Eileen Filler-Corn Isn’t the Only Candidate for Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates

IMG_1900When she was elected Minority Leader last December, most Democrats assumed Eileen Filler-Corn would become the next Speaker of the House of Delegates once the Democrats gained the majority. Now that Tuesday’s election resulted in the Democrats having a 55 seat majority, however, it appears as though some other Delegates are throwing their hat in the ring.

Del. Lashrecse Aird from Petersburg has announced she’s running against Del. Filler-Corn and a few other delegates have expressed an interest in the position. Delegate Aird is a 33 year old who also works as the Chief of Staff at Richard Bland College and would become the first African-American to become Speaker if she were elected. In a political party that prides itself on being diverse, Aird is running as someone who would bring the perspective of a younger generation while keeping the caucus unified and fighting to ensure all Virginians have an opportunity to thrive.

Delegate Ken Plum, who’s the longest serving member of the House of Delegates, has also expressed an interest in becoming speaker. While Plum has served his district extremely well and deserves recognition for his leadership, I don’t foresee him being in serious contention.

When it looked like there was a chance the Democrats could gain control of the House after the 2017 elections, he was having casual conversations with other Delegates about stepping into the speaker’s role. The Republicans eventually held onto the House, however, and Del. Dave Toscano was reelected Minority Leader. When Toscano later stepped down, there were as many as five different candidates to fill the minority leader spot, but Plum wasn’t one of the heavily discussed candidates. Del. Sam Rosoul from southwest Virginia was the runner up in that vote and he’s expressed an interest in now becoming majority leader.

Considering how active Filler-Corn has been on the campaign trail while traveling all over the Commonwealth to help campaign for Democrats, however, it is rather interesting that Plum has brought up that he sees himself more as someone focused on governing rather than campaigning.

“I’m not running to be the guy who’s going to win the most votes for us in the next election,” Plum said according to the Virginia Mercury. “I’m going to be the guy who’s going to establish a record for us in how we conduct our business.”

I highly doubt this was intended to be a jab at Filler-Corn, but instead hints at how Plum’s role as a party elder and the institutional knowledge he has will prove beneficial even if he’s not the next speaker. No matter who the next speaker is, I strongly believe his experience should be relied upon while Democrats move forward in their new role.

Del. Luke Torian is another interesting candidate who’s expressed interest, but it appears as though he’s putting his name out there as a potential speaker in order to raise his profile. There have been several reports that he’s really interested in becoming the Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

If he did get in the race for speaker, Torian could face some difficulty rounding up support from progressives in the Democratic caucus. He has close ties to the Republican Party and was apparently approached by GOP leadership to run as a Republican before he was first elected back in 2009. The pastor from Prince William County also seconded the nomination of Kirk Cox to become speaker in 2018 and the Republicans did give him some cozy committee appointments.

When the Democratic members of the House gather in Richmond for a caucus meeting, they’ll be voting on their new leadership. While I believe we have a variety of highly qualified candidates, Del. Filler-Corn is highly qualified and should become the next Speaker of the House of Delegates.

Not only did she do an effective job of managing the caucus during the last general assembly session, but Filler-Corn played an integral role in ensuring the Democrats won the majority in Tuesday’s elections. Her history of traveling all over the Commonwealth has allowed her to develop strong relationships with various delegates and a good understanding of the communities they represent. She’ll therefore prove to be an effective leader both legislatively and politically during her tenure as Speaker.

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Election Day Brought Joy to Virginia!!

Election Day is always one that’s rather exciting for those of us in politics because it’s what we’ve been working for the whole year (and in some cases, longer). But getting up at oh dark thirty to be all set up at the polls before they open at 6am and then spending all day on your feet greeting voters can be rather exhausting. I’m therefore still recovering from yesterday and its buildup.

For me, one of the great things about Election Day is being able to spend time with all the folks who are handing out sample ballots and do various other activities to help their candidates. I find it fascinating to hear what motivates them to spend the day standing out in the cold greeting folks, many of whom they’ve never met. Sometimes it’s a particular issue that got them involved while other times it’s a friendship with a particular candidate. I spent several hours with Supervisor Kathy Smith’s college roommate, for instance, who spent a couple days volunteering for her and does it every election. There’s usually at least something that’s sparked their interest though.

