With all of the dark notes about yesterday’s election, I want to take a moment to flesh out one of the victories I am especially pleased to see — that of Ryan McElveen to the Fairfax County School Board.
To put this into perspective, I have to dredge up some old division. (Yes, I DO have to!) The school board races for the Democratic nomination this year were, to put a point on it, DIVISIVE. They were angry, and heated, and there were more than a few accusations thrown around about who was a “real” Democrat and breaking rules and back room deals, some of which was going on right up until election day. It was one of the ugliest battles I’ve had to deal with as an FCDC member, and one that I’m not proud of.
I was there the night that Ryan was first defeated. I’ll be honest, I came into that room not a Ryan supporter. I think, like a lot of people, I knew very little about him, and I knew a great deal more about the other candidates. But I was very impressed by the way he accorded himself. One the second ballot, I voted for him.
But here is what I ESPECIALLY appreciated. When Ryan did not receive the nomination that night, he was a candidate to be proud of. He was gracious, and committed. He IMMEDIATELY released a statement that said that he was not only supporting the three candidates chosen, but was proud to have been considered. It was a model statement.
When the chance came for him to run again, he worked extra hard getting speaking to our committee and taking extensive questions. It was not a surprise to me at all that he managed to pull off a victory against, again, a better known candidate for the nomination.
Now we get to the general election. So many people wrote Ryan off. He was too young. He was too inexperienced. In an election where reform mattered, he hadn’t been a vocal reformer as some of the other candidates had been. Indeed, the Washington Post barely acknowledged him.
But once again, he showed us what a great candidate can do. His signs were among the first up, and were well distributed throughout the county. He continued showing up a Dem meetings and event, always with a smile, a firm handshake and a hopeful spirit. He knocked on doors. He sent out mailers. He kept smiling.
And when he won yesterday, it was particularly sweet. And I just thought it was worth taking a few minutes to remind ourselves that great candidates DO come along, sometimes out of nowhere, and we should be grateful for them.