Atif Qarni, a father and teacher, is running for Virginia House of Delegates from the 13th District.
Atif graduated from George Washington University and went on to receive his Master’s degree and teaching certificate from George Mason.
Qarni now teaches 8th grade math at Beville Middle School in Dale City. He has served as a youth league football and soccer coach, track & field coach at Beville Middle School and also teaches GED classes in the evening. Atif lives in Manassas with his wife, Fatima, and two sons, Zane and Saber. He has lived in Manassas since 2005.
As a teacher, a parent and a longtime resident of Prince William County, he is focused on the issues most important to families and businesses in his community: quality education, improving transportation, and revitalizing the local economy. Here is an interview Qarni did with the Muslim Link.
TML: What inspired you to run for office and how has the process been so far?
I was inspired to run for office because I saw that my community and our schools were not getting the support they needed. Local businesses have been hurt by the increasing traffic and congestion. Class sizes have continued to grow while resources have continued to decrease over the last few years.
I have been committed to service throughout my life. After graduating from high school I joined the Marines. I was deployed to Iraq in 2003 while my wife was pregnant with our first child and was one of the first to enter into Baghdad. For the last five years I have served as a teacher, including the past four years as an 8th grade math teacher. Instead of just complaining about how things were, I decided to continue my service by running for the Virginia House of Delegates.
The process has been excellent so far. My family has been very supportive and actively helpful. I also spoke with my local Democratic committee people and they were supportive. They really liked my background as a Marine and a teacher. It seems like every day we are gaining more support and momentum for people in and around the community.
TML: What issues are you running on?
I am running to focus on the issues that matter like transportation, education, and jobs and economic growth. I want to work to help reduce traffic and congestion, create good paying jobs, and make sure our schools are the best they can be.
TML: How involved are you in the community in Manassas, VA?
I am very involved in my community and have been ever since we moved here nine years ago. My wife and sons enjoy going to local restaurants and use local car shops as well as other repair and service companies. For the last several years I have also been a youth football coach and coached my son’s soccer teams. I take a lot of pride in Manassas and I want to keep it family friendly and a desirable destination for others.
TML: The incumbent who you are running against is well-rooted in the district, how are you planning for a victory?
This district actually changed a lot with redistricting in 2011. While my opponent has been in office for a long time, he has only served this district for one term. This district became much more favorable in 2011 and this year we have the resources and hard work to win. President Obama won this district with 55% of the vote. I am knocking on doors and talking to voters every day. We have a dedicated team of volunteers from around the area. I believe the continued support from different people and organizations, the hard work we are putting in on the ground, and the changing demographics of the district will all play a huge role in putting us in a good position to win.
TML: What kind of support have you received from the Democratic Party?
I have received incredible support from the Democratic Party. They have provided me with financial, strategic, and personnel resources. They see the district numbers and the work we are doing on a daily basis and know that we have a great chance to win this seat.
TML: What advice would you give to others aiming to run for office?
I would tell others that are aiming to run for office that it is a great and rewarding experience. Don’t worry if there are people who think you can’t do it. As long as you have a good support system in place and are willing to put in the long hours and hard work, you go for it. We can only change our community for the better by doing. That being said, not everyone needs to run for office to create change. The most important thing we can do is get involved. We must educate ourselves on what is happening and hold our elected officials accountable. Whether you decide to run for office, volunteer on a campaign, or just vote, it is important to be actively involved in the democratic process.
TML: Finally, why should the people of District 13 vote for you?
The people of District 13 should vote for me because as a Marine and teacher I have a commitment to service. I want to continue serving and focusing on the issues that are affecting all of us. My opponent has an extreme right wing agenda which vilifies women, minorities and others. I am inclusive of everyone and will work hard to move my district and Virginia forward.