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Posts Tagged ‘School Board’

In about eight and a half hours polls across the Commonwealth of Virginia will open.  On the ballot, we will find each member of the House of Delegates, the Virginia Senate, and a whole host of local and constitutional offices.

The most talked about aspect of this election statewide is control of the State Senate.  Currently, the Democratic Party enjoys a 22-18 majority in that chamber.  Most commentators, myself included, believe that the Republican Party will pick up several seats.  The two questions are: how many seats will the GOP gain and where will they enjoy the greatest success?

Here in the Shenandoah Valley, neither the House nor the Senate races are particularly interesting.  Most incumbents are unopposed and the one Delegate who is challenged, Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, should win handily.  As I’ve mentioned, the race for Sheriff is the most exciting contest in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  Of course, I’m also interested to hear the outcome of the school board race in the county too.

In years past, you would often find me outside polling places, working for a candidate or the party.  This year, though, I’m trying something new.  I’ll be working for Rockingham County to help oversee one of their many polling places.  From 5 AM to 9 PM, you will find me at this post.  It’s going to be a long day, but whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or an Independent, we can all agree that ensuring proper voting and fair play is a central element of our election process.

Anyway, if you live in Virginia, I want to remind you to vote tomorrow.  Sure, this election may not be as glamorous as the 2012 Presidential race to come, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.  After all, if you want to have a voice in your state and local government, now you have your chance!  Polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM.

Vote Virginia!

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Joshua’s Note: I recently received an email from a citizen of Fairfax County regarding some of the shady dealings of the local school board.  Although I’m not a resident of the area, I strongly support the idea of government openness and accountability.  As indicated at the bottom of this post, this special guest letter is written by Lin-Dai Kendall.  I hope this letter will help foster discussion on this issue.

I’m a resident of Fairfax County. Given that it’s lauded as among the best run, among the wealthiest, priding itself in the service provided to its residents, I am totally taken aback at the questionable behavior of some members of the School Board in regards to the future of our community schools. It is neither an emotional reaction nor an emotional issue. The county’s taxpayer base owns the schools they let the SB run and therefore a sense of school ownership by the taxpayer is only appropriate.

The issue at hand, how does a School Board allow and tolerate the unethical behavior of a member of its cadre is begging to be addressed. What is happening to our communities, our governance, that so many people can witness breach of public trust and arrogantly turn their backs hiding in a curtain of fabricated, limited & skewed information and behind the skirts of sympathetic politicians? Allowing a member to deliberately obscure the truth, insist in rationalizing and justifying a vote rooted on deceit before Fairfax County’s citizenry can only be categorized as appalling and demoralizing.

This comment is not a shot in the dark nor does it qualify as irresponsible. The incongruence of a vote to close a Governor’s Award of Excellence community school vis-à-vis the solutions presented in the Southwestern Regional Planning Study as well as the information provided in multiple hearings raised suspicions of an agenda behind an agenda. Subsequently members of two strong education/schools advocacy groups submitted FOIA requests to gain a better understanding of the most recent decisions of our School Board and FCPS. (FOIA requests have been posted for public consumption by these advocacy groups.) The information reviewed clearly shows SB rep. Liz Bradsher coaching a larger segment of her constituents from West Springfield H.S., on how to advance their center to the head of the renovation queue at the expense of closure of Clifton Elementary School (thus a smaller segment of voters). You decide how to qualify her actions.

An informed public with the responsibility and power to vote can and WILL take care of this situation. Let FCPS know that they as well as the School Board work for US, the Fairfax Resident. A boundary study that will affect 23 schools and 18,000 children cannot and should not be spearheaded by anyone who’s INTERESTS COME BEFORE THOSE OF ALL HER CONSTITUENTS, or demonstrates a lack of integrity. Such an individual needs to be removed from his/her representative position and prevented from having anything to do w/ facilities planning. I also urge you to ask of your favorite news outlets to shed light on the truth.

Lin-Dai Kendall

Concerned Parent

Fairfax Station, VA

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Besides electing members to the House of Representatives and voting on Constitutional amendments to the Virginia Constitution in a couple of weeks, many cities and counties in Virginia will be holding local elections too.  In Harrisonburg, for example, we will be electing members to the city council and the school board.  What has always confused me about local elections is that political parties, citizens, and even candidates themselves never really take campaigning for these offices too seriously.  Sure, they put up yard signs, send out a single mailer, and might even try to knock on your door once, but that’s about it.  Although I won’t claim I’ve observed them all, I will admit that I’ve never seen a professionally run campaign for a city office here in Harrisonburg.  Where is the fundraising…or the volunteers…or the campaign manager?  Now I know what some candidates will say, that they don’t have the funds to run a full-scale campaign, but I believe it can be done fairly easily.  Unfortunately, tradition is tough to overcome.  For that simple reason, so many people ignore city and county elections and think that they are a joke.

In our last city council elections, we had three Democratic candidates, three Republicans, and two Independents vying for three seats.  Keep in mind that this election took place during the McCain vs. Obama election.  So guess who won?  All three Democrats did.  As far as I could tell, Tracy Evans, who is currently the Chairman of the Harrisonburg GOP, had the best-run campaign, but, with all due respect, it was still insufficient when compared to more traditional ones.  Unfortunately, it is likely that all three Republicans relied on the McCain campaign for support rather than running a separate and independent operation.  Given that the McCain campaign only garnered 41% of the vote in the city, the council candidates were defeated too.  In general, it seems as if city council and school board candidates place their trust in their own renown and fortune to win elections.  If the political winds are favorable, like in 2004, the Republicans will win.  If fortune turns against them, like in 2008, they will be destroyed.  Since the local elections are now tied with the state and national elections rather than being the traditional May event, it is even more important for candidates to set themselves apart from the state and national currents.  On the flip side, given the high negatives of Obama and the Democratic led Congress, if neither the Democrats nor the Republicans run a hard fought campaign, I would expect the Republicans to win at least one, if not both, of the seats on council this year.

City council and school board races are important for two reasons:  1. Some of these leaders go on to higher office.  2. Because of their relatively small constituency, they are supposed to be the easiest to contact and be closest to the people.   Do I want a conservative city?  Certainly, just like I want a conservative state and a conservative country.  When it is all said and done, elections rise and fall based upon candidates and their campaigns.  Given the low turnout and interest in these races, even a modest campaign can easily swing a couple hundred votes which can mean the difference between a loss and a win.  So candidates, if you are serious about winning, ask the loyal base for our money, ask for our time, and ask for our vote.  It’s that simple.  And get a decent campaign going for crying out loud.  Now I’ll freely admit that I could be wrong about Harrisonburg local elections, given that I’ve never really been fully engaged in one, but from what I’ve observed, as well as the fact that I’ve never been asked to really help out either, I truly doubt it.  State and national elections are very important, yes, but we cannot continue to allow local elections to simmer unwatched on a back burner.  They are real campaigns for real offices and must be treated as such.  In closing, I’m well aware that some liberals read this blog, and if they take this message to heart and conservatives do not, don’t blame me.  If Republicans continue to insist on running a joke of a campaign, then, like in 2008, Harrisonburg will soon receive a Democratic punch line.  I doubt many of us find that prospect a laughing matter.

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