Fairfax Co. election will fill at-large school board seat

WASHINGTON — Voters in Fairfax County, Virginia, go to the polls next week to select an at-large member for the county’s school board.

The election is Tuesday, Aug. 29. The last day for in-person absentee voting is Saturday, Aug. 26.

Four candidates want to succeed Jeanette Hough, who resigned to join her husband on an overseas work assignment. The term lasts until Dec. 31, 2019.

Here is a brief look at the candidates:

Sandra D. Allen

  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration
  • Formerly worked for the Department of Defense before leaving to raise her sons
  • Her two children are in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Believes more accountability and transparency are needed in the school board decision-making process
  • Wants teacher training to be a priority to effectively address issues related to serving a diverse student body

Chris S. Grisafe

  • Coast Guard veteran endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Party
  • Has served on a number of school committees, such as the FCPS School Bonds Committee
  • Project manager and adviser in the national security field
  • MBA from Virginia Tech
  • Has said his mother’s death before he started school helps him appreciate the power of teachers and mentors
  • Wants to make sure children are prepared for the modern workforce and higher education

Karen A. Keys-Gamarra

  • An attorney and child advocate working mostly in juvenile and domestic-relations courts
  • Endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Party, Attorney General Mark Herring and Democratic Lieutenant Governor nominee Justin Fairfax
  • Wants to ensure that after-school programs continue to receive federal money
  • Wants to reduce bullying and decrease class sizes

Michael H. Owens

  • From her website: “My name is Michael (yes, just like the man’s name).”
  • Master’s degrees in English and education
  • Former high school English teacher now working in the tech sector
  • Project manager for a consulting firm serving websites such as cancer.org
  • Former vice president and current president of the PTA in her daughter’s school


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