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Deshundra Jefferson's Campaign: All Talk, No Walk

Despite her lofty claims, Deshundra Jefferson may be too busy “bringing sexy back to land use” to focus on the critical skills one needs for political leadership: consistency, strategy, and yes, effective communication.

Deshundra Jefferson, self-titled "communications professional" and one-time journalist, decided to take the plunge into politics by announcing her candidacy for the chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors this past January. Yet despite her claim to be an ace communicator, Jefferson seems more occupied with “bringing sexy back to land use” policy than honing the critical competencies required for effective political leadership: consistency, strategy, and yes, effective communication.

Jefferson, who boasts a master's degree in communications from Johns Hopkins University, may indeed have academic credentials, but her track record suggests she’s more proficient in communication theory than practical application. After failing to find traction in journalism and with a spotty record of barely holding a job for more than two years, her campaign has raised eyebrows and provoked questions about her actual ability to, well, communicate effectively.

As it stands, Jefferson's communication style seems to be a strategic mix of buzzwords, academic jargon, and vaguely socialist principles. Amidst a flurry of clichés about "saying no" to developers, advocating for smart-growth practices, and preaching about the non-sexy appeal of land use, it's hard not to wonder if Jefferson is running for a county board seat or a guest spot on a low-rated reality TV show.

To add to the comedy of errors, Jefferson's professional history as a political operative is practically nonexistent. She has never been part of a winning political campaign and her promises of bringing about change in the county start to sound as hollow as a drum with no beat. Jefferson has the enthusiasm of a first-time candidate mixed with the naivety of someone who thinks politics is just about having a “different vision” and not about actual governance.

This brings us to her opposition of the PW Digital Gateway and her stance on land use, which she promises to make sexy again, leaving us all wondering when land use was ever considered sexy in the first place. While trying to bring some risqué charm to a decidedly dry issue, Jefferson inadvertently betrays her lack of understanding of complex economic and environmental policies.

In a rather amusing turn of events, Jefferson states that she is "not running against anything" but rather offering a "different vision." Perhaps she forgot that running in an election, by definition, means running against something—or someone. But who are we to split hairs, especially when they're as confusingly intertwined as Jefferson's political rhetoric?

Even Jefferson’s support for "turning down the temperature" on hot-button issues like racism and political polarization feels less like a nuanced stance on sensitive matters and more like a surface-level commitment to avoid handling anything too controversial or challenging. Indeed, this is exactly what voters should want in their leaders: an avoidance of important discussions in favor of arguing over the alleged sex appeal of zoning ordinances.

As the primary approaches in June, voters in Prince William County are left to ponder: do they want a board chair who has demonstrated leadership and effective communication, or do they want a former journalist and current communications 'professional' who couldn’t stick to a job for more than a couple of years and has never worked on a winning campaign?