(Updated 4:15 p.m.) Are there too many Alexandria School Board Members? Should their terms be staggered and should districts be eliminated? The Board wants these questions answered by the time voters cast their ballots in November 2024.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the nine-person Board unanimously agreed to establish a process for asking the public these questions. The answers will inform a Board resolution that is expected to go before the Alexandria City Council next year and the Virginia General Assembly in 2024.
For years, the Board has weighed whether to restructure its composition and change the frequency of elections to try and reduce turnover. Last night, members tied Board turnover to a pattern of superintendent resignations and heightened anxiety among school staff.
“The impact that the Board turnover has on staff is extremely significant,” said Board Member Tammy Ignacio, who was an Alexandria City Public Schools administrator before retiring and running for office last year. “When you have a turnover of the board, you have a turnover of some staff and a turnover of leadership. It causes a lot of stress and anxiety on staff, and when that happens it impacts kids.”
For instance, six new members joined just three incumbents on the School Board after the November 2021 election. Board Members said school leadership suffers when more than half the Board is learning the ropes of the school system at one time.
“I can attest to the to the challenges that happen with with the high level of a learning curve that Board Members have to go through, the impact it has on staff, and in both of those cases we also had superintendents resign,” said Board Member Kelly Carmichael Booz, who has served two non-concurrent terms.
There were also five new Board Members elected in the 2018 election, five new Members in the 2015 election and seven new Members in the 2012 election.
There have also been three ACPS superintendents in the last decade, with a fourth set to be hired this spring.
“On average in ACPS, Superintendents resign nine months after a new School Board takes office,” notes an ACPS staff report. “Since 1994, four of the five superintendents left when the School Board turnover was five or more members.”
Since their first election in 1994, the city’s nine School Board members have served three-year terms for (three apiece in Districts A, B and C) with their elections and City Council’s held on the same day.
Last night, the Board reviewed some preliminary alternatives to the current election cycle, suggested by ACPS staff. They include:
- Three-year Board Member term options — The two members of one district would be up for election every year, starting in 2025, followed by the second district in 2026 and the third district in 2027
- Four-year Board Member term options — One district would be up for election every year, starting in 2025, followed by the second district in 2026, the third district in 2027 and the fourth in 2028. There would be no election in 2029, and the rotation would begin in 2030
- Four-year and only at-large positions — There would be five members up for election (selected randomly by the registrar) in 2026, no election in 2027, and the remaining four members up for election in 2028
Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-45) says that the concept of staggered terms makes sense, but said the option of having more elections for individual districts could confuse voters.
“If a single district was up for election every year as opposed to one seat, that could potentially lead to voter and candidate confusion, as many individuals don’t necessarily know what districts they reside in,” Bennett-Parker advised the Board.
Bennett-Parker serves in the legislature’s County, Cities and Towns Committee, which would would send forward the amendment to the Virginia Charter for the General Assembly for approval.
Alexandria Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker is running for reelection for Virginia’s 45th District, she announced on Wednesday.
Bennett-Parker will kick off her campaign formally on Jan. 7.
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of Alexandria and I’m going to work hard for them this session and in the future,” Bennett-Parker told ALXnow. “Among other items, I’m working on bills to increase access to mental health services, enhance gun safety, improve voting access for individuals with disabilities, prevent evictions, protect consumers from deceptive practices, address inland flooding, and support working families.”
Bennett-Parker won her seat in November 2021 by defeating Republican Justin “J.D.” Maddox in the general election and incumbent Democrat Mark Levine in the June primary. She began her political career four years ago when she was elected Alexandria’s vice mayorship in her first-ever campaign for office.
Bennett-Parker is now a substitute teacher for Alexandria City Public Schools and is a former co-leader of Together We Bake, a non-profit job training and personal development program for underserved women.
In her announcement, Bennett-Parker listed a number of endorsements, which are listed below.
- Congressman Don Beyer
- State Senator Adam Ebbin
- Delegate Charniele Herring
- Mayor Justin Wilson
- Vice Mayor Amy Jackson
- Councilman Canek Aguirre
- Councilmember Sarah Bagley
- Councilman John Taylor Chapman
- Councilwoman Alyia Gaskins
- Councilman Kirk McPike
- Sheriff Sean Casey
- Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter
- Clerk of Court Greg Parks
- School Board Chair Meagan Alderton
- School Board Vice Chair Jacinta Greene
- School Board Member Ashley Simpson Baird
- School Board Member Kelly Carmichael Booz
- School Board Member Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi
- School Board Member Christopher Harris
- School Board Member Michelle Rief
Conservative talking head Sean Hannity used Alexandria’s “I Voted” sticker in a segment attacking national elections, though why the city’s logo was used is never addressed in the ten-minute segment.
Hannity expressed frustration that some elections were still too close to call, which makes the use of Alexandria’s sticker all the more puzzling.