I’ll have some more stories from the election, breakdown of what the results mean, and what’s happening next over the next few days, but today’s being spent taking some time to rest up after the election.

I’ve met countless people who have been following the work I’ve been doing here and out in the community and it won’t be ending just because the election’s over. We still have the General Assembly session and our local government having to do the actual governing and, of course, the 2020 elections. So feel free to let me know about things you’d like to see covered and/or actions you’d like to see out in the community.

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In Final Days Before Election, School Board Candidate Laura Drain Keeps Bringing Up Transgender Athletes

One of the latest ways to prove you’re against equality for the transgender community is to bring up girls athletics. The anti-LGBT crowd claims having gender identity included in the school system’s non-discrimination policy will result in boys suddenly declaring themselves women simply so they can compete against girls in high school sports. This not only purposefully dismisses the trans community by implying they’re only transitioning for ulterior, sinister motives, but it’s also an issue that falls beyond the realm of the local school board.

High school sports in the Commonwealth of Virginia are governed by the VHSL, which is a state level organization. This is where the decision’s made regarding guidelines for how transgender students are allowed to participate in high school sports. Even if you believe there needs to be further discussion about how transgender students are allowed to participate in athletics, in other words, that discussion would take place with the VHSL and not with the Fairfax County School Board.

Dalia Palchick, a current school board member who’s running for the board of supervisors, put this extremely well at a recent forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. After highlighting how local government is “about very specific things” and “definitely not about ideology,” she highlighted how girls sports are not in the purview of local government.

“Girls sports are absolutely not anywhere in the purview of the board of supervisors. Not even on the school board,” Ms. Palchick said. “There’s the VHSL. It’s a state thing and so I just want to be clear about what we do do here.”

With that it mind, Republican school board candidate Laura Drain has still been commenting all over social media recently about how she believes transgender women competing in sports will result in “a disadvantage for the teenage girls.” At one point, she even deliberately misquoted a prominent transgender woman in the Fairfax community in a desperate attempt to score some political points. She’s either unaware of how the school board doesn’t govern participation in high school sports, or she simply doesn’t care and is trying to drag the issue into the debate anyways. Neither option is good.

Considering how the VHSL’s role has been brought up time and time again, it’s very likely she was just trying to drag the issue into the debate. In the final days before the election, this allows her to send a message to her anti-LGBT base while also trying to scare some moderates into thinking her opponents are trying to “erase womanhood.”

This isn’t just a one time thing for Ms. Drain and members of the Fairfax County Republican Party. Senior staff members of the Family Research Council, a designated hate group that’s primary mission has been to denigrate LGBT people, actually hosted a meet and greet for her at their home. And her fellow Republican Elizabeth Schultz actually skipped events at a school in her district in order to host an event with the same FRC staff member. Andi Bayer, another Republican school board candidate, even declared LGBT students to be “the loudest special interest group” and claimed we should “stop wasting on time” on promoting equality. It’s therefore clear Drain and other Fairfax County Republicans are intent on spreading an anti-LGBT message.

For someone who claims it’s Democrats who have been promoting “a radical agenda” and are trying to distract from the school board’s actual mission, it’s very telling that Drain is promoting the anti-trans messaging in the final days before the election. She couldn’t even be bothered to show up at a recent League of Women Voters forum for candidates in the Hunter Mill district, but now she’s mysteriously found the time to spread misinformation about a policy which the school board doesn’t even set. This shows where her priorities lie and is a prime example of why she doesn’t belong on the Fairfax County School Board.

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Arthur Purves Illustrates the Current State of the Fairfax County Republican Party

While most folks believe Senator Janet Howell will coast to reelection in the 32nd District since her opponent is a repeat candidate who has hardly any money backing his campaign, the rhetoric used by Arthur Purves is a prime example of the candidates the Republican Party has been putting forward this year.

In a recent forum hosted by the League of Women Voters, Purves answered a question about gun violence by claiming it’s a result of the Lord’s Prayer being taken out of our schools. As if it weren’t enough to make that claim once, he doubled down on the answer during his closing statement.

