Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee Endorses Meren for School Board

Melanie Meren won the endorsement of the Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee for school board with 80 percent of the vote on Wednesday.

The self-described Fairfax County parent leader, whose platform centers around “strong education,” is one of three candidates that were seeking the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board.

“We are excited to support Melanie’s campaign for School Board and thank outgoing School Board member Pat Hynes for her many years of service to Hunter Mill, to our students and teachers,” wrote Gordon Simonett and Denver Supinger, co-chairs of the HMDDC.

Andy Sigle, former president of Reston Association’s Board of Directors, and Laura Ramirez Drain, whose campaign focuses on Family Life Education and the budget, were also running for the board seat. The seat was vacated by longtime Hunter Mill District Representative Pat Hynes in January. Meren’s endorsement bumps other candidates out of the race.

Paul Berry, Meren’s campaign manager, wrote the following about the endorsement:

Meren and her husband Drew are 14 year residents of Hunter Mill District, where their two children attend public school. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Public Policy she worked in early childhood education at the US Department of Education’s Title 1 office managing a $15 million grant program for the nation’s most underfunded schools. After leaving the Dept. of Ed she founded her own education policy firm that advocates in particular for environmental education in public schools. Her professional and personal lives overlapped in 2016 when budget cuts threatened a multi-million dollar reduction in school funding. She responded by successfully advocating for and recovering $60 million through community activism and organizing parents in Hunter Mill. 

Meren won with an overwhelming 109 votes, while Sigle had 27 votes.

An official endorsement by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is expected on May 21. Meren’s name will be on the November ballot without party identification.

Photo via Melanie Meren website

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Town of Herndon Mayor Resigns from County Democratic Committee

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel severed ties with the Fairfax County Democratic Committee this week in response to “Trump-like” campaign signs that asserted candidates were “pretending to be Democrats.”

Merkel, a Democrat who has been served as the mayor since 2012, resigned from the committee a day after the election.

“I cannot in good faith be a part of a committee that condones such negative campaigning and untrue messaging about its own members, especially at the polls and with my constituents.  I consider myself a Democrat, particularly in the Trump era, but I will no longer be associated with the Fairfax County Democratic Committee,” Merkel wrote in a statement to Reston Now.

She said the signs were divisive in a written statement to the county committee and the Dranesville District Democratic Committee:

I must admit that I was most disappointed to arrive at the polls in Herndon yesterday to see the attached very large committee-approved signs asserting that there were candidates “pretending to be Democrats.”  This is appalling behavior, and I expected better of my party.   Many of the candidates running for town council were still dues-paying members of FCDC and the Dranesville committee on Election Day.  I wonder what our Congressman and Senator would think of seeing their signs seemingly associated with this kind of untrue, Trump-like “Fake News” scare tactic?  My guess is they would not appreciate it, particularly given that I was pleased to receive the personal endorsement of both Gerry Connolly and Tim Kaine, along with every other Virginia Democratic elected official that serves the Town of Herndon.  I think that speaks to years of relationships building and working together on behalf of the residents of Herndon.   

Additionally, I’m not sure if you are aware but  Herndon Voices, a PAC owned by one of your endorsed candidates, distributed materials at the polls endorsing known Republicans along with another non-FCDC endorsed candidate.  Does this set well with the committee and the required-for-endorsement pledge to only support the endorsed candidates?

In a statement to Reston Now, Dan Lagana, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said the signs were not authorized by the committee

“The signs were not authorized nor produced by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. I wish Mayor Merkel the very best and want her to know that the door is always open. However, I strongly urge both the Mayor and Herndon Town Councilmembers-elect to set aside personal differences and work collaboratively on behalf of the residents of the Town of Herndon,” Lagana wrote.

Photo via Lisa Merkel

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