“There were so many instances where people could have done the right thing, and they did not,” Stuban said. Now Stuban, who has never sought elective office, is running for the Fairfax County School Board, at least in part because of what happened to his son.
If successful, he would be responsible for overseeing Superintendent Jack D. Dale, whose administration and policies had such an impact on Stuban’s son.
Stuban is one of several political newcomers whose entry into the normally sleepy School Board elections has transformed them into this year’s marquee event in Fairfax politics in November, potentially overshadowing the races for the more powerful Board of Supervisors, which governs the county of more than 1 million residents.
What’s at stake is control over one of the nation’s largest school districts at a time when school reform is in the national spotlight. Although the races are nonpartisan, Republicans in particular are hoping that some newcomers may lay the groundwork for future political gains in a county that tilts Democratic.
Elizabeth Schultz, who is also a first-time candidate, launched her School Board candidacy in the wake of an emotional but losing battle against closing Clifton Elementary School. Another critic-turned-candidate is Megan McLaughlin, who co-founded
, an advocacy group of parents who worked to overhaul grading policies.
Ryan McElveen, a recent graduate of the Fairfax public schools, is entering his first political campaign because, among other things, he said he thinks the district was wrong to impose a $100 fee on students who play team sports.
“It’s outrageous,” said McElveen, 25, whom the county’s Democratic Party chief has called a “rising star.” “When we have an obesity epidemic, we want to encourage students to be active.”
Others could still step forward before the Aug. 23 deadline to register for Fairfax offices. Almost all local offices in Fairfax are up for grabs this fall, and an intense fight is underway for control of the state Senate, but the School Board races have attracted especially keen interest for a variety of reasons.
For one thing, even some Republicans acknowledge that their party faces challenging odds in changing the balance on the county’s governing body, with most interest focused on the battle over Republican Supervisor John C. Cook’s seat in the swing Braddock District. Another reason may simply be the large number of open seats on the 12-member School Board, because half of its members chose to step down when their terms end Dec. 31.