Home 2023 Elections Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume XIX (Focus on “some of the outstanding...

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume XIX (Focus on “some of the outstanding and courageous candidates running for School Board”)

Anne Donohue, Carol Medawar, Samantha Newell, Sandy Anderson, Antonia Saunders


From Del. Rip Sullivan’s BLUE DOMINION PAC:

Every time I think I have a tough job in the General Assembly I think of our School Board members. The good ones simply want to help our kids, value and respect our teachers, and work to continually improve our outstanding public schools. But for the last several years they have instead had to endure the culture war that has been inflicted on our School Boards for political gain and to resist efforts to ostracize vulnerable kids, rewrite history, ban books, and divide our communities using our children as pawns.

This week we focus on some of the outstanding and courageous candidates running for School Board who have been endorsed by their local Democratic Party. These races are crucial–for our kids, our schools, and our up-ballot races.

And if you want proof of the lengths the Republicans are willing to go to wreak havoc on our School Boards and our School Board elections, just take a look at what is going on in Fairfax. Marcia St. John-Cunning, the Democratic candidate running for the Franconia District seat on the School Board, was disqualified at the request of the Republican party less than two weeks before the election due to a technical error with her ballot signatures–which were submitted and approved months ago. Thousands of voters have already voted, and will be disenfranchised by this action. Read more about it hereYou can still vote for Marcia as a write-in candidate– filling in the bubble next to her name does NOT count as a vote for her.

The stakes on November 7 are high up and down the ballot, and the power to elect Democrats lies in your hands. It is the time, donations, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.

 Loudoun County School Board in the Leesburg District

Meet the candidate: Anne Donohue

Anne is a proud parent of two elementary school students, a career government attorney, and a community volunteer who believes deeply in the value of public education, giving back to her community, and the importance of public service, which is why she is running for the at-large seat on the Loudoun County School Board.  Anne grew up in a conservative farming community in the Midwest.  She attended K-12 public schools, obtained a scholarship to attend Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and then went on to law school to pursue her dream of becoming a prosecutor.  In 2014, Anne moved to Leesburg with her spouse, who was born and raised in Loudoun and is a graduate of Loudoun County Public Schools.  She works as a national security attorney for the federal government and is an adjunct professor of legal writing at the George Washington University Law School.  During her years in Loudoun, Anne has been an active volunteer with many local organizations, including the Loudoun County Animal Shelter, Loudoun NAACP, Loudoun Moms Demand Action, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Northern Virginia Cake4Kids, local youth sports, and the Loudoun Chorale.  She also helps out regularly at her children’s school, and spent several years volunteering as an ESL instructor.  She and her spouse live in the Leesburg area with their two kids, plus three cats, a rabbit, a guinea pig, five chickens, two beehives, and a peacock.

Why Anne is running for School Board:

Anne knows the power that an excellent public education has to open doors and change people’s lives.  A great public education prepares students to succeed in the world, which allows them to support themselves and their families, and to give back to their communities.  EVERY child deserves real access to those opportunities.  Anne is running to make sure they get it, by focusing on safety, inclusion, supporting educators, and restoring civil discourse.  Anne was approached by some of her friends and fellow Moms Demand Action volunteers about potentially running for School Board.  Although she did not say yes initially, Anne knew there are many families in Loudoun, like hers, who value diversity, appreciate our educators, and are angry at the attacks directed at our public education system.  Anne wanted a different choice to represent her on the School Board, and suspected others did as well, so she decided to be that choice.

About Loudoun County:

Loudoun County covers more than 500 beautiful square miles about an hour northwest of Washington, D.C., and is home to more than 420,000 residents.  For decades it had a much smaller population, a rural way of life, and was reliably conservative.  The population began to increase significantly in the late 1990s, and the county started trending blue around 2008.  Loudoun has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last 4 presidential elections.  Loudoun also voted for Terry McAuliffe for Governor in 2021, but by a smaller margin than the recent presidential outcomes.  Loudoun County Public Schools is the largest employer in the county, with approximately 12,000 employees, and educating 82,000 students.

Who Anne is up against: 

The current incumbent is not running for re-election.  Anne’s opponent is Michael Rivera, who ran unsuccessfully for the Leesburg District seat on the Loudoun County School Board in a special election in November 2022.  He has no experience as an educator but has made frequent appearances on Fox News.  He is running on a “parents’ rights” platform, advocates banning books, is opposed to respecting the dignity of LGBTQ+ students, says that racial discrimination isn’t real, and called Black Lives Matter a hate group.  He will not represent the interests of all Loudoun kids, and we cannot let him win!

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

Spotsylvania County School Board in the Courtland District

Meet the candidate: Carol Medawar

Carol is now in her 28th year in education and works as an Instructional Math Coach in a northern Virginia school division.  Carol has a Bachelor of Science Degree from West Virginia University, a Master’s of Education in Instructional Technology, from George Mason University, and a PhD in Instructional Leadership from VCU.  Carol’s research has been focused on STEM education across Virginia and how to connect more students to these high-demand fields in our area.  She believes strongly that all students should have pathways in K-12 education that lead to both career and college readiness.  She has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels as well as having taught special education.  She believes her extensive background in education is needed on the Spotsylvania School board to refocus the work on our students and away from political agendas and distractions.  She wants to get us out of the news for negative stories about book bans and instead highlight our educators’ and students’ successes.  Her top priorities are attracting and retaining highly qualified educators, school health and safety, and bringing a consensus-building style of leadership back to our school board.

