‘School boards are the front lines for democracy’: Prince William Co. chair Lateef launches lieutenant governor run

Babur Lateef announces candidacy for Lt. Governor of Virginia

Babur Lateef, the chairman of the Prince William County School Board, has launched his campaign to be lieutenant governor, telling WTOP in an exclusive interview that “the idea that Virginia somehow is in an educational crisis is a complete myth.”

“Glenn Youngkin has done real harm to the spirit of partnership within our communities,” Lateef said, while announcing his bid to be the Democratic candidate for the November 2025 election, to succeed Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears.

Lateef is currently the sole candidate who has filed for the position, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. 

In his six years as school board chair, Lateef points to his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition back to in-person learning and the focus on Northern Virginia school boards, which fueled Youngkin’s election in 2020 and continues today.

“I think we’ve done a good job in Prince William County over the last few years of focusing and prioritizing student and family needs, and as the largest employer in the county, also doing a lot for teachers, in giving them historic pay raises,” said Lateef.

Lateef said the Prince William County Board added to its core mission: “Mental health (care) for our students, as well as safety and security, which unfortunately in this day and age requires us to do more things such as artificial intelligence scanners, and adding more police officers and SROs to schools.”

Echoing the themes of his first campaign video, released Friday, Lateef said “School boards are the front lines for democracy.”

Lateef said school board meetings have always been a place for parents to voice their opinions and suggestions to the school board members they’ve elected.

In the past several years, school board meetings in Northern Virginia are often contentious, with attendees and political advocates often sharing video clips on social media.

“There’s been a lot of folks trying to divide us with culture wars on book banning, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Lateef said. “I would call much of this ‘manufactured crisis,’ because we are really doing a great job in our county, the 10th most diverse county in the country and the most diverse county in the Commonwealth.”

Lateef says he stands proudly behind Virginia’s public schools.

“There are folks that are not happy with the way things are being run, and I think there are just people manufacturing a lot of this crisis, and making it look like the schools are something they are not,” Lateef said. “They remain to be America’s greatest hope.”

Under Virginia’s election system, voters could choose a governor of one party to serve with a lieutenant governor of another party.

Youngkin is barred by Virginia law from seeking a second term. WTOP asked Lateef how well he could work with a Republican governor.

“I think I would tell the current governor, if I was in office, that there is no crisis there,” said Lateef. “And, if you believe there’s a crisis, let’s solve those crises, let’s invest in the things that we all agree need work.”

As he launches his campaign early, in hopes of spreading his message outside the Northern Virginia enclave, Lateef said teacher pay statewide needs to be increased, plus older schools need to be replaced, “especially in southwest Virginia, and the different parts of the state that don’t have the tax base we have in Northern Virginia.

“There’s a lot more work that we can do in the southwest, in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and Richmond — health care, and we’ve got to commit to working for families and helping create jobs.”

Lateef points to the state’s ability to lure Amazon to build its second headquarters, which in part was because of Virginia’s education opportunities and educated workforce.

“We want to attract those kinds of jobs here, high-paying jobs. We want to help working families, reproductive rights for women, and education — those are our real priorities,” Lateef said.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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