Metro Weekly

Election 2015: Fairfax School Board retains pro-LGBT majority

Most incumbents re-elected, and Palchik defeats Reed in contested school board elections

School Board Member-elect Dalia Palchik.
School Board Member-elect Dalia Palchik.

The Fairfax County School Board will retain a pro-LGBT majority following Tuesday’s elections, which saw 7 of 8 incumbents who had voted for trans-inclusive nondiscrimination protections re-elected.

The only incumbent to lose was Ted Velkoff, who was defeated by Jeanette Hough. Hough had been endorsed by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which strenuously objected to the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Fairfax’s nondiscrimination policy. Another TVC-backed candidate, Tom Wilson, picked up an open seat in the the Sully District. Together with incumbent Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) — who had no opposition Tuesday — TVC and similar conservative groups managed a net gain of one seat, while pro-LGBT incumbents and challengers retained control of the board by a 9-3 margin. 

Most notably, in the Providence District, incumbent Patty Reed, who had voted against including gender identity in the nondiscrimination policy, was defeated by challenger Dalia Palchik, who openly campaigned on a pro-LGBT platform. With her victory, Palchik also becomes the only Latina on the school board.

Tuesday’s election results could be significant, as they likely ensure that the nondiscrimination policy will not be repealed. Because more than 1 of every 7 children in Virginia public schools is educated in Fairfax County, the success of the pro-LGBT policies there could foreshadow the introduction of similar policies elsewhere in the commonwealth.

“At NVAE, we are extremely excited to see that these incumbents were re-elected,” says David Aponte of Northern Virginia Advocates for Equality. “Months ago, when we had these victories, people said that the polls would tell how people were feeling. And now, we have our answer. We can see that the people agreed with the policies that were put into effect, and we can expect more great things from each of the elected officials here so we can continue making progress here in Fairfax.”

Aponte said that overall, the attempts by conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition were mostly unsuccessful, as most of the pro-LGBT incumbents were re-elected, and Palchik defeated Reed by a large margin. He says that NVAE hopes to build on its success in Fairfax by working with other Northern Virginia communities to push for similar policies that will protect LGBT students and staff.

James Parrish, the executive director of Equality Virginia, also praised the election results, celebrating the victories of most incumbents and Palchik’s win.

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