“When I grew up in DC public schools and the bible was on the teacher’s desk and we said the Lord’s Prayer every morning, we didn’t have to cower in the corner worrying about gun invasions,” Purves said. “This is a spiritual problem.”

While claiming that the gun violence epidemic is invading our schools because we’re no longer saying “the Lord’s Prayer every morning,” Purves also went on to imply it’s a bad thing that Sen. Howell wants the state to spend more money on education.

“She’s outraged that we’re not spending more on education,” Purves claimed. “Since she’s been in office, spending on schools has increased 50% more than population and inflation.”

Purves might very well be one of the few candidates this cycle who have actually suggested we shouldn’t want more investment in education. While candidates might disagree with how the money is spent, most understand that investing in our schools helps students thrive and go onto become productive members of society. Plus, the state sees a clear return on the investment in our children when businesses want to come to Virginia due to the quality schools we have and students obtain the skills needed to create their own businesses in the future.

Of course, Purves isn’t the only Republican candidate in Fairfax County who’s proven to be extremely out of touch with the community. Elizabeth Schultz has suggested both sides of the Holocaust need to be taught and said immigrants are bringing diseases into schools, Andi Bayer claimed we’re wasting money on teacher training and claimed diversity can be seen through the number of ethnic restaurants we have in Fairfax, and the Washington Post has called the Republicans out because so many of them are promoting a “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone.”

It’s one thing to disagree on the issues and one might even argue a vibrant debate will eventually lead to the best possible results for the community. The extreme and divisive rhetoric the Republicans are using is not only out of touch with the sense of the community, however, but it prevents any real discussion of the issues. With that in mind, here’s the video of how Arthur Purves decided to close out his portion of the League of Women Voters forum.

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Washington Post Endorses Dan Helmer and John Bell

With four days until the election, the Washington Post has weighed in on several of the crucial General Assembly races here in Northern Virginia. After calling out the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” resulting from the Republicans taking “a page from President Trump’s playbook of trafficking in fear, misinformation and demonization” while making its endorsements for the Fairfax County School Board last week, the Post has now endorsed Dan Helmer for the House of Delegates in the 40th District.

While announcing their endorsement, the Post highlighted how Tim Hugo’s opposed reasonable measures to curb gun violence, personally profited from campaign donations, and stood in the way of efforts to address traffic in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Hugo, who chairs the House GOP caucus, has systematically opposed exactly the sort of gun-safety measures that have broad support among Virginians, including requiring background checks for private firearms purchases. In the past, he also gained notoriety, including among fellow Republicans, for using campaign funds (read: special interest cash) to pay for daily expenses such as groceries, snacks and gas fill-ups. In addition, he impeded efforts to raise revenue to pay for road and other transportation improvements that would ease commutes for many of his own constituents.

In sharp contrast to Hugo’s record, the Post highlighted Helmer’s history of service and focused in on his support for reasonable measures to move forward on issues like gun violence.

Dan Helmer, a West Point graduate who had a meteoric career as an Army officer, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be a major upgrade. Mr. Helmer, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and a former Rhodes Scholar, has stressed non-extreme gun-control measures such as universal background checks and red-flag laws that empower police, with approval from judges, to confiscate weapons from individuals who pose an imminent risk to themselves and others.

As someone who grew up in the 40th District, I strongly support the Post’s endorsement and truly believe my childhood district would be well represented by Dan Helmer.

The Post also weighed in on the race in the 13th state Senate district, which is another district that I lived in for several years. In that race, the Post endorsed Delegate John Bell. They highlighted how Bell’s “a two-term member of the House of Delegates and former Air Force officer respected in Richmond for his even temper and smarts.” He stands in sharp contrast to and “would reflect the district’s views far better than Geary Higgins, the Republican candidate, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, who opposed the mere study of new local gun regulations.”

It’s worth noting that efforts to address the country’s gun violence epidemic was highlighted as a major factor in both endorsements. Republicans have been so opposed to even discussing the issue that they shut down a special session of the General Assembly after 90 minutes when the Virginia Beach shooting prompted calls for action. This likely means the only way we’ll see movement on reform will be if Democrats gain control of the General Assembly and the Post highlighted how specific Republican candidates would try to block action if they win on Tuesday.

