[Updated to note current School Board member Tannia Talento has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti.]
As his quest for re-election hits high gear, independent Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is bringing together a coalition of former School Board members backing his candidacy.
The latest to endorse him: Sally Baird, who served seven-and-a-half years as a Democratic-backed member of the School Board from 2007-14.
“I don’t always agree with his positions, but I am glad he is there,” Baird said in a statement released Feb. 21 by the Vihstadt campaign. “His presence ensures a broader dialogue. At its core, John at the table affirms the most influential of Democratic values: inclusiveness.”
Baird is the latest in a group of former School Board members to have endorsed Vihstadt in the run-up to the November general election, from across the political spectrum. They include Frank Wilson, Todd McCracken, David Foster, Diane Smith, Charles Cervantes, Margaret Lampe, Michael Brunner and Steven Ivins.
(Among current School Board members, only Tannia Talento has yet to weigh in, endorsing Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti.)
Baird was something of an unknown quantity in local politics when, in the spring of 2006, she narrowly defeated establishment favorite Sharon Davis to win the Democratic endorsement for School Board. Baird won general elections in 2006 and 2010; she announced in early 2014 she would not seek re-election, and resigned later that year, citing increased personal and professional commitments.
In a statement, Vihstadt said he got to know Baird in her first year in office, when he was serving as president of the Yorktown High School PTA.
“I immediately found her to be responsive to the unique challenges confronting our high-school students,” Vihstadt said in a statement. “We both know that maintaining top-quality public schools is essential to Arlington’s future.”
Four years ago, Vihstadt brought together a coalition to become the first non-Democrat to serve on the County Board in 15 years. During the 2014 campaign, Vihstadt won the support of Democratic County Board member Libby Garvey and Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos; this year, Garvey and Stamos again have endorsed him, as has Democratic Treasurer Carla de la Pava.
Democrats aim to get the seat back; de Ferranti and Chanda Choun are vying for the party’s nomination, to be decided in a June primary.