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Moon, McElveen, Velkoff Win At-Large School Board Race

Seven candidates vied for three countywide spots

In one of the most watched Fairfax County races this season, Ilryong Moon, Ryan McElveen and Ted Velkoff walked away with victories in the at-large school board race Tuesday night.

It was the "most intense" Fairfax County School Board race in years, and also among the largest. Seven candidates sought the board's three at-large seats, two of them vacated by incumbents wh chose not to seek re-election.

But more than 11 candidates by the When , some candidates without party endorsements, though Steve Stuban was to make it to Election Day.

Candidates seemed driven by "big picture" issues that, in some cases, drew alliances across party lines, said Virginia Board of Education member Christian Braunlich, a former school board member, in an interview.

Particularly in the at-large race, all seven candidates landed on the same page on a number of different issues. Throughout the campaign season, all tended to think the board needs a better independent audit, all wanted to create an ombudsman position and all wanted to improve the relationship with parents and teachers.

Those goals attracted an untraditional group of candidates. 

Save incumbent Ilryong Moon, Democrat-endorsed Ted Velkoff, the former president of Chantilly High School's PTSA who also serves on a school board advisory council, and Republican-endorsed Sheree Brown-Kaplan, who worked on special education committees of the school board and Fairfax County Council of PTAs, many of the candidates did not have local PTA leadership experience or a track record voters could consider.

Instead, they touted other business and educational experience in an effort to appeal to voters looking for a "fresh perspective." Lolita Mancheno-Smoak is a business executive and online professor. McElveen is a Chinese language instructor and recent product of who has worked overseas and advocated for academic reform. Tea party favorite Lin-Dai Kendall is a small business owner and architect.

Stuban, an Army veteran employed by the Department of Defense, entered the race after sparked by , but he also became a symbol for the parent voice and community link some voters said they felt the school board lacked.

McElveen said many said his age might work against him, he thought it actually attacted voters looking for a new voice on the board.

He said having the support of party volunteers, particularly on election day, helped make a difference -- and may have been the major difference for Stuban.

"He ran a very impressive campaign, he was a great candidate" McElveen said. "But he didn't have [the same kind of] support."

Velkoff said a "more informed electorate" was the difference in his race.

Unofficial county results for the at-large race are below. Check Patch later for a look at how Tuesday's elections affected the school board as a whole.

School Board At Large


Sheree A. Brown-Kaplan 78,868 16% Precincts Reporting:
    234 of 239 (98%)
Lin-Dai Y. Kendall 61,153 12%
Lolita I. Mancheno-Smoak 67,688 14%
Ryan L. McElveen 83,998 17%
Ilryong Moon (Incumbent)
89,060 18%
Steven M. F. Stuban 36,226 7%
Theodore J. "Ted" Velkoff 82,299 16%