Coming so close to the election, it’ll be interesting to see if the campaigns are able to use the endorsements effectively. There are massive Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts this weekend where volunteers will be talking with thousands of voters and the campaigns can obviously run digital ads, but there’s obviously not enough time to drop mail pieces highlighting the endorsement. That being said, the endorsements still carry weight with voters who might still be making up their mind and looking for information.

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Elizabeth Schultz Blames Everyone Else for Her Lack of Community Engagement

IMG_1624Most of the candidates endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Party for the school board this year have been ranting and raving about how Democrats have had a majority on the school board since it became an elected position back in the 1990’s. Priscilla DeStefano (one of the at-large candidates), for instance, went on a rant about it during a forum at Mantua Elementary School earlier this month and Elizabeth Schultz has frequently claimed the Democratic majority has “bullied” her and prevented any work from happening during her eight years on the board.

During forum hosted by the Springfield District Council on October 29th, Schultz continued using that messaging. After arguing that politics has no place on the school board, the ultra conservative school board member went on to claim Democrats were responsible for everything that she believe’s gone wrong with the school system.

“Being a board member doesn’t have anything to do with politics. That’s the problem,” Schultz claimed. “And there’s been one party that’s been in charge of the school system every single year since they were elected and many years actually before then when they were appointed.”

“The lack of planning time for teachers is because of one side,” Schultz said. “The lack of correct pay for teachers is because of one side. The lack of getting children off the pre-K waiting listing is because of one side. They are not delivering the solutions.”

She then went on to claim the reason she hasn’t been able to deliver for the Springfield district is because the rest of the school board refuses to even talk to her. “As long as they can get to seven [votes] without ever talking to anybody else,” Schultz claims the Democrats won’t even talk to her to consider the needs of her constituents.

Ironically, this comes from someone who was over 90 minutes late to at least two school board meetings in the last two weeks. If she isn’t even able to make it to meetings on time, it’s hard to imagine she’s truly aware of how her fellow board members are engaging each other and the general public. Commonsense suggests she’d likely play a larger role in the discussion if she’d simply show up on time to meetings the taxpayers are paying her to attend.

Of course, all this talk about partisanship and placing blame on the Democrats is a desperate attempt to suggest her opponents would put a partisan agenda ahead of engaging and representing the community. Both Kyle McDaniel, a former staffer to Republican supervisor Pat Herrity who’s now running against Schultz as an independent, and Laura Jane Cohen, a former teacher who’s the Democratic endorsed candidate, were quick to point out that it’s actually Elizabeth Schultz who’s failed to engage the general public

Kyle McDaniel even said her failure to engage the public was actually one of his major motivations for deciding to get into the race.

“Community engagement is critical and you can’t really represent people you don’t engage with,” McDaniel said. “That’s been one of the lacking issues, in my opinion, in the last eight years and one of my big motivations to run for this office.”

“Having worked for another person who represents this district on another board, I’ve learned that something as simple as a regular email newsletter” is extremely beneficial, Kyle said. He also stressed the importance of doing things like holding town halls (both in person one and over the phone), engaging on social media, and using a variety of other methods to reach out to the public.

After Kyle’s remarks, Schultz suggested the only reason she hasn’t engaged the public during her eight years on the board is because doesn’t have a half million dollar a year budget to spend on a staff.

“This is the problem with being on the outside looking in and having been the staff of someone who has a half a million dollars to staff his legislative and community outreach,” Schultz said. “It’s very easy to do community engagement when you have four, or five, or six, or seven staff members.”

She not only complained about the Board of Supervisors having a larger staff than the school board, but she grumbled about how she’s supposedly had “seven or eight executive assistants in the eight years” she’s been on the board. She suggested that this high turnover, the fact that members of the school board have to share staffers, and the lack of a large budget for staff are the reasons she hasn’t been showing up to PTA meetings, attending events at local schools, consistently holding community offices hours, or doing other activities that’d allow her to learn about what’s important to her constituents.

