Most of the candidates promising dramatic change are running under Lorenze’s tutelage, echoing messages she crafted about transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.
A McLean mother of three, Lorenze accuses the board of ignoring input from parents and teachers on student-discipline reform and other hot-button issues. She contends that the board’s oversight of Superintendent Jack D. Dale has been toothless and that it has unfairly allowed class sizes to balloon in wealthy neighborhoods (including her own) while schools in poor areas get more resources.
Much of Lorenze’s work is behind the scenes: writing campaign plans, analyzing election records, organizing volunteers. But she also broadcasts her views on her blog, Red Apple Mom, where she writes about incumbents she wants to depose.
Chief among her targets are Chairwoman Jane K. Strauss (Dranesville) and Vice Chairman Ilryong Moon (At-Large).
“Grandmother Janie Strauss is in her second decade on the School Board. Snooooozzzzzzeeeeee. Can’t she go do something else already?” Lorenze wrote in June. “Ilryong Moon — the human weather vane who can’t cast a vote until he sees which way the political winds are blowing — was first elected in 1995. Can’t he go do something else too?”
Moon, who said he is proud of his record as a deliberate thinker, shrugged off the attack. “I cannot get upset by one person’s personality,” he said. Strauss, an 18-year board veteran facing a tough reelection battle against Lorenze-backed candidate Louise Epstein, was more pointed.
“Catherine seeks out the divisive issues and then plays on them,” Strauss said. “If her candidates win, that’s the voice. Is that the voice we want in Fairfax County?”
Elizabeth Schultz, a Republican-endorsed candidate in the Springfield district, said that Lorenze helped her devise slogans and plan logistics early in the campaign. Lorenze has played less of a day-to-day role in recent weeks, Schultz said. “Once I got rolling, honestly, I sort of ran with it,” she said.
Megan McLaughlin, a Democratic-endorsed candidate for the Braddock seat, said she was “fortunate” to have early guidance from Lorenze “in how to get through a campaign cycle like this.” But McLaughlin said she has many other advisers as well.
Lorenze is managing the campaigns of Epstein for the Dranesville seat and Lolita Mancheno-Smoak for an at-large seat. She is also helping Sheree Brown-Kaplan and Steve Stuban in their at-large bids. Stuban has no partisan endorsement. The other three are Republican-backed. The School Board election is officially nonpartisan, but party politics often play a role.