Mark Keam

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Mark Keam
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 35th district
In office
January 13, 2010 – September 6, 2022
Preceded bySteve Shannon
Succeeded byHolly Seibold
Personal details
Born (1966-05-10) May 10, 1966 (age 58)
Seoul, South Korea
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAlex Seong Keam
Residence(s)Vienna, Virginia, United States
EducationNewington College
University of California, Irvine (B.A.)
Hastings College of Law (J.D.)
CommitteesAgriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources

Mark Lee Keam (born May 10, 1966) is a Korean American lawyer. He is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates in the United States. A Democrat, Keam represented the 35th District, which encompassed a portion of Fairfax County, including the town of Vienna, Virginia, where he resides.[1] He resigned his seat on September 6, 2022, to take a position in the Biden administration.[2]

Keam was born in Seoul, South Korea, and has lived in Vietnam, Australia, and California. He was formerly an aide on Capitol Hill, and was an executive with Verizon Communications until he left in 2009 to run for the Virginia General Assembly.[3]

Early life[edit]

Keam was born to a Presbyterian minister in Seoul, South Korea, in 1966. His family later founded a church in Vietnam, before fleeing when the country became communist in 1975. After arriving in Australia, Keam and his brother attended Newington College[4] while their father was founding pastor of the Korean parish of the Uniting Church in Australia at Strathfield, New South Wales.[5] The family eventually settled in Orange County, California. To help support his family, Keam worked odd jobs, from construction to collecting shopping carts in a retail parking lot. He earned a degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine, and later earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Hastings College of the Law.[6]

Keam served as Senator Richard Durbin's chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2001 to 2007, when he left to join Verizon Communications as a Vice President and Counsel. In 2009, he took an unpaid leave of absence to run for the Virginia General Assembly.[3]

House of Delegates[edit]

In 2009, Delegate Steve Shannon, the Democratic incumbent, did not seek reelection in the 35th district in order to run (unsuccessfully) for Attorney General of Virginia. Keam declared his intention to run for the seat. On Election day Mark Keam defeated Republican challenger James E. Hyland, making Keam the first Asian-born immigrant and the first Korean American elected to any state-level office in Virginia. He was sworn into office on January 13, 2010 at the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

In February 2010, Keam and fellow freshman delegate James LeMunyon, a Republican, authored an op-ed in The Washington Post about their introduction of a bill to the General Assembly, which would attempt to make the voting records of General Assembly members more accessible to the public. The bill passed the House of Delegates 86 to 13 later that month.[7] A State Senate committee carried the bill over for a year, and it has not yet been voted on.[8]

He told a local newspaper in his district in January 2010 that he can legislate from an immigrant's point of view; saying that "I want to be able to speak on issues where people say, ‘I’ve never met an immigrant in my life; I don’t know what you guys think about it,’... I want to be able to say, ‘Well, let me tell you what they think about it.’" He has also sponsored another bill which would raise the number of ESL, or "English as a second language" teachers in Virginia’s schools from 17 full-time positions to 30 full-time positions for every 1,000 students.

Keam said in 2010 that he would abstain from voting on any bill which would pose a conflict of interest due to him being on an unpaid leave of absence from Verizon Communications, and he would not introduce any telecommunications legislation to the House of Delegates.[6]

Keam was re-elected to his seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates on November 7, 2017.[9]

In 2021, Keam co-founded the General Assembly's first Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus.[10]

Committee assignments[edit]

Keam has served on the House committees on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (2012–); Education (2012–); Finance (2010–); and Militia, Police and Public Safety (2010–2011).

Electoral history[edit]

Date Election Candidate Party Votes %
Virginia House of Delegates, 35th district
Jun 9, 2009[11] Democratic primary Mark L. Keam 3,653 55.05
John F. Carroll 1,163 17.52
Esam S. Omeish 1,050 15.82
Roy J. Baldwin 769 11.59
Nov 3, 2009[12] General Mark L. Keam Democratic 12,606 50.66
James E. "Jim" Hyland Republican 12,252 49.24
Write Ins 22 0.08
Steve Shannon ran for Attorney General; seat stayed Democratic
Nov 8, 2011[13] General Mark L. Keam Democratic 9,636 96.17
Write Ins 383 3.82

Despite the landslide victory of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell in the 2009 Governor's race, James Hyland was not able to take advantage of McDonnell's victory and was defeated by only 350 votes.[14]


  1. ^ Virginia House of Delegates Official bio, retrieved 2010-01-29
  2. ^ "Press Release: Fairfax Democrats Chair's Statement on Resignation of Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) – Fairfax County Democratic Committee". 6 September 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-06.
  3. ^ a b Mark Keam Campaign website, retrieved 2010-01-29 Archived December 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Newington College Alumni eNews
  5. ^ Virginia parliamentarian Mark Keam secures Seoul’s victory on Sea of Japan dispute
  6. ^ a b Garabelli, Veronica (January 20, 2010). "Keam Promotes 'Diversity of Views'". Vienna Connection. Retrieved March 6, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Keam, Mark; LeMunyon, James (February 23, 2010). "Let Virginians see how their legislators are voting". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  8. ^ Martz, Michael (March 15, 2010). "FOI council helps public with open government act". The Richmond Times Dispatch. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  9. ^ A Year After Trump, Women and Minorities Give Groundbreaking Wins to Democrats. The New York Times. NOV. 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "Virginia State Legislators Create AAPI Caucus". DCist. Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  11. ^ "June 2009 Democratic Primary Official Results". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  12. ^ "November 2009 General Election Official Results". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  13. ^ "November 2011 General Election Official Results". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  14. ^ 2009 election results in the 35th district, retrieved 2010-1-29

External links[edit]