meet Ray szwabowski

Ray Szwabowski is a husband, father, and former public defender in Charlottesville, Virginia. He’s running in the Democratic primary to work for Charlottesville as our community’s top public safety official.

When Ray was eleven years old, a close relative went to federal prison. “As I grew up, I saw the toll that incarceration took on my family: paying egregiously high prices for simple things like phone calls and toothbrushes. But most importantly, I felt the stress and anxiety of knowing that my family member was unsafe.” 

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Spanish and Foreign Affairs, Ray stayed in Charlottesville to work as a Spanish-speaking sales representative, then returned to UVA to earn his law degree. During law school, Ray volunteered at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Public Defender Office, joining the office as an attorney after graduation. 

As a public defender, Ray worked for indigent defendants to help them get a fair day in court. But the deck was often stacked against Ray’s clients, leaving justice out of reach. That’s why he sees the role of Charlottesville’s prosecutor as something bigger—an advocate for more just policy in Richmond and real engagement in Charlottesville’s most overpoliced communities.  

Ray also knows that this is a unique moment for criminal legal reform. The movement for Black lives has drawn historic momentum, and we might not have the same grassroots enthusiasm for real change in four years. The time for Charlottesville to act is now.