Source: Fairfax County Board of Elections

Kathy November 09, 2011 at 05:05 AM
Thanks, Erica! It was great seeing you tonight and what an exciting night it was! (Kathy Cutri)
Observer November 09, 2011 at 05:21 AM
Fairfax County voters haven't figured out yet that re-electing the people that keep giving you failure won't result in success. We just got what we deserve--more of the same. Forty years ago, Fairfax Public Schools were rated first in the nation. We are now in the middle of the pack and we will stay there because we are stupid voters. We actually don't know what makes a successful school system because it's been so long since we had one. We certainly haven't elected school boards that have a clue. We are so stupid we don't even know we are stupid.
Kathy November 09, 2011 at 05:48 AM
Observer, quite the contrary! FCPS continues to rank at the top! But you're correct, We did get what we deserve - some more fabulous people in office. I'd say if the public were unhappy with people in office and wanted change, they can vote. So those that cared came out and voted which is the right of all American citizens. I believe if you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain. The office goes to the majority votes.
Elizabeth Vittori November 09, 2011 at 06:27 AM
"I'd say if the public were unhappy with people in office and wanted change, they can vote." If anyone reading this finds the English language, please call 911 immediately.
Neighbor November 09, 2011 at 08:59 AM
FCPS continues to rank at the top ... of what, exactly? A failing public education system that has been ruined by decades of entrenched bureaucracy and union rule! Today we see the foolish vanity of our educators on full display. Fairfax County's loyal liberals keep voting for these losers. So the county gets what it deserves: a vastly overrated education system run by preening careerists who speak in code and serve themselves first. Too bad, Fairfax. You're stuck with us forever!
Michael November 09, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Sour grapes. Maybe the Tea Party isn't as big a movement as Fox News portrays it.
Just Wondering November 09, 2011 at 02:12 PM
When someone says FCPS ranks at the top or bottom, what rankings are being used? I'd love to see the data being referenced on both sides of these statements.
Melanie Meren November 09, 2011 at 02:28 PM
So heartened to see fairly-recent FCPS graduate Ryan McElveen win a seat. I hope he brings a fresh perspective on what it's like for students today in school.
Jim Daniels November 09, 2011 at 02:32 PM
As the parent of a son who has been in the Fairfax County public school system since 1999 I am very happy with the results here. Are there problems with the school system? Sure there are. What system does not have issues? I wish there was more focus on fundamentals in English classes for example. Some problems are outside of the control of the district, like the ridiculous SOL requirements that force students to spend 2 weeks a year memorizing random facts rather than actually learning. But overall I believe my son has received a top notch education from the Fairfax County public school system, and I think the current board membership has done an admirable job maintaining that high quality during a time of economic hardship and increasing stress on the school budget! And, given last nights results, apparently, I am not in the minority!
Phil Ingrassia November 09, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Congratulations to the winners -- especially all the new school board members. This was the most contested school board election that I have experienced since moving to NoVa 20-plus years ago. The combination of new board members, incumbents, and the hiring of a new superintendent will keep public attention on the FCPS system, which is a good thing.
Kevin Lawton November 09, 2011 at 03:09 PM
FCPS is in the middle of the pack? According to whose data? This school system continually ranks as one of the top school systems in the country. If you want voters to vote a certain way, you had better come armed with persuasive facts and arguments that show the positions of those that you support to be superior on more than just a superficial, wedge issue basis. As far as I'm concerned, congratulations are due to the majority of voters who made an informed decision based on the information that was available to them.
Kevin Lawton November 09, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Great points, Kathy. Had there been anything but wedge issues being bandied about by many of the school board challengers then, they might have been taken more seriously by the voter. As it stands now, post election day grumbling with regards to, "liberals this and liberals that", sound like nothing more than the ugly sour grapes that it is. The voter is to be commended with electing the best people available for the job.
Mozart November 09, 2011 at 04:38 PM
I am pleased that Ryan won a position. He probably worked harder than any other candidate in this election to get out, meet people, and make himself known. It's also gratifying that he fared particularly well in Dranesville, after he strongly defended the rationale for needs-based funding in FCPS that primarily benefits students in other parts of the county. .
Steve L November 09, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Newsweek is an easy source to reference for the highs. I'm interested in hearing more about the lows - are people just making stuff up or highlighting insignificant things which they then blow out of proportion?
warwick November 14, 2011 at 03:24 PM
I am VERY DISPLEASED that McElveen won. That happened simply because he was on the Democratic ballot, NOT because he has any depth of knowledge or background to serve. He's 25 and lacks substantive life and work experience. Any of the other At-Large candidates were better qualified candidates on those factors alone. What we now have is essentially a student rep that votes, which doesn’t seem appropriate for an At-Large position on the School Board. Despite all the talk about needs-based staffing, we had an opportunity to elect candidates who really understand and care about our at-risk, disadvantaged and underserved student populations. Mancheno-Smoak would have given a voice to our Hispanic population and Brown-Kaplan would have spoken up for students with disabilities. Unfortunately, voters let the blind faith in the sample ballot determine the outcome and our students were denied the expertise and advocacy of these two excellent candidates. BTW, NO candidate ever stated they opposed needs based staffing. You can hear each candidate speak in their words on this issue in interviews with Peggy Fox: http://wusa9.com/news/article/173510/373/Fairfax-County-School-Board-Elections-Next-Week.) The fear mongering over needs-based staffing was partisan politics pure and simple. McElveen merely played into that (which calls into question who well he will resist – while serving in a non-partisan position – the efforts of the party to influence the process).
