WINCHESTER — Of the eight candidates running for the Frederick County School Board in the Nov. 5 election, Gainesboro District candidate Susan Shick is the only one who declined an interview with the Frederick County Education Association (FCEA) in September.
The FCEA — an affiliate of the Virginia Education Association — has more than 750 members who “work collaboratively and organize for action to reach the common goals of the association,” according to online information.
“I’m disappointed she didn’t want to participate,” FCEA President Shaniqua Williams said. “Our union endorses issues not party.”
Following the interviews, the FCEA endorsed the following county School Board candidates: Brian Hester, at-large; Bradley Comstock, Opequon District; Michael Lake, Gainesboro District and James “Jimmy” Smith, Back Creek District.
Questionnaires were sent to candidates in August. Those who responded by the deadline were invited for an interview. In late September, the FCEA announced its endorsements.
Shick, who’s seeking political office for the first time, said she didn’t agree to an FCEA interview because she believes the organization only endorses liberal-leaning candidates.
All Frederick School Board candidates are running as independents in the upcoming election.
Shick added that she wants to show voters in the Gainesboro District that she is more aligned with them and does not need the FCEA’s endorsement.
“That type of endorsement can look like, ‘OK, this is someone who could maybe have their strings pulled,’” Shick told The Star.
Shick believes the FCEA endorsements show that the group supports liberal-leaning candidates. She noted the FCEA did not endorse at-large candidate David Stegmaier or Back Creek District candidate Brandon Monk, who she considers more conservative than their opponents.
“Neither one of them were chosen. There’s a reason for that. I feel the reason is they are the more conservative candidate. I felt as if there was no point in me going to that interview,” Shick said. “I am open and willing to work with everyone, but the outcome of those interviews proves my point as to why had I went to that interview I would have not been chosen.”
Williams disagreed with Shick’s assessment, noting the Virginia Education Association’s Fund for Children and Public Education has endorsed Republican incumbent Sen. Jill Vogel for the 27th District state Senate race (the 27th District includes Frederick County). Vogel’s opponent, Democrat Ronnie Ross, is a schoolteacher in Warrenton.
Williams said someone who wants to be on the School Board should also be someone who wants to hear from teachers.
Shick’s opponent in the race, incumbent School Board member Michael Lake, said “there is no cahoots to be had” between the FCEA and the Frederick County School Board.
“If [Shick] is successful in November, we don’t rebuild that bridge,” Lake said. “What an insult.”
Williams said the School Board and the FCEA don’t always agree, but they have a strong working relationship.
The FCEA also has endorsed the following candidates for Frederick County Board of Supervisors: John Lamanna, chairman; Bob Wells, Opequon District; Heidi David-Young, Gainesboro District and Steve Jennings, Back Creek District.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles “Chuck” DeHaven, Gainesboro District Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy and Back Creek District candidate Shawn Graber declined an interview with the FCEA. All three are on the Nov. 5 ballot.