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James ‘Vell’ Rives IV: Why you should vote for me on Nov. 8, 2022

Independent School Board candidate James ‘Vell’ Rives IV (courtesy photo)

Earlier this week, we invited the candidates running in Tuesday’s general election to write a post about why our readers should vote for them. Find information here on how and where to vote in Arlington on Nov. 8.

Below is the unedited response from independent School Board candidate James “Vell” Rives IV.

I have lived in Arlington 23 years. My wife Carmen and I have 2 children attending Wakefield High School and Gunston Middle School. They previously attended Abingdon, Claremont, and Hoffman-Boston Elementary Schools.

My undergraduate degree is in music, and I have directed church choirs for the past 20 years.

I’m a physician. After medical school at the University of Alabama, I completed an internship in internal medicine and then moved to Baltimore for a residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I then moved to Arlington and began practicing adolescent and adult psychiatry.

I’m a member of the APS School Health Advisory Board, serving as Co-Chair last year, and I’ve proudly served as a County Election Officer for 6 years.

But this year, I am running for School Board, because this is a crucial time for Arlington Public Schools: We have to get back on track.

My top priority is to keep our students and staff physically safe. I want to bring our resource officers (school-based police) back into schools where needed. Second, I want us to keep classrooms open for in-person instruction, safely, whatever it takes. Third, we have to finish making up lost learning. Our graduates need to be competitive for careers and college. I want us to eliminate our achievement gaps without lowering our standards or expectations.

We’ve lost too many good teachers in the past two years. Classroom teachers and other student-facing positions must be a budget priority. I also want every student to get the help they need to reach their full potential – tutoring, math and literacy coaching, homework proctoring, transportation, and family support. These too should be budget priorities.

It’s going to be hard. My experience as a parent, physician, and mental health professional will bring the perspective we need on the board to meet these challenges.

The Sun Gazette has endorsed me, saying “Rives has been more aggressive in delineating the school system’s leadership and operational flaws as he sees them, and his campaign has put the focus squarely on improving the academic outcomes on a student-by-student basis…. [M]uch more than Sutton, Rives has called out the school leadership for its pandemic-era mistakes, a key step in ensuring those mistakes are never, ever repeated.”

As an independent, I am not indebted to any political party or interest group. There has not been a non-Democrat on the School Board in 15 years. They could be so much more effective if they had someone — just one person! — from outside their circle. We could all have more confidence in the governing process: When there is agreement, I will bring credibility; when there is disagreement, I will make sure different viewpoints and concerns are brought to the table and into the decision-making.

I am the candidate who will work for teachers and every student and all of our citizens. I am your candidate, and I respectfully ask for your vote.

You can find additional information about me and my platform on my website, My website links to my Facebook page, Rives for School Board, where you can read my responses to questionnaires from the League of Women Voters, the Arlington Special Education PTA, and Arlington Patch.

Editor’s note: Candidates for local races are invited in advance to submit candidate essays, via contact information ARLnow has on file or publicly-listed contact information on the candidate’s website. Reminders are sent to those who do not submit an essay by the evening before the deadline.

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