hire more teachers to bring down class sizes so teachers can have more time to spend with students.

The cost of higher education is also a concern, Ross said. “I’m still paying off my college loans.”

If elected, Ross said he would advocate for stronger environmental protections, including more careful review of potential stream pollution from pipeline projects and clean up of former industrial sites. Being from Ohio, Ross said he’s seen what damage pollution can do to communities. “Over here in my new home, I don’t want to see that happen.”

Ross said he’s already filed his Statement of Organization with the Virginia Department of Elections. Before next year, he plans to start attending functions throughout the 27th District to make his face familiar and stump for Democratic candidates who will be on the ballot this November.

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For more information about Ross, visit RonnieRoss.com.

— Contact Onofrio Castiglia at ocastiglia@winchesterstar.com

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