warwick November 14, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I am very disheartened. Why? See my comments below.
Will Radle November 14, 2011 at 03:48 PM
We need to change the trend lines of divesting from education, increasing classroom sizes and lowering take home pay of teachers and school employees. Hopefully, the new SB and the old BoS will develop a better relationship moving forward as we invest in our community's highest priorities. A. WIll Radle, Jr. Creating a Culture of Listening http://fairfaxstation.patch.com/blog_posts/creating-a-culture-of-listening FairfaxAdvocates@gmail.com http://YouTube.com/WillRadle1
Kilgore November 14, 2011 at 03:55 PM
u mad?
warwick November 14, 2011 at 03:59 PM
FCPS just reported a huge increase, especially in 3rd grade, in the achievement gap on the history/social studies SOLs. Isn't it interesting that this data, which has been known to the administration, was only reported after the election. How can the public determine how well FCPS is performing OR make decisions as voters when this kind of vital information is withheld from them until after the election?
Will Radle November 14, 2011 at 05:02 PM
What do you think would happen if no one was handing out sample ballots at an election? Imagine voters making informed decisions, doing their homework. Obviously, both major parties hand out sample ballots for a reason. It's not because voters are happy. To the contrary, most people are displeased, many are angry at the direction politicians are taking our nation. People are not pleased with the insularity, division and power politics of our current culture. People do not feel heard. Working across politicial lines to provide alternatives, I remain focused on creating effective, sustainable solutions to the challenges confronting our community. A. Will Radle, Jr. Creating a Culture of Listening http://fairfaxstation.patch.com/blog_posts/creating-a-culture-of-listening FairfaxAdvocates@gmail.com http://YouTube.com/WillRadle1
Mozart November 14, 2011 at 11:35 PM
McElveen simply worked much harder during the campaign than the Republican candidates. Brown-Kaplan was a no-show at several events to which the At-Large candidates were invited. Kendall's views were too far to the right to appeal to most Fairfax voters. Mancheno-Smoak failed to convey a clear and consistent message in plain English. Stuban might have been a stronger candidate, but failed to obtain a Republican endorsement. I think you will be surprised by Ryan's independence and diligence but in any event blaming his election on "blind faith" is misguided. Disappointed Republicans need to look at the strength of the candidates they are fieldings and stop insulting local citizens after the results are in if they want to fare better in future elections.
warwick November 15, 2011 at 02:42 AM
I'm not a Republican. I'm a disappointed Democrat who believes the party did our kids and our school system a disservice in the At-Large candidates it fielded. (Maria Allen and Jeannie Armstrong would have been far better candidates in experience, knowledge and background.) It's an insult to the efforts of the other candidates to claim McElveen worked harder and spreading misinformation about Brown-Kaplan doesn't help your argument, Mozart. Go back and read all the press accounts of the various forums and you'll find her all but one that was covered. The bottom line is that she ran to ensure at least one School Board member understands special education and the needs of students with disabilities. Being the parent of one of those kids, I know that perspective is sorely lacking on the School Board. While this specific population and the quality of special education services in FCPS may not be high on your list, many of us felt her expertise was needed and she nearly beat out Velkoff for the third place position with the almost 81,500 votes she received from members of both parties.
Joette Bailey November 27, 2011 at 05:06 AM
I retired 2 years ago after teaching English in FCPS schools FOR FORTY YEARS! Unfunded requirements such as the S.O.L. testing, are a waste of time and resources. Some teachers and administrators are waaaay too flexible to avoid parental outrage if the kid screws up. That is such a mistake. Most staff do a great job. The single worst thing about FCPS is that many of their students won't do any work. That is why I decided to leave. However, FCPS was and still is one of the top 10 school systems in the U.S. They probably could be in the top 2 if they would stop dumbing down because parents get irate if their kids do poorly or misbehave. They need to find their backbones of previous decades.
Will Radle November 27, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Joette, thank you for teaching in our schools for FORTY YEARS! I agree with you on unfunded mandates from state and federal governments. SOL is negatively motivated to reduce resources for education. I wrote a comprehensive economic and fiscal plan in 2010. One component invests $100 billion annually to reward schools enabling our 50 million students in K-12 achieve grade level proficiency in reading and mathematics. Representative Moran submitted my plan to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis. "Solutions for an Enduring Nation" remains the only comprehensive economic and fiscal plan he has ever submitted to CBO in his time, over 20 years, on Capitol Hill. Thank you for your valuable service to our community. Together we will restore confidence in the future of our community and our nation. A. WIll Radle, Jr. Creating a Culture of Listening http://fairfaxstation.patch.com/blog_posts/creating-a-culture-of-listening FairfaxAdvocates@gmail.com http://YouTube.com/WillRadle1

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