Of course, other school board members are working with the same tools and are able to find time to engage the community. Plus, Schultz can’t really be that hard pressed to find the time because she managed to skip a digital citizenship week event at Centreville High School a couple weeks ago in order to host an event with staff members from a designated hate group. This all suggests that she simply hasn’t prioritized engaging the community in an authentic manner.

Engaging the community also doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money. As Laura Jane Cohen pointed out during the Springfield District Council forum, one of the ways a school board member can engage the community is by making appointments to the various citizen advisory committees. Schultz, however, hasn’t even bothered to do that.

“One of the first ways that we engage community members is by having these advisory committees to the school board,” Laura Jane said. “Unfortunately our school board member has been a chronic non-filler of appointments. We currently have four of the ten appointments where there is no one from the Springfield District sitting on them.”

“Our AAPAC, which is our advanced academics, hasn’t been filled in Springfield since 2016,” Laura Jane highlighted. “Our C-TEC, which I currently sit on, our career and technical education; no appointments since 2017. Our ACE committee, adult and community education; vacant since 2017. Our SHAC, student health advisory; nobody on there this year.”

“So making sure that we put our community members on these committees so we can have that interplay and advice from those committees is essential,” Laura Jane said showing a very easy way for a school board member to engage the community without a large staff or budget.

In other words, there are plenty of easy ways for a school board member to engage the public even though the Board of Supervisors has a bigger budget and more staff. As Kyle McDaniel put it later in the forum, “it doesn’t cost a half million dollars to send out an email.” Elizabeth Schultz has simply decided not to engage her constituents and is trying to shift the blame onto everyone else in order to avoid taking any responsibility for her time in office.

But if you want to see Schultz rant about how everyone else is to blame for her failure to engage the public and produce results during her time on the school board, here’s video of her closing statement from the Springfield District Council forum.

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Video: John Foust Discusses His Record While Ed Martin Launches Attacks

As I said in an earlier post, there were some very clear differences between the candidates in the race to represent Dranesville on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Not only did Supervisor John Foust disagree with Ed Martin on an ordinance limiting the interaction local law enforcement has with ICE, but the two also had a completely different approach to answering questions during the forum.

Supervisor Foust, for instance, used his opening statement to give a little bit of background about himself before going into his record. He was the first in his family to go to college, for instance, which he apparently paid for “by working in the steel mills and on the rail road” in Pennsylvania. He then worked for a utility company while going to law school and earning his MBA at night before moving to Northern Virginia.

Once he came to Fairfax with his wife over 35 years ago, John became extremely active in the community. Over time, he served as the president of the McLean Citizens Association, was a soccer coach and scout leader, and was involved in a variety of other community organizations. He was then elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2007 and was reelected in 2011 and 2015.

Among the points he highlighted during his opening statement, Foust helped secure $300 million for the widening of Route 7, which increased capacity by 50% and helped reduce the amount of cut through traffic in McLean and Great Falls neighborhoods. He also played a role in getting full day kindergarten, which was crucial for Dranesville because many of its schools were last on the list to receive it in Fairfax County. Plus, he played a role in creating 82 units of independent living for low income seniors at the Lewinsville Center on Great Falls Street, increasing parking for Metro by 711 spaces, and funding the Springhill Rec Center that serves the community.

While Foust was focused in on his record during his opening statement, Ed Martin decided to start his portion of the forum off by launching attacks. After saying that he moved here three years ago after he “sorta bounced around” for awhile before his family finally “settled down our life,” Martin said he didn’t like the leadership Foust or other county officials were displaying.

“It didn’t take long for my wife and I, who had lived everywhere from Indonesia to London and Italy, all over the country, to realize there were some things wrong with leadership in this county,” the candidate said raising questions about why he picked the county to “settle down” in if the leadership was so bad. “My name is Ed Martin and I’m running for supervisor because I believe we can do dramatically better. And not just for the developers and not just for folks who have kinda outside interests coming here, but for all of you.”

This echoes the talking points that have been discussed here in previous posts. Andi Bayer, for instance, claims outside money and special interest groups our education curriculum and Elizabeth Schultz says wealthy Jewish people are funding the opposition to her campaign. In other words, he might be relatively new to Northern Virginia and is apparently disgusted with community leaders, but he’s certainly picked up on the talking points promoted by the Fairfax County Republican Party relatively quickly.

