(March 11, 2019) Catherine Read interviews four women of color who are running for office in Fairfax County in the June 11th Democratic primary elections. Karen Keys-Gamarra is running for Member-At-Large on the School Board; Ricardy Anderson is running for Mason District School Board; Kelly Hebron is running for the Board of Supervisors in the Lee District; and Alicia Plerhoples is running county-wide for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
Karen Keys-Gamarra, FCPS School Board At-Large
In the first segment Catherine speaks with Karen Keys-Gamarra, who is the current At-Large School Board Member and is running for reelection. Keys-Gamarra was first elected in a 2017 special election. Her current roles on the board consist of serving on the committees that oversee Governance and Audit, as well as being the Board liaison to the Title 1 Parent Advisory Committee and the Community Criminal Justice Board. She has a strong commitment to transparency and good governance practices. With the school system being allocated approximately 50% of the county budget of 1.5 billion dollars, she aims to ensure that the school system is a good steward of those funds.
Additionally, Keys-Gamarra is strongly committed to the One Fairfax policy, recently adopted by both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors. This policy promotes equity, and asks all policy makers to put on their equity lens when crafting programs and agendas. This effort is to ensure that the county is offering a quality, world-class education to all students who live in all corners of the county. It is also designed to so that children have access to the necessary services in order to thrive. During her time on the Board, she has also worked collaboratively to rewrite the Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers, in order to provide guidance and ensure equity on how disciplinary challenges are managed.
The School Board is currently tackling a number of other very important issues, including setting up policies for boundary changes, addressing overcrowding in certain communities, improving access to advanced academic services to underserved communities and reviewing discipline policies. The ultimate goal is to deliver a world-class educational experience for all 190,000 students across the school system. As the 10th largest school system in the county, with a proud history of achievement, Keys-Gamarra believes it is imperative for the school board to address these issues head on with innovative and forward-thinking solutions. To learn more about her platform you can visit her website.
Dr. Ricardy Anderson, FCPS School Board in Mason District
Dr. Ricardy Anderson, a resident of Mason District since 2008, is running to represent her home district on the FCPS School Board. She is seeking the Democratic nomination in the Mason District. Anderson, a former teacher and principal, holds a Doctoral Degree, and is the only professional educator running for the seat. She brings with her a wealth of experience, and a desire to tackle the challenging issues that the School Board faces.
With deep roots in the community, along with raising her two young boys in Mason District, Ricardy is acutely aware of the challenges and needs of her district. She has never thought about running for public office in the past, but was moved to serve her community in an educational capacity. She has a lot of ideas and comes with a variety of perspectives to share, as she says there are “many ways to peel the onion”. She is excited to bring some of those ideas to the table in Fairfax County.
Her goal is to foster confidence in the school system to all families throughout Fairfax County, no matter where they live. She understands that education is the great equalizer, and wants to ensure that all students have equal access to education. She herself is an immigrant and first generation American, and has seen first hand that her education gave her the opportunity to advance and make a better life for herself and her family. Anderson is also a fierce advocate for competitive teacher pay, and believes that the teachers are the foundation of a strong school system.
Her platform includes strengthening equity across the county by strategically implementing the One Fairfax policy, focusing on teacher pay, encouraging the Board to look at restorative justice practices in regards to discipline procedures, strong support of mental health services for students, and opportunities for high school students to access dual enrollment classes through the Community College system. Voters can learn more about Dr. Ricardy Anderson and her platform, along with current endorsements, by visiting her website. Residents of Mason District who would like to have an opportunity to weigh in on this endorsement need to join the Mason District Democratic Committee by 5pm on March 22nd in order to be eligible to vote in the April 24th election.
Kelly Hebron, Lee District Board of Supervisors
In the third segment of the show Catherine speaks with Kelly Hebron, who is running for the Lee District Board of Supervisors on the Democratic ballot. Kelly is an attorney and business owner who has lived in Lee District for 20 years. She and her husband have settled in the community and are raising their two daughters there. Kelly is invested in Lee District, and believes that there needs to be a new voice at the table in order to represent all of the residents of her district.
Hebron notes that there are a wide variety of neighborhoods and constituents in the Lee District. It is home to some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the county, but it there are also pockets of extreme poverty. The district covers 30 square miles of land south of the beltway (I-495), between Franconia and Ft. Belvoir. With many languages that are spoken, and many cultures that are represented, she believes that the diversity is Lee District’s strength. She aims to bring people together and work toward making her home district the best place to work, live and play.
Her platform covers strengthening County support for affordable housing, improving workforce development by working closely with the community college system, improving transportation options and taking care of the environment. There are many challenges facing the County today, but by working together to come up with creative solutions she is confident that she can help build a better community for all of her residents.
Hebron brings a wealth of experience to the table. She has served on the Criminal Justice Board, the Small Business Commission, the Economic Advisory Council and has been a board member on the Commission for Business Partnerships, which promotes minority and women owned business. With an economics degree from the University of Maryland, and both a Masters of Public Policy and a JD from Catholic University, Hebron feels that she is well suited to step into the Supervisor role. To learn more about Kelly, visit her website , meet her at the upcoming candidate forum on May 4th at 10am, and make a plan to vote in the primaries on June 11th.
Alicia Plerhoples for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors
Alicia Plerhoples, an attorney and professor at Georgetown University Law School, is running for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Alicia launched her career in NYC as a commercial real estate attorney.
She then turned her ambitions to her passion of community economic development, working mostly in the nonprofit arena. As a current professor at Georgetown, she heads the legal clinic, through which she and her students represent nonprofits, small business, incubators, co-working spaces and community organizations.
Plerhoples lives in the Dranesville District, where she and her husband are raising their two daughters. She serves at the PTA president of her children’s elementary school, as well as holding a spot on the Governing Board of the McLean Community Center and serving on the board of her neighborhood citizens association. As a co-founder of Virginia Democracy Forward, a progressive grassroots organization based in Northern Virginia, Alicia has worked to raise money and elect Democratic candidates throughout the commonwealth.
Alicia decided to enter the raise for Chairman of the Board because she did not see her voice represented in the current slate of candidates. While Fairfax County is has great wealth and success, there is an underlying issue of growing poverty, and she believes that bold action needs to be taken to ensure that we stem the tide of inequality.
She knows personally about how quickly a family can fall from making ends meet, to being in a dire situation of finding themselves without a permanent place to call home. When she was in the fourth grade her father lost his job, and they were subsequently evicted from their home. This set off a period of economic instability, and her family was not able to find affordable housing. At the tender age of nine, she spent her entire fourth grade year living in a hotel room and experiencing food insecurity. This made a huge impact on her, and is the driving force behind her desire to work toward economic opportunity for all.
Plerhoples is running on a platform that supports these ideas. She wants to improve access to workforce development and affordable housing, address climate change through innovation with local business, and work toward universal preschool for all children in Fairfax County.
To learn more about Alicia you can visit her website. She encourages all Fairfax County residents to make a plan to vote in the June 11th primaries. The chairman race is a county-wide election, so all residents will have an opportunity to make their voices heard.