In Alexandria, it was an off-year election with only the 8th Congressional District on the ballot. Congressman Don Beyer (D) won reelection with 73% of the vote.
The election was called in Beyer’s favor within a few hours of polls closing. Republican candidate Karina Lipsman conceded and thanked Beyer for his public service before 10 p.m.
“Despite the lies from the media mob, we never predicted this red wave, in fact we warned all year long this election would be incredibly close,” said Hannity, who had previously suggested a “red tsumani” during the midterms. “I’m getting a little sick and tired of being lied about in the news media, so we will refresh their memory.”
Alexandria’s Democrat Congressman Don Beyer was easily reelected to his fifth term in office on Tuesday.
Beyer won the race for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District with 73% of the vote (188,285 votes) against Republican Karina Lipsman with 25% (64,503 votes) and less than 2% (3,764 votes) for Independent candidate Teddy Fikre, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
In Alexandria, that equated to:
- Beyer won with 77% of the vote (40,226 votes)
- Republican Karina Lipsman received 21% (10,930 votes)
- Independent Teddy Fikre got 2% (794 votes)
“I’m just so grateful,” Beyer told Democrats at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray after his victory was assured. “This is the best job I’ve ever had the most meaningful chance I’ve ever had to have an impact on other people’s lives.”
Lipsman tweeted thanks to Beyer for his service, and said that she will continue to fight for a “failing” education system.
I will continue to fight to give voice to those issues, because they’re so deeply important. I would also like to thank Don Beyer for his service to this district — public service is an endeavor that deserves so much respect. #VA08
— Karina Lipsman (@KarinaCongress) November 9, 2022
There were 52,072 votes cast in Alexandria, and Beyer won every precinct in the city. Lipsman’s best precinct was City Hall, where Beyer won with 60% of ballots cast (500 votes) and she got 39% (324 votes).
Beyer, a former lieutenant governor who also served as the Ambassador to Switzerland during the Obama administration, was first elected to Congress in 2014. Since then, Beyer has won reelection by a significant margin, winning 76% of the vote in 2018 and 75.8% in 2020.
Grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again putting their confidence in me to represent them in the House of Representatives. Their trust in me is humbling, and I will continue to do all I can to earn it. My statement: pic.twitter.com/mJCE2SNk03
— Don Beyer (@DonBeyerVA) November 9, 2022
Congratulations to my Congressman @DonBeyer for being reelected to represent the 8th District for another 2 years! Congressman Beyer has been a stalwart, progressive champion for our region and I look forward to his continued leadership in the House. pic.twitter.com/7AdJfDx86J
— Adam Ebbin 🇺🇦 (@AdamEbbin) November 9, 2022
I met @DonBeyerVA on Election Day 33 years ago.
He was the real deal then as he ran to be our Lieutenant Governor and today he ably gives voice to the 8th District in Congress.
We are lucky to have him back representing us for another term in a very different House.
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) November 9, 2022
Next Monday marks the last day Alexandrians can register to vote or update their registration for the Nov. 8 general election.
Applications to vote can be submitted online before midnight on Monday, Oct. 17. They can also be submitted in-person at the Office of Voter Registration and Elections (132 N. Royal Street, Suite 100) by 5 p.m. the same day or mailed in provided they are postmarked before Oct. 17.
The only election on the ballot for Alexandria is for the United States House of Representatives 8th District. Incumbent Congressman Don Beyer (D) is facing off against Karina Lipsman (R) and Teddy Fikre (I).
“If you have moved since the last time you voted, please make sure you are registered at your current address,” a release from the City of Alexandria said. “You may check your registration at vote.elections.virginia.gov, by email at [email protected], or by calling 703 746 4050. Voters who do not update their registration records before the deadline may be required to cast provisional ballots through the Same Day Registration process.”
Alexandria is a fairly reliably blue city and the 8th District race has rarely been a particularly competitive one. Beyer, a former lieutenant governor who also served as the Ambassador to Switzerland during the Obama administration, was first elected in 2014. Since then, Beyer has won reelection by a significant margin each time, winning 76% of the vote in 2018 and 75.8% in 2020.
Today (Tuesday) is the last chance Alexandrians have to vote in the Democratic primary.
Election Day turnout was at about 1.5%, with 1,534 Alexandria residents voting in person, as of 10 a.m. today, according to the Alexandria Office of Voter Registration and Elections. But about 5,000 absentee ballots have been returned, bringing total turnout to about 6.7% of registered voters.
Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She was previously part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and tech company Palantir.
Virasingh’s website lists some campaign priorities as housing for all, equity in education, securing a living wage and Medicare for all.
Beyer has held onto the 8th District, which also includes Arlington, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, since he won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.
The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November. The Republican Party nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman.
How to vote
Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, was May 31.
Polling locations are open until 7 p.m. Voters must cast their ballots at their assigned location, which can be found on the Virginia elections website. If mailing a ballot, it must be postmarked no later than today or delivered in person today.
Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook
Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.
Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.
She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.
Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.
She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”
Lipsman’s website she mentions extremists and divisive politics. “Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” it reads. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”
After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.
“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”
Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee
(Updated 3:15 p.m.) Early voting in the upcoming Democratic Primary is scheduled to start later this Friday, May 6.
The only election on the ballot is the Democratic nomination for the 8th District House of Representatives seat. Victoria Virasingh is hoping to unseat Don Beyer, the 8th District Representative for eight years.
Virasingh and Beyer have little difference in way of policies and most of the debates have featured the pair in agreement on most issues. Virasingh has argued that her unique perspective as the daughter of immigrants who worked minimum wage jobs gives her a unique insight Beyer doesn’t share, the Washington Post reported.
Alexandria Republicans, meanwhile, are holding a convention on May 21.
Virginia voters do not register by party, so anyone registered in Alexandria can vote in-person at the Office of Voter Registration & Elections (132 North Royal Street) or by mail
The deadline to register to vote in the Primary is May 31. The Primary is scheduled for June 21.
With the pandemic and snow prompting a completely virtual ceremony, the new Alexandria School Board was sworn into office on Tuesday (Jan. 4).
Board Chair Meagan Alderton was also unanimously reelected by her colleagues to serve as leader for another year, and Member Jacinta Greene was named vice chair.
“I am looking forward to another fun ride with you all this coming year,” Alderton told the new Board. “I really appreciate the support, and I definitely will always hope to never let you guys down.”
After a tough term overshadowed by COVID-19, only three members sought reelection in November — Alderton (District C), Greene and Michelle Rief (both in District A).
“Thank you for your everyone for your vote of confidence in me in this role, and I will to the best of my ability wholeheartedly serve you as vice chair,” Greene told her colleagues.
Also in District A, former City Councilman Willie F. Bailey took the oath. In District B, Ashley Simpson Baird, Tammy S. Ignacio and former School Board Member Kelly Carmichael Booz were sworn in, as were Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi and Christopher Harris representing District C.
The School Board’s next meeting is on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Last night our colleagues on the @ACPSk12 School Board took their oaths of office for the next 3 years.
The partnership between City Council and our School Board is critical as we work to ensure the success of every child.
Congrats to our new Board!
Let’s get to work. pic.twitter.com/0xSHiohajE
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) January 5, 2022
After nearly two years under COVID-19, the new Alexandria City Council was sworn into office Monday night (Jan. 3).
Monday’s snow storm and rising COVID numbers made the ceremony a virtual event. The specter of COVID loomed large over the ceremony, too, as Mayor Justin Wilson took the oath from Spain, where he has been stuck since contracting the virus during a holiday trip with his family.
“Alexandria needs to be a city that does big things,” Wilson said. “But it also needs to be a city that does less things, and does them better.”
It’s Wilson’s second term as mayor. Married with two children, he was elected in a special election to Council in 2007 after the resignation of then-Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald. He lost reelection to Council in 2009, was elected in 2012 and was elected as Vice Mayor in 2015. For his day job, he is a senior manager for Amtrak.
The new Council will have to mull a tax increase, as City services will be strained by COVID for years, and the police and fire departments have long decried low pay, morale and high turnover.
“If there is anyone that expects that we can simply layer this collection of new services on top of what we have always done, and expect it neither to cost us dramatically more nor impact our ability to execute, the dose of the reality that is coming is going to be especially harsh,” Wilson said. “We have seen in recent days and weeks our basic services strained, challenged, compromised. This Council must do the hard work of determining not just what we can fit into one annual budget, or even a multi-year capital plan. This is broader than that. If we are facing a once in a generation reconciliation of the role, scope and function of local government, this Council must bravely take on that mission to figure out what we don’t do in the future and who’s gonna do it, and what we should keep doing… and how we do it better than anyone else.”
Council unanimously elected Councilwoman Amy Jackson as vice mayor, since she received the most votes among council candidates in the November election.
“We’re going to continue with our COVID-19 recovery,” Jackson said. “I know Alexandria is resilient, I know our children, our Alexandria Health director, along with our city manager, all of my colleagues and our city staff are working to help everyone get on the same page concerning our vaccinations and getting tests, and all of that will help us be a better Alexandria on the other side of this, a healthier Alexandria.”
“I thank you and I hope to continue to respectfully engage with you as we go through these next three years,” Chapman said. “Seeing so many of you sacrifice for the city, sacrifice time away from your families, be worried about your health status — all of that is not unseen by members on this council, and not unseen by me.”
McPike said that many challenges lie ahead.
“We can build an Alexandria where every young person has an effective and safe place to learn, where we can address our housing challenges while still preserving our green spaces; where we can help our local businesses thrive while ensuring that our workers and the unions that represent them have a seat at the table,” he said. “If we do our jobs well Alexandria It can be a light that shows the way to better future for our region and our Commonwealth. That work will not be easy. It will take patience and compromise.”