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Monday, January 14, 2019

Lots of turnover expected on school board

Abrar Omeish
Big changes are expected in the makeup of the Fairfax County School Board next year.

Three school board members – Sandy Evans (Mason), Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill), and Jane Strauss (Dranesville) – are not running for re-election.

Ryan McElveen (at-large) and Dalia Palchik (Providence) are not filing as candidates because they are running for the Board of Supervisors. McElveen is running for board chairman, and Palchik is running for the Providence position on the BoS.

The two Republican members of the school board – Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) and Thomas Wilson (Sully) – will face strong Democratic candidates if they run for re-election. Neither has officially announced yet.

School board members who have confirmed that they are running for re-election include Karen Keys-Gamarra (at-large), Ilryong Moon (at-large), Megan McLaughlin (Braddock), Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Lee), and chair Karen Corbett Sanders (Mount Vernon).

Robert Walter
Fairfax County school board elections are officially nonpartisan but the political parties endorse candidates.

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee will meet in May to determine who to endorse in cases where there is more than one Democrat vying for a school board seat.

No candidates on the Republican side have so far announced plans to run for the school board, says Jim Trollinger, chair of the Mason District Republican Committee.

The Democratic and Republican primaries are June 11, and the general election is Nov. 5.

So far, two Democratic candidates are running for at-large seats on the school board:
  • Abrar Omeish is co-chair of the Fairfax County school board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee, former president of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, former member of the school board’s advanced academics committee, and founder of Give Youth, a youth-led nonprofit organization. 
  • Rachna Sizemore Heizer represents the Braddock District on the board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and is a member of the boards of the Special Education PTA, the FCPS Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities, and Arc of Northern Virginia. 
In the Mason District, Jessica Swanson is seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Evans. Another Democratic candidate could possibly surface, as well.

In the Springfield District, where the school board seat is held by a far-right Republican, Elizabeth Schultz, two candidates are competing in the Democratic primary:
  • Robert Walter is director of the SUNY Washington Internship Program and is a member of the school board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee. 
  • Laura Jane Cohen is a substitute teacher, PTA president at Cherry Run Elementary School, and former preschool teacher. 
Alicia Perhoples
The other Republican member of the school board, Thomas Wilson (Sully), faces a Democratic competitor, Stella Pekarsky, a PTA leader, former English-as-a-second language teacher, and parent of six FCPS students.
There are two Democratic candidates running in the Providence District:
  • Jung Byun is a data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton and a member of the FCPS Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee.
  • Karl Frisch is executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer watchdog organization, and chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s LBGTQ+ Committee.
Alicia Plerhoples is running as a Democrat for the Dranesville position on the school board. Plerhoples is a law professor at Georgetown University, a member of the school board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee, and a member of the governing board of the McLean Community Center.

In the Hunter Mill District, Melanie Meren is seeking the Democratic endorsement. A marketing professional, Meren worked at the U.S. Department of Education, serves on the school board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee, and was a co-leader of the #IamFCPS grassroots campaign to oppose budget cuts.


  1. If the positions are officially non-partisan, you should not refer to the candidates or characterized them as "Republican" or "Democratic" or, worst of all "far-right Republican". Interestingly, Sandy Evans and Dalia Palchik were not described as "far-left Democrats" for some odd reason. This post is an abomination to the spirit in which these positions were conceived. This could be the worst post i have seen on this site EVER.

  2. someone call the waambulance

  3. Some of the language is a bit off: the School Board candidates don't run in primaries and they get endorsed rather than nominated by the local political parties. But let's not kid ourselves - the political affiliations of the candidates generally are well known. The biggest question is whether the local Democrats will withhold endorsements from McLaughlin and Kaufax, who have taken positions on some issues more aligned with Schultz and Wilson than their other Democratic-endorsed colleagues.