The Prince William County School Board may be on summer break, but behind the scenes, candidates for the upcoming elections are working to secure endorsements, raise money and lay a foundation for the fall campaign.
The county's two teachers unions, the Prince William Education Association and the Prince William Federation of Teachers, have made their endorsements. The Republican Committee of Prince William also endorsed some candidates who asked to be considered, said Chairman William J. Becker.
Dennis C. Stewart, 48, a computer specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, received support from both unions for his run to represent the Woodbridge District. Incumbent Steven Keen, 44, a retail manager, has intentionally stayed away from the endorsement process.
"The teachers unions are interested in what's good for the teachers, not necessarily what's good for the students," Keen said. "I'm not going to be beholden to anyone else but the voters."
Stewart said his endorsements doesn't mean he supports everything the unions ask for.
"But you can't just ignore one segment. When you say you're not going to be beholden to them, what you're really saying is, 'I'm going to ignore them,' " Stewart said.
In addition to Stewart, the Education Association endorsements include incumbents Lyle G. Beefelt (Brentsville), 39, a financial analyst; and John David Allen Sr. (Coles), 54, a property manager. It also endorses Gail Johnson, 55, a business owner, in the Gainesville District; Mary Williams, a retired Prince William teacher, in the Neabsco District; and Keith Scarborough, 46, a lawyer, in the Occoquan District.
The Federation of Teachers made two different choices from the Education Association. It endorsed Diane M. Tramel, 47, a nurse, in the Coles District; and Carlos Labiosa, 52, a property manager, in the Neabsco District.
The School Board races are nonpartisan, but some candidates made it a point to go after the endorsement of the Republican Party. The county Democratic Party has not made any endorsements.
"I was really looking for the Republican support," said Beefelt, a former GOP district chairman who recently gained the party's endorsement. "It's where I come from. I call it truth in advertising."
Beefelt has one opponent, James L. Vencill, 43, a computer consultant.
Other GOP endorsements included Tramel; Steve Wassenberg, 57, a retired Navy officer, in the Occoquan District; and Don Richardson, 42, a software engineer, in Gainesville District.
Becker, the party chairman, said that candidates weren't asked to follow a slate of mandates but that they were asked questions by individual party members who then voted their approval or disapproval.