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School Board candidates nab more endorsements as process to select the next Democratic endorsee kicks off

Arlington School Board candidates Angelo Cocchiaro and Miranda Turner against the backdrop of the Arlington Public Schools administrative building (by ARLnow)

Voting to determine which School Board candidate gets the endorsement of the local Democratic party kicked off yesterday and continues this week.

Candidates Angelo Cocchiaro and Miranda Turner are vying to be the Democratic-supported candidate who will run in the general election in November to replace outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. The winner will face any independent candidates, which so far includes James “Vell” Rives, who is running for the second time.

Both Democratic hopefuls continue racking up high-profile endorsements. In addition to Goldstein’s support, Cocchiaro was endorsed by the political action committee of the teachers union, Arlington Education Association (AEA). Turner earned the support of some Arlington County Board members, former chairs of Arlington County Democratic Committee and community leaders.

In a statement released Friday, the political action committee representing Arlington Public Schools educators and staff said it believes Cocchiaro’s “youthful vision and strong commitment to students, educators and the labor movement will make him a fresh voice for APS.”

“He impressed the interview committee with his student activism in support of educators in West Virginia,” the statement continued. “His support of labor rights and collective bargaining will serve our students, community, and staff well by giving those on the front-lines of providing educational service to our community a real voice in planning to make it the best it can be.”

The teachers union recently won an election by county school employees to be the exclusive representative for educators once collective bargaining begins with Arlington Public Schools.

Cocchiaro said he is willing to go the extra mile “to be a prizefighter for our teachers and school staff.”

“There are those who would create an artificial, invisible wall between AEA and the School Board,” he said in a statement. “Let me be clear: not me. As a Democrat’s Democrat, I’ll always take the side of labor over management — I’ll have their back — and that’s never going to change.”

Cocchiaro says he will fight for “raises that beat inflation,” 12 weeks of paid family leave and a “Live Where You Work” housing support program. Arlington County offers financial assistance to eligible staff looking to rent or buy in Arlington and APS has offered similar grants in the past.

Turner also advocates for better pay and benefits and paid parental leave for APS staff. She says the school system should let staff who live in Arlington enroll their children at the school where they work, and says the county and school system should explore providing grants to teachers looking to buy a home in Arlington.

As a School Board member, she says she will also scrutinize new APS initiatives for whether they have teacher input, per her website.

Turner recently nabbed an endorsement from Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti and the vote of Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey.


Turner also received endorsements from a handful of former chairs of the local Democratic Party, the former NAACP Arlington branch president Alfred Taylor Jr. and Janeth Valenzuela, one of the founders of the community advocacy group Arlington Schools Hispanic Parents Association.

Arlington Dems cannot officially nominate a candidate for the School Board because it is a non-partisan position, without a primary and without political parties noted on the ballot.

Instead, Democrats host caucus to endorse a candidate, with all candidates agreeing not to run in November if they are not the endorsee.

The process has been criticized by both the watchdog group Arlington Parents for Education and the Arlington branch of the NAACP. Last year, however, local Democrats voted overwhelmingly to keep it.

This year’s caucus process kicked off on Sunday at Drew Elementary School and will continue at two additional APS locations.

The remaining opportunities to vote are Wednesday at Campbell Elementary School (737 S. Carlin Springs Road) from 7-9 p.m. and Saturday at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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