The Courtland District seat is an open seat being vacated by one of the members of the school board who has made international headlines for his call to ban and burn books.  He is now the chair of the local republican committee.

Who Carol is up against:

Carol’s opponent is David Ross, the current chair of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors where he has spent the last 12 years underfunding our school division, and the local library system.  He ran for Congress last year in the Republican primary to challenge Abigail Spanberger in SD7. During that campaign he advocated for closing the Department of Education, school choice initiatives, and that the separation of church and state is illegal.

Contact the campaign: here

Contribute: here


Chesterfield County School Board in the Bermuda District

Meet the candidate: Antonia Saunders

Antonia Saunder is running for School Board, in the Bermuda District of Chesterfield County. Chesterfield County Public Schools is the largest school system in the region and serves more than 64,000 of the county’s students. She has been a resident of Chesterfield County for over 15 years. As a mother of five children, all of whom attended Chesterfield County Public Schools, she knows all too well the challenges that impact our children. She has a thorough understanding of the functionality of the school system at each level: elementary, middle, and high school. She is an autism and special education advocate, with a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by children with special needs and how impactful of a role the schools and community play in their development. In addition, she is also a mental health professional with over 18 years of providing facility- and home-based care to vulnerable children who reside within our community.

Antonia serves as a member of the education committee of the Virginia NAACP and Chesterfield Branch NAACP. As an Alum, she also serves on the Educational Advisory Committee at Bryant & Stratton College. As the next School Board Representative, she will continue to advocate for our children and families in the Bermuda District. With dedication and commitment, she will aid in the continuous growth within the Chesterfield County community, while propelling our children into a bright and promising future.

Who Antonia is up against:

Her opponent is an incumbent Ann Coker, who does not represent the values of the Bermuda District of Chesterfield County.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

Fairfax County School Board in the Springfield District

Meet the candidate: Sandy Anderson

Sandy Anderson was born and raised in the Springfield District of Fairfax County and is proud to be raising her family here after a brief time away while her husband served in the army. Throughout her career, she has always worked through the success of kids, starting as an instructor and camp director in the Fairfax County Park Authority, teaching college English, and now as a STEM curriculum developer and president of the Parent-Teacher Organization.

Sandy is running for School Board because she believes that we have a responsibility to our kids and their teachers to prepare them to be successful adults. She will prioritize finding long-term and sustainable ways to increase teacher retention, work to keep public funding in public education, and improve communication between the school system and students, parents, teachers, and other community members. Sandy wants to replicate the “stay” interviews conducted by the Fairfax County Health Department with FCPS teachers and staff to learn what – in addition to pay – can improve teaching conditions and retention. She is tired of political games, with students, teachers, and taxpayers paying the price, and will work to provide each group with the support they need to succeed.

About the Springfield District in Fairfax County:

Sandy is running in the Springfield District in Fairfax County, which sent a Republican to the School Board until 2019. The Springfield District includes West Springfield, Fair Oaks, Clifton, and parts of Burke and Fairfax Station. Unlike the rest of the county, which has a 2:1 Democrat to Republican advantage, the Springfield District has a Democratic advantage of 3:2. The Democrat who flipped the Springfield School Board seat in 2019 has proven that Springfield voters support public funding for public education and other Democratic priorities, and Sandy is excited to continue this legacy.

Who Sandy is up against:

Sandy is running against Debra Tisler, a Moms for Liberty supporter whose social media presence and appearance on Sebastian Gorka’s radio show suggest that she is much more conservative than her campaign is trying to portray. Debra has stated that she is more qualified than Sandy because she is a former FCPS teacher, but Sandy is not only a former teacher, but also a current FCPS parent and FCPS Parent-Teacher Organization President. Debra supports school choice, which would take public funding and redirect it from public schools to private schools. She’s made clear that she wants to work closely with Governor Youngkin and his Department of Education on their stated vision for gutting public school funding and consistently says that she believes our schools are failing, without providing genuine examples of failure nor solutions for success.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

Roanoke County School Board in the Catawba District

Meet the candidate: Samantha Newell

Samantha Newell is a write-in candidate for the Roanoke County School Board in the Catawba District. She is running her campaign against the current Chair of the Board, Brent Hudson. For too long, administrators have ignored the voices of our experienced and dedicated teachers. Samantha is committed to working directly with teachers to create policies that support them and the students they care about.

Teachers know what their students need and Samantha will work hard to make sure they get it! No two students are alike. Samantha supports providing teachers and administrators the resources they need to ensure each student can learn in the way that suits them best. The needs in Catawba do not necessarily reflect the needs in Cave Spring. Samantha wants to work with districts to ensure that each district’s individual priorities are met in order to build a stronger Roanoke County for all.

As a parent and experienced coach, Samantha knows how important it is to listen to students. In our rapidly changing world, students need extra support to navigate the extremism that is plaguing our society. Asking children about their dreams, their experiences, and their needs is the best way to learn how to help them. By engaging students in a dialogue, Samantha hopes to provide new avenues for students to develop leadership skills and plan for their future in Roanoke County.

Who Samantha is up against:

Brent Hudson is backed by the Republican Party, and is known for flashing his sheriff’s badge and shouting the Moms For Liberty cry, “Parent’s Rights” during school board meetings. Under his leadership, he has ensured policies go through such as Youngkin’s harmful VDOE Transgender Model Policy, as well as a policy that bans rainbows from our schools.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

That’s it for Volume XIX of our Flip and Defend-A-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week until Election Day to share more about our great candidates. In the meantime, I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.

Project Blue Dominion is committed to supporting Democratic candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth. Join us. The fight to take back the majority is on.




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