See below for a very helpful “2023 Nonpartisan Fairfax County Voter Guide” for School Board candidates. The guide was put together by ACLU People Power Fairfax, 4PublicEducation and Stand and Deliver Virginia. Here’s some information about how the questionnaire was conducted:
“We submitted a questionnaire to all candidates for the Fairfax County School Board (SB), regardless oftheir party affiliation, asking for their positions on policies that have elicited passionate concern at SBmeetings. This Voter Guide includes all candidates who responded to the questionnaire by April 16 knownto be seeking At Large or individual District seats on the SB. Candidates who elected not to respond orwho filed after April 16 will be offered the opportunity for inclusion when the guide is updated prior to the November election. We were unable to contact two candidates, Geoffrey Akey and Kristin Ball, but will give them the opportunity for inclusion in our fall update to this Voter Guide.The responses below are verbatim with the exception that the formatting has been modified for consistency.”
Anyway, check it out, here and below. A few things that jumped out at me from looking at the responses include:
- Candidates who didn’t respond at all were Cassandra Aucoin (R), Saundra Davis (R), Linda Pellegrino (R) for the at-large School Board positions; Harold Sims (D) in Mt. Vernon District; Anthony Sabio (R) in Providence District; Debra Tisler (R) in Springfield District; Mark Tenney (D-is no longer a candidate) in Franconia District; Ricardy Anderson (D) in Mason District; Cynthia Walsh (R) in Sully District; and Harold Jackson (R) in Hunter Mill District. And obviously, don’t support any of the Republicans, as they would all be terrible for Fairfax County Public Schools.
- On environmental issues (“How will you assure that FCPS meets the climate recommendations for facilities and operations in the Joint Environmental Task Force Report, and assure that awareness of the climate crisis is an important part of the curriculum?”), four of the at-large Democratic candidates (Kyle McDaniel, Ryan McElveen, Ilryong Moon, Lawrence Webb) gave strong, detailed responses in my view (I’d rank McElveen #1 on this subject); while one Democratic candidate (Hamid Munir) simply responded, “I would work with the county and FCPS staff to ensure we continue the conversation of energy efficiency” (sorry, but speaking as an energy wonk who worked for 17+ years at the US Energy Information Administration, that’s not a serious response).
- On protecting and affirming LGBTQ+ students, the strongest responses in my view were by at-large Democratic candidates were by Ryan McElveen, Lawrence Webb and Kyle McDaniel – nice job! – followed by Ilryong Moon (kinda “meh” response) and Hamid Munir (who had a short, vague, non-specific response).
- On School Resource Officers, the strongest responses by at-large Democratic candidate were, in my view, by Kyle McDaniel, Lawrence Webb and Ryan McElveen, followed by Ilryong Moon and Hamid Munir.
- On addressing mental health needs, four candidates – Ilryong Moon, Ryan McElveen, Lawrence Webb and Kyle McDaniel – provided extensive, thoughtful responses, while Hamid Munir provided a shorter/less-detailed but satisfactory answer.
- On school safety, the best answers were by Kyle McDaniel and Ryan McElveen, followed by Ilryong Moon. I disagree with Hamid Munir’s response, which focuses heavily on SROs (and not mental health, etc.).
- On dealing with a growing teacher shortage, four of the candidates – Kyle McDaniel, Lawrence Webb Ryan McElveen, and Ilryong Moon – provided thoughtful, detailed responses, while one – Hamid Munir – didn’t.
- On “teach[ing] history that is factually accurate, inclusive and age appropriate,” Ryan McElveen provided the best response, followed by Lawrence Webb, Kyle McDaniel, Ilryong Moon and Hamid Munir.
- On “banning books and calls forexpanded parental rights,” three candidates – Ryan McElveen, Kyle McDaniel and Lawrence Webb – hit the nail on the head on this one; Ilryong Moon’s answer wasn’t quite as clear or strong; Hamid Munir’s response (“Reading lists will be made available to parents and substitutions can be made for books parents do not approve of”) was not not good at all.
- On “Special Education services,” very good answers by four of the candidates – Ryan McElveen, Kyle McDaniel and Lawrence Webb and Ilryong Moon – and another short, vague response by Hamid Munir (“The state and federal government need to help financially support these programs. There are
many needs in FCPS and we can’t provide the services needed without support from our partners”).
- On “alternatives to college prep,” excellent responses by four of the candidates – Ryan McElveen, Kyle McDaniel and Lawrence Webb and Ilryong Moon – and…a shorter, less detailed response by Hamid Munir.
- On “charter schools,” the best answers were by Lawrence Webb and Kyle McDaniel, followed by Ryan McElveen, Ilryong Moon and Hamid Munir (“I would have to see the application and judge it on independently. I have many questions aboutcharter schools and I look forward to the chance to learn more”)
- On “restoring civility,” excellent answers by Ryan McElveen (who knows all about this based on personal experience facing “hostility and hatred”), Kyle McDaniel (“I do not see right-wing agitatorsslowing down, in fact if anything they may become emboldened”), and then Ilryong Moon/Hamid Munir/Lawrence Webb.
So…overall, the consistently best answers were by McElveen, McDaniel and Webb, followed by Moon and…then a big gap to Munir. So, based on these responses, their websites, and in the case of previous School Board members their records while in office, I endorse/encourage everyone to support Ryan McElveen, Kyle McDaniel and Lawrence Webb for the Fairfax County Democratic at-large School Board endorsements. Note that voting in the endorsement process is being held from May 13 to May 20 online, with “an option for in-person voting on May 20th that will be announced to registered voters.” Make sure you vote for the candidates you think would be best for public education in Fairfax!