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Three New Faces On School Board, Marshall Returns

© Leesburg Today - 11/03/2015

Loudoun's School Board, which oversees the county's 76,263-student school division, will have three brand new members come January following Tuesday's election.

First-term incumbents were ousted in the Leesburg and Broad Run districts, and two newcomers will step into the At Large and Catoctin district seats, after two of the longest serving board members did not seek re-election.

Leesburg

The biggest upset in the School Board races was in Leesburg, where Tom Marshall won back his previously held seat. Marshall, a real estate agent and former teacher, captured 215 more votes than one-term incumbent William D. ""Bill"" Fox. The third candidate in the race, Nels Pearsall, ended the day with 496 votes out of 7,190 cast.

Marshall first won the Leesburg District seat on the board in 2007. He was unseated by Fox four years later by a razor-thin margin of 86 votes. This go around, Marshall focused his campaign on his priority to spur progress in areas of the school system he felt have lost ground under the leadership of the current School Board.

""I'm very, very grateful,"" Marshall said, as he watched the final results come in late Tuesday. ""I worked very hard to let people know that I was the better candidate, and I think this time they believed that.""

Fox said of his loss, ""It came as a little bit of a surprise.""

Broad Run

An incumbent was also unseated in the Broad Run District. Community activist and software engineer Joy R. Maloney trounced Kevin J. Kuesters by 1,034 votes. She garnered a total of 3,862 votes to Kuesters' 2,828.

Maloney lost a write-in campaign to Kuesters in 2011, but launched a strong run against the incumbent for their rematch. In particular, Maloney took Kuesters to task for his view on full-day kindergarten, that academically at-risk students benefit most from the program and Loudoun should first provide it to them. Maloney is a vocal proponent of universal full-day kindergarten.

""It's clear the Broad Run District responded to our message of stronger schools,"" she wrote in an email Tuesday. ""I look forward to serving and working with our new Board of Supervisors to treat education as a top priority in our county.""

At Large

All of Loudoun will have a new representative on the School Board. Former early childhood educator Beth A. Huck edged out former Loudoun school administrator Stephan F. Knobloch for the At Large seat. She tallied 6,296 more votes than Knobloch, out of a total 64,538 cast.

Reached Tuesday evening, Huck, who lives in Brambleton, thanked her supporters and said she's eager to represent her stakeholders-the kids of Loudoun-on the board.

""We now have the opportunity to keep our school system moving forward to a bright future,"" she said.

As a first-time public official, Huck said she will work toward more innovation in the schools, as well as growing project-based learning and Superintendent Eric Williams' One to the World initiative, which encourages teachers to give students an audience outside the classroom.

She also wants to address overcrowding and to ""develop a clear path towards universal full-day kindergarten.""

Loudoun County is one of three school systems in Virginia that do not provide a full, six-hour school day to every kindergartner. Expanding the program into every Loudoun elementary school has been the most cited priority among candidates this election cycle.

Thomas E. Reed, who's held the At Large seat on the School Board for 12 years, announced in February that he would not run for re-election. He backed Knobloch as his successor, praising his 10 years of experience working for Loudoun County Public Schools.

Catoctin

Human resources professional Eric J. DeKenipp is the new School Board member in the Catoctin District. He garnered 679 more votes than his opponent, attorney Dusty Sparrow Reed.

DeKenipp steps in to represent the district, which includes parts of Leesburg and western Loudoun, following the two-term tenure of Jennifer Keller Bergel, who did not seek re-election.

DeKenipp first made local headlines in 2012 when he brought a legal case against the School Board after school boundary changes resulted in the reassignment of his daughter, and other Potomac Station elementary students, to Frederick Douglass Elementary School.

He has said that he wants to improve the school division's financial management and improve communication between parents and schools, and between the School Board and county supervisors.

Dulles

Jeffrey E. Morse safely held onto his seat in the Dulles District. He captured 5,800 votes, to his opponent Kenya A. Savage's 2,551.

Morse has said his focus in a second term would be to build a high-caliber workforce with better salaries and training, maintain small class sizes and develop high-quality curriculum for the Academies of Loudoun.

Algonkian

Debbie K. Rose secured a second term representing the Algonkian District. She edged out challenger Ryan A. Myers with 3,816 votes to his 3,272 votes.

Rose has said in her second term she wants to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities, upgrade aging facilities-including those at Potomac Falls High School-and reinstate the foreign language immersion program.

Unopposed Races

The three board members ran unopposed. Brenda Sheridan, in the Sterling District, won her second full term with 4,683 votes; 1,104 cast a blank ballot and there were 108 write-ins.

Board Chairman Eric Hornberger won his seat in Ashburn with 5,506 votes; 2,300 voters left the ballot blank, and 184 people cast write-ins.

Vice Chairwoman Jill Turgeon kept her seat representing the Blue Ridge District with 7,896 votes. More than 2,420 voters cast blank ballots, and 219 wrote in their votes.

Now, whether Hornberger and Turgeon's fellow board members will back them for a fifth year in their leadership roles remains to be seen. The board takes that vote at its annual reorganization meeting in January, after all nine board members are sworn in.

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