School board candidates hoping to win the Fairfax County Republican Committee's endorsement for at-large seats made their pitches to party members Thursday night—with one notable exception.
Steve Stuban, whose family tragedy has become a lightning rod for supporters who to the school disciplinary process, could not speak at the meeting, due to restrictions on political activity by his employer, the Department of Defense. So instead, Springfield supervisor Pat Herrity and incumbent school board member Patty Reed (Providence District) spoke in support of Stuban's.
"Steve is running because he fears that unless change comes to the school board, other families will be forced to endure the sufferings he and his wife have been through," Herrity said. "But make no mistake—Steve is not a one-issue candidate."
Herrity said that Stuban would bring transparency and accountability to the budget process, reduce administrative expenses and "reign in Superintendent Jack Dale." Patty Reed also spoke briefly, praising Stuban's character.
The Republicans will endorse just three out of the six at-large candidates. Though Stuban cannot ask for the party's endorsement, he can accept it if it is offered. The endorsement from two incumbents, both popular within their party, will likely act as a major boost for his candidacy.
Still, there are five others pushing hard to obtain the party's endorsements. Though the school board positions are technically non-partisan, candidates in reality need support from political parties to help gain support and votes. Those at-large candidates spoke in support of their platforms last night at . Republicans will vote on at-large school board endorsements in July.
Sheree Kaplan-Brown: A mother of two children in Fairfax County Public Schools, Kaplan-Brown is active in the special education committee of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs. She said that the school board is too devoted to consensus. "I won't be another rubber-stamper," she said.
Lisa Fagan: The mother of three emphasized her work advocating for kids as a court-appointed special advocate and for those with disabilities in FCPS. "In this role, I see a lot of things that work, and don't work," she said. Fagan said that she wants to make sure there's opportunities for kids who want to pursue vocations instead of college after graduation.
Christina Guthrie: The former Marine worked for Sen. John McCain for a number of years, ultimately signing on to work for the Republican National Committee in his 2008 campaign. She said she wants to institute an external audit of the budget, add teachers' aides in all classrooms from Kindergarten through third grades, and make sure parents are promptly notified if their students are questioned for offenses. "We care about our kids, and we're their best advocate," she said.
Lin-Dai Kendall: The architect/interior designer said that she is running because she wants "to be, albeit in a very infinitesimal way, a contributor to the restoration of America to a constitutional republic. And that battle starts in our schools." Kendall said that she wants to make sure that students in Fairfax County Public Schools are prepared for the real world, and that there are less communities split by boundary changes.
Lolita Mancheno-Smoak: Mancheno-Smoak works as an adjunct professor at Strayer University and the University of Phoenix. She said she wants to send less money to administrative tasks, make sure FCPS grads are ready for college or the workforce after graduation, and communicate effectively with parents. "You won't have to FOIA me to get access," she said.