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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fairfax County Democrats endorse McElveen for school board

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) picked youth over experience in voting to endorse Ryan McElveen for an at-large seat on the school board last night. The margin was razor thin: McElveen got 99 votes, while the other candidate, Jeannie Armstrong, got 97.

In a brief speech before the vote, McElveen, who graduated from Marshall High School in 2004, said it’s important to have someone on the board who can understand the student perspective and be an advocate for students. 

McElveen’s priorities include improving teacher compensation, reforming disciplinary procedures, providing healthier school meals, making the budget process more transparent, and eliminating athletic fees. He works in the International Operations and Policy office of the Boeing Co. and is a Mandarin Chinese tutor.

Armstrong, a social worker, stressed her strong ties to unions and the Democratic Party and her experience as the member of a board of a major corporation. “This is not an entry level job, and I am not an entry level candidate,” she said.

The Democrats had initially endorsed three candidates for the three at-large positions on the school board, but one of them, Charisse Espy Glassman, withdrew after it was revealed she is involved in a pending assault charge.

The endorsement process used by the FCDC at its May meeting was widely criticized, and a flawed procedures also surfaced at last night’s meeting.

This time, FCDC Chair Rex Simmons proceeded with a vote to remove a member from the committee before it was established whether or not there was a quorum.

The member in question was Maria Allen, who had sought FDCD endorsement for an at-large seat on the school board. After receiving the fewest votes at the May meeting, she announced plans to run as an independent but later withdrew her candidacy.

At the July 26 meeting, a motion was made to remove her from the FCDC because her bid to run as an independent violated her pledge to support Democratic candidates, because she had endorsed two Republican candidates—Louise Epstein of the Dranesville District and at-large candidate Lolita Mancheno-Smoak—and because she bad-mouthed Democratic candidates. 

Allen urged the FCDC to reject the motion because school board elections are supposed to be non-partisan. She said she would like to stay on the committee and help make it more democratic.

The FCDC voted 70 to 56 to remove her, but a lot of people had already left and many others didn’t vote because it was obvious there was no quorum. As a result, the vote was tabled. [Full disclosure: The Annandale blogger is a member of the FCDC.]

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