James Lander kicks off bid for School Board

Arlington School Board member James Lander launched his bid for a third term on Dec. 7, 2016.

As he works to fend off two challenges from within the Democratic ranks, School Board member James Lander has picked up the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association.

Lander “has been a strong partner in assuring that [Arlington Public Schools] continues to serve all students in our community,” said Jeffrey Elker, chair of the association’s political-action committee, in an announcement distributed by the Lander campaign.

Lander is vying for his third term, but if he is to get to the Nov. 7 general election, he needs to defeat challengers Maura McMahon and Monique O’Grady in the Arlington County Democratic Committee caucus, to be held in mid-May.

(School Board seats in Virginia officially are nonpartisan, but political parties have the ability to “endorse” candidacies rather than formally nominating candidates.)

Lander first sought elected office in a crowded Democratic School Board caucus in 2008, finishing fourth in a field of six. A year later, he was the only Democrat to file, and went on to win the general election without opposition.

In 2013, Lander narrowly defeated Barbara Kanninen in the Democratic caucus, garnering 51 percent of the vote. He was unopposed in the general election. A year later, Kanninen was elected to a School Board seat.

The Arlington School Board consists of five at-large members elected to staggered terms. Lander’s seat is the only one on the ballot in 2017.

The Arlington Education Association political-action committee has been a fan of Lander, endorsing him in his battle against Kanninen in 2013.

Because collective bargaining and strikes among state-government and local-government workers are illegal in Virginia, groups such as the Arlington Education Association act more as professional organizations than as traditional unions.