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School Board contenders hold off on official kickoffs

One announcement was planned but was derailed by COVID

Voters hoping to get a jump-start on evaluating the three Democrats vying for Arlington School Board will have to wait a month.

None of the three – Angelo Cocchiaro, Erin Freas-Smith and Miranda Turner – delivered kickoff remarks at the March 1 Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Cocchiaro had planned to, but contracted COVID, party chair Steve Baker told the assembled rank-and-file.

Kickoffs can be expected at the April meeting, sending the race into a five-week sprint before voting in the Democratic caucus takes place.

The three contenders are seeking to succeed Reid Goldstein, who is serving his second four-year term on the School Board and has announced he will not seek re-election.

(Goldstein was at the March 1 meeting; he told the GazetteLeader he plans on delivering valedictory remarks in front of the Democratic Committee in April.)

Cocchiaro and Freas-Smith are first-time candidates; Turner in 2021 sought the Democratic endorsement but lost to Mary Kadera.

Under state law, political parties cannot nominate School Board candidates, but they are allowed to “endorse” candidacies, which amounts to the same thing. All five current School Board members earned the Democratic endorsement before winning general-election victories; the last non-Democrat to serve on the School Board was Republican Dave Foster in 2000-07.

Voting for the endorsement will be held:

• May 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School.

• May 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Campbell Elementary School.

• May 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School.

The election will be conducted under a ranked-choice-voting format. Should no candidate receive a majority of votes, the lowest-scoring contender will be eliminated and his/her votes reallocated as directed by his/her voters. Whomever of the remaining two candidates gets a majority wins the endorsement and moves on to the general election.

The filing deadline for those seeking to get on the general-election School Board ballot is mid-June, but in Arlington, it’s rare for a non-Democrat to stand much of a chance in a general election.