Let’s turn, for now, from Trump, Virginia (and Georgia) politics and focus on a really, really important topic: The FFX County Public Schools Board's upcoming special election.
No, really. This is important. Five reasons why:
1. The Republicans are trying to manipulate the election. First, some background: Republican at-large school board member Jeannette Hough, elected to the school board in 2015, stepped down as of May 31 because her husband was taking a job overseas. That sets up a special election for the seat, and Democrats have a chance to regain the seat they lost in 2015. But, according to a statement by Sue Langley, Democratic Committee Chair of the Fairfax County Democrats, “troubling signs indicate that Republicans may have pressured Ms. Hough to resign early.” And why is that significant? Because of the timing of the special election to replace Hough. Under Virginia law, if Hough had resigned after June 10, the special election to replace her would have taken place at the same time as the Nov. 7 general election. But because she resigned earlier than that, Fairfax County is required to hold a special election in the summer. The date, set by the Chief Judge of the Fairfax Circuit Court, is August 29.
2. Seriously? In August? Exactly. Republicans know that only the most hard-core voters will focus on election campaigns in summer and turn out to vote in late August. They are counting on the rest of us being at the beach or focused on getting through our kids through the first days of school on the new calendar
3. The Democrats need this seat. With Hough’s resignation, the board has two Republican-endorsed members and nine members endorsed by Democrats. Not a bad majority. But keep in mind that the Far Right has continually made life difficult for Fairfax County parents who want all children to be treated fairly and get a quality education. All Republican school board candidates, for example, are backed by the Traditional Values Coalition, labeled a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its vehement opposition to homosexual and transgender rights.
4. We can stop them. Democrats are mobilizing. The meeting to endorse an at-large board candidate in the special election begins 7 pm, Friday, June 23, at the Fairfax County Government Center. After speeches by candidates, the vote will take place.
It is open to the public, but only current Fairfax County Democratic Committee members can vote. And FCDC needs a quorum for the endorsement to count. There is a great slate of candidates: Geoge Becerra, Marianna Du Bosq, Carolyn Hendler, Shaista Keating, Stacia Keel, Karen Keys-Gamarra, Michele Menapace and Abrar Omeish.
5. We have to stop them. The stakes are incredibly high. We know how shockingly easy it is for school boards to become dominated by extremists. And we all know how Republicans have long successfully targeted state and local school board seats across the country as a way to impose extremist views –- denying climate-change, most recently -- and as a way to fund charter schools at the expense of public schools. Just last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that will shift massive amounts of funding from the public schools to state charter schools. We can’t allow that to happen in Virginia. We need strong board members to fight Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her radical agenda to decimate public schools.
For all these reasons, we need to organize. What can YOU do?
If you are currently a member of the Fairfax Democratic Committee, attend the meeting on June 23 to select a Democratic school board member
If you live in Fairfax County, vote for the new school board member at your regular polling stations on Tuesday, August 29, 6 am-7 pm. Put it on your calendar now so you remember after those long, languishing days at the beach. Democrats showed up in big numbers for the June primaries – we can do it again for this election!