It’s definitely not shaping up to be a six-figure kind of election from a campaign-cash standpoint, and who actually is doing best in fund-raising for the Arlington School Board seat on the Nov. 8 ballot kind of depends on how you look at it.
For the period through June 30, independent James “Vell” Rives IV outraised Democratic endorsee Bethany Sutton by $14,286 to $13,132, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections.
But from those figures you have to subtract the $7,000 loan that Rives gave his campaign, and also chop off a couple of thousand dropped in by Sutton family members to hers, when parsing the data.
At the end of the first half of the year, Sutton had $6,499 cash on hand and Rives had $4,051, according to state figures.
The candidates are squaring off in an effort to succeed Barbara Kanninen, the latest Arlington School Board member to opt against a re-election bid. She joins past incumbents Monique O’Grady (2021) and Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren (2020) in departing – Van Doren after eight years, Talento after six and O’Grady after four.
Sutton initially was challenged for the Democratic endorsement by a county teacher, who then dropped out of the Democratic caucus to run as an independent, only to drop out of the general election, as well. With only one candidate seeking the Democratic nod, the party officials endorsed Sutton’s bid with no opposition.
In Virginia, School Board seats officially are nonpartisan, although political parties can run candidates by endorsing them rather than formally nominating them.
Although school governance has been a hot issue in Virginia and arguably can be seen as the cause of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s election as governor in 2021, rabid contentiousness has not fully percolated down to Arlington, for whatever reason.
The last non-Democrat to serve on Arlington’s School Board was David Foster, elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 as an independent with ties to Republicans. The Arlington County Republican Committee again this year tried to find a candidate for the race, but was unable to do so.
Sutton and Rives are likely to face off at the Arlington County Civic Federation’s annual candidate forum in September, then at a number of other events sponsored by various organizations.