At-Large School Board Candidate Says FCDC Violated Election Rules
Jeannie Armstrong continues her campaign as she awaits results of her appeal to state party officials
In another twist in the Fairfax County Democratic Committee's attempts to endorse at-large school board candidates, former candidate Jeannie Armstrong is accusing the committee leadership of failing to follow its own rules, leading to a "process that was ripe for fraud."
Documents submitted to the three Democratic Congressional District Chairs in Fairfax County and the Virginia Democratic Party by Armstrong's campaign contend the committee did not follow minimal procedures to protect the process from fraud, did not have the authority to set new bylaws for a special endorsement election, and did not follow the proper procedures to establish a special election process.
Under the Virginia Democratic Party Plan, the rules of the party in Virginia, the chairs or their appointees must hear the appeal.
"We're surprised that the other campaign even accepted the endorsement, given how the vote was conducted," said Vince Leibowitz, a consultant on Armstrong's campaign.
The July 26 endorsement election, in which Ryan McElveen won by two votes, followed the withdrawal of Charisse Espy Glassman earlier in the month, creating a rare situation in which the committee had to elect a replacement candidate.
FCDC bylaws did not at that time specify a process for a special election due to withdrawal of a candidate. A process was proposed by the the steering committee and voted on by the assembled committee July 26, prior to the endorsement vote.
Before the vote, Armstrong told the committee she would refrain from running if she lost the endorsement. On Monday, she said she would continue her campaign at least until the party makes a determination about her accusations.
Though Armstrong's campaign directly accuses top leadership of the FCDC of a failure to follow rules, Chairman Rex Simmons said the allegations are unfounded and that the process was legitimate.
"Ms. Armstrong and her campaign knew about the the rules in advance of the vote," Simmons said. "Only when the outcome of the vote was known did they object."
The first round of FCDC endorsements in May upset some members because the party voted to endorse the top vote getters, instead of candidates with a majority, after two ballot votes failed to yield a clear winner.
Maria Allen, who decided to run unendorsed after losing in that vote, said Friday she is no longer running for the school board seat.
Allen shared Armstrong's criticisms of the process, pointing out what she says is a flawed system, the rule that a candidate must agree to drop out of the race if not endorsed and partisan politics.
Karen Goff reported for this story.