He continued with the Republican talking points by bashing Foust and the Democrats for supposedly only looking out for the best interests of developers.

“The priorities of the Board of Supervisors is spending billions on the things that they think might deliver equity and help developers, and have some vision that sometimes we don’t even know,” Martin claimed. He also claimed that “they’re gonna put in low income subsidized housing and they’re gonna price you out of your home.”

His comments there were a prime example of how strongly Martin wanted to launch attacks instead of actually discussing policy. In the same sentence, he attacked Foust for promoting low income housing (which would help people afford to live here) but claimed he’s “gonna price you out of your home.” It’s almost like he was trying to bash poor people who need some help while also claiming Foust is too cozy with developers.

Martin went on to claim that Fairfax County is crime ridden, which again raises questions about why he’d therefore want to “settle down” here. He’d later echo this sentiment during the Q&A portion of the forum while saying that immigrants were responsible for crime because they were gang members. On top of that, he claimed we were having budget issues because immigrants were in our schools.

In what might be the most traditional Republican talking point of all, Martin went on to say lowering taxes was the only way to solve all these blights on the community he sees in Fairfax.

“What we need to have a golden age for our kids, for ourselves, and especially our seniors, is we have to have less taxes,” he concluded. “We have to have less spending and we have to spend in the right priorities.”

While Ed Martin is quick to point out what he thinks is wrong with Fairfax County, he failed to truly present a vision of how we can continue having a community where residents thrive. Supervisor Foust, however, talked about how he has the record to improve things that need to be addressed and the vision to keep Fairfax a community where folks like his opponent have moved to in recent years to raise their family.

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Video: Elaine Tholen’s Opening Statement at MCA Forum

At a recent forum hosted by the McLean Citizens Association for candidates running for the Dranesville district seat on the Fairfax County School Board, Elaine Tholen made it clear that she’s a candidate who has the background and vision necessary to be a productive board member. In addition to laying out her work in the education field as a teacher in other positions and time in community leadership positions, Elaine used her opening statement to tell the audience she’s running for school board because she wants “to see our schools do the best job possible to prepare our sons and daughters to be engaged, productive, and happy citizens of our society.”

“I come before you tonight with a big ask,” Tholen added. “I ask you to work with me to build inclusive neighborhood schools, with strong community partnerships for all of our students across Dranesville. I ask you to help me ensure that our students have the supports that they need to navigate the sometimes challenging, stressful, and uncertain years of schooling that they will go through before they leave us for college or other endeavors.”

She also highlighted the work that needs to be done to ensure “teachers are taken care of, that they have a living wage, and that they have the support staff they need to do the best job possible.” Furthermore, Elaine said the school board should look at school infrastructure so they can help address overcrowded schools and the issues that result for schools being over capacity, the maintenance issues that might be costing taxpayers money, and how the school system can be a leader in sustainability.

Of course, Elaine said all of this needs to be done while focusing in on preparing students for the “workforce of tomorrow” and ensuring they’re ready “to go onto college, community college, or straight to a good paying job.”

I’ll be posting more about the Q&A portion of the forum soon, but here’s video of Elaine Thoen’s opening statement in the meantime.

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Andi Bayer Says We Should “Follow the Money” to See Who’s Influencing FLE (Sex Ed) Curriculum

IMG_1216Republicans in Fairfax County have been sending out antisemitic dog whistles throughout the entire campaign. It even got to the point where Elizabeth Schultz received criticism for her remarks on how the Holocaust is taught in schools and responded by saying wealthy Jews are funding “hard left advocacy groups” that oppose her campaign and are supposedly using methods promoted by a Jewish community organizer that she says amount to nothing more than “a tired bag of Saul Alinsky tricks.”

Andi Bayer has now joined the effort to say outside money is influence our schools and even said it’s invading the material taught in the classroom. At a recent forum at Mantua Elementary School, she said the Family Life Education (aka FLE or Sex Ed) curriculum has become “anything goes, anything’s right, nothing’s wrong” that will lead to kids becoming “more curious” and “more promiscuous.” She then said you have to “follow the money” to see why it’s changed.

