Late this afternoon, Fairfax County School Board At-Large member Ryan McElveen held his kickoff event for Fairfax County Board Chair (see video, below). Among the couple hundred people in attendance were elected officials and candidates including Fairfax County School Board members Ilryong Moon, Tamara Derenak Kaufax, Sandy Evans, Pat Hynes, Dalia Palchik, Janie Strauss; Providence District Supervisor candidates Edythe Kelleher and Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner; Providence District School Board candidate Jung Byun; Dranesville District School Board candidate Alicia Plerhoples; Lee District County Board candidates Larysa Kautz and Kelly Hebron; At-Large School Board candidate Abrar Omeish; Springfield District School Board candidate Robert Walter; and Hunter Mill District Supervisor candidate Shyamali Hauth.
For his part, McElveen talked about his accomplishments on the School Board, including leading on healthier food in schools, on “inclusion…for our LGBT students…on issues of sexual misconduct prevention…dress code reform…human trafficking prevention…gun violence and school safety…improving community engagement and legislative advocacy at the state and federal level.” And McElveen said “we have accomplished this despite chronic underfunding of our public schools.” McElveen took what I heard as a clear swipe at his County Board Chair opponent, Supervisor Jeff McKay, when he referred to “leaders [in our county] who want to aspire to positions of more power who were behind those cuts to the school system.” And, McElveen declared, “I cannot stand on the sidelines while that happens.”
Regarding his County Board Chair campaign, McElveen laid out a broadly and robustly progressive platform, based on promoting “equity and a stronger community to Fairfax County.” McElveen argued that while Fairfax County is a great place to live, but it’s not working for everyone…there’s been a rise in the divide between the haves and the have-nots…this has led…to essentially two Fairfaxes.” McElveen declared that he’s running for Chairman “to bridge these divides to ensure that…no matter what zip code you live in, you will have the same opportunity to succeed and achieve the American dream.” McElveen summarized his platform as one focused on “education [e.g., pre-k], innovation [e.g., by ensuring that everyone has access to internet, plus promoting environmental sustainability and a “Green New Deal” for Fairfax – 40% renewables by 2030 and 100% renewables by 2050] and opportunity for all [e.g., by training students for high-tech jobs, having sufficient affordable housing].”
Finally, I’ll just not that, in my view, it’s FAR more important that the next Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have a strong progressive and environmental vision, such as the one laid out by Ryan McElveen this afternoon, rather than to simply be someone who’s been on the County Board for years or whatever. On that latter point, while I agree that experience is important, what we desperately need at this point in Fairfax County and throughout Virginia is boldly progressive and environmental leadership – not the “same-old, same-old.” That’s why I’m very intrigued by Ryan McElveen’s candidacy and am strongly considering supporting him. Check out the video from his kickoff and see what you think…