Arlington Democrats Aim to Export Success Across Va.

A first-time contender will vie against a longtime activist for the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat being vacated by Abby Raphael.

Sharon Dorsey and Reid Goldstein used the March 4 Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting to kick off their campaigns in a process that will end with caucus voting in May.

Goldstein promised he would work to “maintain standards the community has come to expect” even as growing enrollment puts pressure on the school system’s half-billion-dollar annual budget.

“I will be a responsible steward of the public’s money,” Goldstein said at the monthly meeting, held in a packed room at Walter Reed Community Center.

Dorsey said her past experience both as a classroom teacher in New York and an executive with Marriott make her “uniquely qualified” for the five-member board.

“I want Arlington to have the very best schools – opportunity for everyone,” she said.

Goldstein and Dorsey were the only two contenders to file for the Democratic caucus by the March 2 deadline. The winner of the caucus will move on to the Nov. 3 general election with the party’s endorsement. (In Virginia, political parties cannot formally nominate candidates for School Board.)

Both contenders suggested that the School Board and County Board need to work collaboratively – “jointly instead of in parallel,” Goldstein put it – and that School Board members need to listen to the public.

But, Dorsey said, “we need a candidate who doesn’t shy away from difficult decisions.”

Dorsey is essentially unknown within county political circles. Goldstein sought the Democratic endorsement for School Board in 2008, when he finished out of the running in a large field that was topped by Emma Violand-Sanchez and Libby Garvey.

Raphael, who first was elected in 2007, announced in January she did not plan to seek a third term. With her departure, the School Board early next year will have a majority (three of five members) who have been in office less than 18 months.

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