“All you have to do is look at who’s profiting. All you have to do is follow the money,” Bayer told the audience. “All you have to do is look at the special interest groups that control these programs. Who writes them. Who teaches them.”

Of course, in addition to all the claims the Republicans have been making about wealthy Jewish people trying to influence elections here in Fairfax, Bayer has declared LGBT students to be “the loudest special interest group” and said “we should stop wasting our time” on inclusiveness. So this could have also been who she was saying the “special interest groups” she claims are influencing the curriculum. This would fit right in line with how Elizabeth Schultz skipped an event at Centreville High School to host an anti-LGBT meeting with staff from a designated hate group and other Republicans have opposed mentioning same sex couples in the FLE curriculum.

What this all means is that while Andi Bayer and the other Republican school board candidates have claimed Democrats are playing politics with the school system, they’re the ones sending antisemitic dog whistles about people profiting off of curriculum they don’t agree with. And as if that isn’t enough, they’re also actively trying to villianize LGBT students. This type of behavior has absolutely no place in our political discourse, especially when it comes to our schools.

For those who are interested, here’s the full video of her remarks.

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Vinson Palathingal Opposes Slight Boundary Changes “Even If We Have to Have Trailers”

IMG_1241Anybody who’s been following the school board races in Fairfax County this year knows overcrowded schools have been a big topic of conversation. The school system currently has over 750 classrooms in trailers because so many of our schools are over capacity. For a variety of reasons, the community is upset with this reliance on trailers and wants the school board to address the situation.

One possible solution would be making some slight adjustments to school boundaries. A prime example of this can be seen with McLean and Langley High Schools. McLean is extremely overcrowded while Langley is actually well under capacity, so the board is consider making some boundary changes to move students from McLean over to Langley. The school system still has to take a look at why so many of our schools are overcrowded and consider how to best move forward on the issue, this could help ease the burden in the meantime.

The Republicans running for school board, however, have showed they’re willing to negatively impact our schools in order to maintain their opposition to any even modest boundary changes. At a forum held at Mantua Elementary School on October 20, candidates were asked if they’d consider minor boundary changes to help address overcrowded schools. Vinson Palathingal said he’d oppose the changes, “even if we have to have trailers.”

“If I am part of the school board, that allows us to have community schools as the policy,” Palathingal said. “Then that’s the policy, that we keep community schools. Period. Even if we have to have trailers. Whatever we have to do.”

Palathingal’s statement does two things. First, it implies that folks are actually suggesting we split up neighborhoods and bus kids all over the county. This is completely false. In the case of McLean and Langley High Schools, for instance, many of the neighborhoods that would move from McLean to Langley already have relationships with the Langley High community through swim teams and things like that.

Secondly, he clearly states he’s so committed to stopping boundary changes that he’ll oppose them “even if we have to have trailers. Whatever we have to do.” Of course, he says this even though he’s been one of several Republican candidates who are constantly attacking the current school board for the high number of trailers. This makes it painfully obvious that Palathingal is more interested in scoring political points than finding actual solutions.

In attempt to score even more political points off the topic, he proceeded to suggest Democrats were only considering boundary changes so they could conduct some social engineering.

“We are not play around with the boundary policy based on socio-economic or whatever other criteria they are trying to bring in,” he said in an attempt to suggest Democrats are up to something evil. In answers to other questions at the forum, he said Democrats were promoting “a radical agenda” and he’s consistently echoed this sentiment while out on the campaign trail.

Of course, this is completely off base and doesn’t represent what folks who support the One Fairfax policy are trying to do. One Fairfax is simply a policy that encourages our elected officials to consider how policies like boundary changes might impact communities whose voices aren’t traditionally heard by our leaders for whatever reason. In other words, this could help to prevent the board’s decisions from having unintended negative consequences.

Putting it that way, however, doesn’t allow the Republicans to stir up their base of supporters and get them energized in the lead up to election day. Palathingal and his fellow Republicans would therefore much rather support a policy agenda that keeps students in trailers instead of making tough decisions that could improve their educational experience.

For those who are interested, here’s the video of Palathingal’s remarks.

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