The Loudoun County Republican Committee has nominated Leesburg resident Gary Katz as the new Republican candidate for county chair, after former candidate Stephen Karbelk abruptly dropped out of the race citing his mother-in-law’s health.
The committee voted to nominate Katz at its meeting Monday night. Only two days earlier, Katz had no idea he’d be running for office, he said. Tuesday night, he was trying to explain to his eight-year-old daughter why he decided to take it on.
“In its simplest form, it’s that there are things that I’m seeing in my government that I don’t like, and I want to fix it,” he said in an interview Tuesday night.
“On a more adult level, I am dismayed at what I see as a lack of transparency and accountability in our government,” he added. “Like many people here, I’m following the stories that are going on the board, and what I see is misuse of government funds and a lack of accountability to that end. I’m not satisfied with the answers that I’m hearing, and I think the only check on that is really going to take place at the ballot box. And when the opportunity to run presented itself suddenly, someone had to step up. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and that was unacceptable to me.”
He said, “it really is that simple.”
Katz, who works in technology sales, is a relative political newcomer. It’s his first run for office. He recently started getting more involved in local government, speaking to the School Board in December following the release of a special grand jury’s investigation into the school district’s handling of repeated sexual assaults by the same student. He also penned a letter to the editor about it shortly thereafter.
“When I spoke at the School Board … it’s actually the same underlying principle,” he said. “When I stopped believing the answers I was getting, when it became very, very clear that we were not having transparency and accountability, and frankly honesty and integrity out of our elected representatives.”
He said he hoped hearing from someone who doesn’t normally speak at those meetings, and speaks “respectfully but firmly” would have an impact.
“I spoke because I felt that it needed to be said, and I’m not someone that would normally show up at School Board meetings,” he said. “I felt the need to go up and show that there’s someone that is not someone that they normally see and hear, that I’m not happy about it.”
He’s still getting his campaign organized—filing paperwork, building a campaign team, fielding a barrage of emails and calls—for the headlong sprint into November. He said he’s still getting up to speed, but he is concerned about the county government’s relationship with businesses.
“I do know that in broad terms, from the reporting that I’ve seen, that there is a lot of acrimony about how we’re treating the business community, and policies that are appeasing both residents and the business community,” he said. “We don’t want to think about it as opposed to business.”
And he said “I want to talk to everybody—Democrat, Republican, Independents, I’m doing this to serve the people.”
“That’s crucially important, and that goes back to why I’m running. You have to be able as a constituent to be heard, not just heard by the R or the D. You have to listen to everybody,” he said. “And that’s who I want to be, I want to be the collective representative.”
With his nomination, Katz enters a three-way race with two-term incumbent Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and independent candidate and farmer Sam Kroiz.
The Loudoun Republican Committee chose Katz over former NFL offensive lineman Tyler Catalina, who played for the Washington football team from 2017 to 2019. Most recently, he was selected in January by the DC Defenders of the XFL.