School board member, former teacher to run for open Virginia House seat

A Fairfax County School School Board member and a former teacher are planning to run for the Virginia House of Delegates seat being vacated by Del. Mark Keam.

Keam is leaving the General Assembly for a job in President Joe Biden’s administration, and School Board member Karl Frisch and Holly Seibold, a former Fairfax County teacher, are planning to vie for the seat, which represents McLean, Tysons, Dunn Loring, Oakton, Penderbrook and Vienna.

Keam has represented the 35th District since 2010. He most recently defeated Republican candidate Kevin McGrath in 2021.



Garren Shipley, a spokesperson for Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert, said discussions were still underway about the timing of a special election, which will not affect the GOP’s control of the chamber.

Bryan Graham, chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said in a statement that the group was formalizing its plans to operate an “open and fair process” to choose its nominee.

Graham’s statement thanked Keam for his service and noted that he made history as the first Asian-born immigrant and the first Korean American elected to any state office in Virginia.

Keam said he was particularly proud of his record on environmental issues and his work to end the sales tax on menstrual products.

“I hope that my efforts, my accomplishments will make a difference in Virginians’ lives,” Keam said.

Frisch, meanwhile, currently represents the Providence District on the school board, and said he’s the first openly LGBTQ person elected to local office in Fairfax County. He also served as executive director of watchdog Allied Progress.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that Gov. (Glenn) Youngkin is more interested in running for president and meeting with people in places like Maine and Michigan, while he uses our world-class public schools as a political punching bag,” Frisch told WTOP. “We need more people in Richmond who understand the central role that our amazing public schools play in our communities, how they bring jobs and resources to our communities. And we need people who will stand up to the governor when he decides that he’s going to spend some time in Virginia, and he’s going to spend that time punching our schools.”

Frisch said he was planning a reelection campaign for his school board seat, but after learning of Keam’s plans, he said he recognized running for Keam’s seat would be “an opportunity to step up and serve the community.”

Frisch’s legislative priorities, he said, include protecting public schools, defending reproductive freedom and creating an economy “that works for everyone.”

Frisch said he has been endorsed by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer and a handful of current and former school board members, among others.

“I think they agree with me that we need more fighters in Richmond who are going to stand up to the far right when they attack our schools, when they attack abortion access, when they ignore gun violence. We need more people in Richmond who are willing to stand up and fight,” Frisch said.

Seibold, who also founded the organization BRAWS: Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters, said in a statement that she felt motivated to run for office after the Supreme Court’s decision to limit access to abortion in some states.

She has served on the Virginia Council on Women, as well as the Vienna Business Association; she has led a nonprofit, taught at a public school and owned a small business.

“Like many women, I am infuriated that the rights we have worked so hard to gain are being rolled back; it’s devastating. I believe it is time for us to stand up and fight against extremists like Glenn Youngkin and tell them loudly ‘NO, Virginia will not go backwards,'” Seibold said in the statement.

After November 2023, the 35th District will be the 12th District and include some different precincts. Frisch said he lives in both configurations. He has $140,000 in his campaign account.

The Associated Press and WTOP’s Hugh Garbrick contributed to this report. 

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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