By Michael Alison Chandler
Fighting for her children’s future
For Kathy Tran, who is vying for the seat held by retiring Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), her children and her family’s story have been central to her campaign.
Tran is a refugee from Vietnam who came to the United States with her parents when she was not yet 2.
Her fourth child was born shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Concerned about the new president’s anti-immigration platform, she and her husband, Matthew Reisman, chose the name Elise, inspired by Ellis Island, through which Reisman’s family immigrated to escape anti-Semitism. The middle name, “Minh Khanh,” is Vietnamese for “bright bell,” inspired by the Liberty Bell.
Within a few weeks of her daughter’s birth, Tran decided she wanted to live up to her daughter’s aspirational name. So she became a candidate.
Since February, she has knocked on more than 3,000 doors, many of them with her infant daughter at her side.
On a late October afternoon, Tran, a 39-year-old workforce policy expert, put on her well-worn tennis shoes and strapped her 9-month-old daughter into a baby carrier to canvass the winding, suburban streets of Springfield.
As she talked to neighbors about traffic congestion and education, her daughter coo’ed and kicked her legs.
“We moved here for the schools,” she told voter after voter, explaining that she wants to increase state funding for local schools. To a voter who said his biggest concern is climate change, she said: “We have no ‘Planet B, and this munchkin’s going to be alive into the next century.’ ”
When Tran arrived home, her other children were already in pajamas and dinner was waiting with help from her parents visiting from Southern California.
Over pizza purchased to support their school fundraiser, Tran told the older children, in Vietnamese, how Elise had scooted for the first time that morning. The children talked about 4-year-old Quinn’s upcoming birthday.
Sometimes on weekends, the family goes canvassing together, Tran said.
“We want our children to know that as our country is facing this moment of crisis, we are doing absolutely everything we can,” she said.