Mount Vernon To the Editor:
It is important for Mount Vernon residents to vote in the special election occurring next Tuesday. The issue is election to an at-large seat on the County School Board that was vacated when a Republican-endorsed School Board member resigned and moved out of our area. The sample ballot may be viewed at this link: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/sample_ballot/aug2017_special_sb_yellow.pdf
As usual, the sample ballot displays no political affiliations for the candidates, keeping up the illusion that the School Board is "non-partisan." Of course, this is a fiction as the dominant majority of the board is endorsed by the local Democratic Party. There are four candidates for this seat, but my political expert sources say that the contest is truly between the two candidates who appear on the sample ballots handed out at polling places by the local Democratic and Republican parties. The Democrat-endorsed candidate is Karen A. Keys-Gamarra while the Republican-endorsed candidate is Chris S. Grisafe.
Chris Grisafe is a Coast Guard veteran who has served on several local committees serving the County School Board including their School Bonds Committee, Superintendent's Business Advisory Committee and Adult Education Advisory Committee. He advocates fiscal responsibility, reduced class sizes and smart improvements in the teacher compensation package (salary and pension).
In the wake of the School Board's decision last month to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School at an estimated cost to taxpayers of up to $1 million, Ms. Keys-Gamarra is on record as supporting that decision as well as favoring renaming W.T. Woodson High School and Robert E. Lee High School. However, she stated: "I am not on record as saying that we need to take Fairfax County's funds to pay for that." Mr. Grisafe is on record as opposing the way the decision to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School was carried out, stating that the School Board failed to follow their own regulation for changing school names and that the process undertaken was not transparent, not inclusive and unnecessarily divisive. He is correct on all fronts.
I suggest supporting the School Board's illusion of non-partisanship and electing an at-large School Board member who will help balance out the political views of the current School Board. Vote for Chris Grisafe.
H. Jay Spiegel