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Fairfax County Democrats for first time lets voters decide school board endorsements

“I voted” stickers from Election Day (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) For the first time ever, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is allowing registered Democrats to vote on which school board candidates it will endorse this year.

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) announced yesterday (Monday) that it will hold an open caucus to allow any voter who registers with the party to vote in this year’s nonpartisan races.

On the ballot will be several school board seats — three at-large members, the Mount Vernon District representative, and the Hunter Mill District representative — as well as a member of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) board of directors.

To vote in the caucus, voters are required to register with the FCDC. Registration opened yesterday and will continue until May 5. Online voting for candidates will be from May 13 through May 20, when there will also be an in-person voting option.

“With our new endorsement process, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is giving the choice on our endorsed candidates to the voters,” FCDC Chair Bryan Graham wrote in a press release. “This process will strengthen our candidates for non-partisan offices and our party as we work to elect Democratic candidates to every position on the ballot this year.”

The county’s school board and the NVSWCD board are nonpartisan offices, meaning members don’t represent a specific political party, but the local Democratic and Republican committees can make endorsements.

For the school board, Kyle McDaniel, Ryan McElveen, Ilryong Moon, Hamid Munir, and Lawerence Webb will all be vying for three at-large spots. None of the incumbents are running for those spots again, though Rachna Sizemore Heizer is campaigning for the Braddock District seat.

Both Moon and McElveen are former members of the school board, having stepped down at the end of 2019, while McDaniel, Munir, and Webb would be new.

In the Mount Vernon District, Mateo Dunne and Harold Sims are looking to replace current representative Karen Corbett Sanders, who is retiring.

Melanie Meren is seeking FCDC’s endorsement for reelection as the Hunter Mill District representative, competing against Paul Thomas, a current member of the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.

The committee has already endorsed several school board candidates who were uncontested in seeking its support, including:

  • Braddock District: Rachna Sizemore Heizer
  • Dranesville District: Robyn Lady
  • Franconia District: Marcia St. John-Cunning
  • Mason District: Ricardy Anderson
  • Providence District: Karl Frisch
  • Springfield District: Sandy Anderson
  • Sully District: Seema Dixit

The Fairfax County Republican Committee will determine its endorsements in the nonpartisan races at a meeting on April 19, according to Fairfax GOP Vice Chairman Nick Andersen.

The committee has hosted both in-person and virtual meetings in recent months so its members can get to know the candidates.

“The endorsement meeting itself will include district-level caucuses to provide recommendations to the full membership followed by a paper ballot-based vote for all members in attendance,” Anderson said. “Candidates for office must achieve a simple majority of voting members that are participating in the meeting in order to receive the FCRC endorsement.”

There are also a number of partisan races coming up this year, meaning candidates can represent a specific political party. Those primaries will be held on June 20.

Last week, the FCDC announced the candidates in those races that have officially qualified to seek Democratic nominations.

Notable contests include the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chair and four district seats, Commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, four State Senate seats, and three House of Delegate seats.

The primary is set for June 20, and the general election is on November 7.

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