The Loudoun County Democratic Committee endorsed school board candidate Katrecia Nolen for the vacant seat representing the Broad Run District Thursday evening.
In a tweet announcing the endorsement, the Loudoun Democrats wrote, "The members of LCDC know that Katrece" — as Nolen goes by — "will represent #BroadRun with tenacity, heart, and commitment to the students and teachers of LCPS."
Loudoun County Algonkian District Supervisor Juli Briskman wrote in a quote tweet responding to the endorsement that the Broad Run seat's previous officeholder, Leslee King, won the seat in a "virtual smackdown," 61% to 32%.
King — who died at age 74 at the end of August — defeated her main opponent in the school board race, Andrew Hoyler, in 2019. She received more than 7,500 votes in the district — almost 61% — compared to Hoyler's roughly 4,500 votes (close to 37%), according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
"Voters made clear they want a strong [Democratic] rep," Briskman wrote. "To appoint anything less would disrespect [King's] legacy, disregard voters' wishes & patently ignore the democratic process that put her in office."
Loudoun County School Board elections are non-partisan.
Hoyler put himself forward as one of the seven applicants — including Nolen — to replace King on the board. During a public hearing Tuesday during which applicants were given an opportunity to state their case for candidacy before the board, Hoyler said his election experience already made him "a familiar face within the district."
A school board member's job is to "act as a liaison to as many constituents as possible," he said at the hearing.
The committee's endorsement of Nolen, however, has caused some grumbling among other applicants for the seat.
In response to Briskman's tweet acknowledging the LCDC endorsement, fellow candidate Samuel Yan wrote on Thursday, "Really? I contacted all of the supervisors, including you, to state my candidacy. I [was] told by you folks not to bother. Hmm?!"
Yan said in a follow-up conversation with the Times-Mirror that he expected members of the Board of Supervisors to observe more neutrality in the school board's appointment.
"She's not supposed to do that," he said of Briskman's tweet on the endorsement. Yan said he contacted all of the supervisors via email on Thursday, seeking support for his candidacy, but only two responded, whom he said told him, "Don't bother."
"The role of the officials is to serve the public," Yan said. "Just focus on the service."
Briskman responded to the Yan’s criticism Friday evening, saying, "I did scan the other resumes," and after hearing Nolen speak earlier this week, "I still believe Katrece is the most qualified."
She and Broad Run District Supervisor Sylvia Glass both said the LCDC's endorsement was open to any applicant for the school board seat who sought it, and that Nolen was the only one who did.
"I think [selecting] someone not endorsed by the Democratic Committee would be wrong, because Leslee King was endorsed by the Democrats, and she won her race by 61%, Briskman said. “To not endorse Katrece I think would show contempt for the Democratic process."
Glass said that she has known Nolen for a few years, and hopes to see her appointed to the school board.
"She’s just a really kind and caring person," Glass said of Nolen. "She’s professional in all things that she does." Glass added that she has a 19-year-old son around the same age as two high school age-children of Nolen's, which has fostered another layer of connection between them.
"I believe we have a pretty good relationship, and I believe that will continue," Glass said. "I think Katrece is qualified to understand — to empathize with the challenging times that our educators, parents and children are facing in our community."
Nolen could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
The Loudoun school board is expected to select a candidate to fill the Broad Run seat during their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12.