Lateef wins special election for school board chair

Babur Lateef with supporters at a celebration event in Dale City on Tuesday night.

Babur Lateef, interim chair for Prince William County School Board, won the special election Tuesday to fill the final year remaining of the current term. But he doesn’t have time to rest after his first election win — a new race begins Wednesday.

In unofficial results, Lateef won 59,952 votes, or 47.9 percent of the vote. Alyson Satterwhite, the Gainesville representative on the school board, had 53,026 votes.

Stanley Bender, a retired Woodbridge resident, received just under 10 percent of the total votes cast. Results still have to be certified.

Lateef told a group of supporters in Dale City on Election Night that "tomorrow we start the re-election campaign, because we have an election in a year."

Lateef will finish the term that ends in late 2019 after former chair Ryan Sawyers resigned in March. The school board appointed Lateef as interim chair in April, and will hold a new election for the next four-year term in November 2019.

Lateef said he is humbled and grateful for the support of voters, volunteers and all the work of the election workers. He said he is proud of his campaign's positive message.

As chair, he wants to focus on improving student success, making sure kids are safe, increasing teacher and staff pay, reducing class sizes, increasing the amount of school counselors, improve career and technical education programs and continue to look at the audit of the school division's special education program.

"Those are all priorities we are going to continue and I want to be able to do it with people in the fashion that we all work together," Lateef said. "I think voters in the county validated what I've been able to do over the last six months [as interim chair] and voted that they share the values that I campaigned on."

Reducing class sizes includes reducing trailers in the school division, he said, adding he plans to also work with the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to increase the amount of local funding for the school division.

"I believe we can work together with them to achieve some of the goals, because these are not my goals, these are the goals of the community," Lateef said. "They wouldn't have voted for me if they were just mine."

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(5) comments

toomanypeople

Did the celebration event in Dale City include anyone other than those of Middle Eastern descent? Look at the photo.

EdP

Presumably his family. Why do you care?

Jack Print

No article regarding the Prince William County School Board election is complete without mention of the astounding 9.6% of the vote obtained by Stanley Bender. Bender, by all appearances, was a candidate-in-name-only. How does a candidate who raised $0, appeared in none of the debates, was not endorsed by either party, and who did not appear to campaign for the position in any way, receive so many votes? By subterfuge, it seems. Mysteriously, signs saying "Republicans for Bender" popped up around the County just as voters headed to the polls, despite the fact that the PWC Republican Committee had actually endorsed Alyson Satterwhite. Who are these Republicsns who supported Bender? No one, unless the hyper-partisan former head of the County's Democrat Committee suddenly changed his party affiliation. "Republicans for Bender" is a PAC registered just two weeks ago, in this Democrat's name, listing his home address and himself as the PAC's Treasurer. A sudden pre-election conversion or an attempt to steal votes from the real Republican-endorsed candidate?

I have no idea whether Mr. Bender was a willing partipant or an unwitting victim of a scheme to divert votes from Satterwhite. Clearly the Democrats had no confidence that Latiff, whom they endorsed, could win in an honest and fair election or there would be no need to divert 9.6% of the vote from the Republican-endorsed candidate. It is equally clear that Satterwhite would have won the race if not for the trickery.

This was a special election to replace the former Chair' who resigned amidst numerous accusations of corruption in office and a parent-led petition for his ouster. And with this election's subterfuge, it seems the Democrats are determined to continue the "game."
Unfortunately, as they do, the students are of little consideration. Those children are the only losers in this election.

EdP

I have to wonder why he was in the race. The tactic was despicable and in no way represents the democratic party who have already denounced the scheme.

Soily

More important to me is why this newspaper has ignored the shenanigans. The "Republicans for Bender" sign was the first thing I noticed when I pulled up to the polling station. Had I not checked the GOP website that morning I might have been fooled.

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