Democrat Jim Rock announced last week that he will not run for the vacant School Board seat in November’s election, further turning the race for his party's endorsement into a wide-open contest.
Rock said he wanted to run for School Board, but has not fully recovered from surgery on his tonsils at the end of January.
Last year Rock lost the Democrat's endorsement by less than 400 votes. Ed Fendley, the man who defeated Rock, easily won the three-way general election in the fall.
In an interview at the beginning of the month, Rock said he was leaning toward running again. But his recovery from surgery has taken longer than expected, he said.
"I fully intended to run this year, but I can't get into something and not give 100 percent," Rock said. "It's not something I can do right now."
Rock has a persistent sore throat and is unable to speak for long stretches, thus curtailing his ability to campaign, he said.
"If you're going to run for office you have to be on the phone for hours and go door to door meeting people," he said. "Right now it's painful sustaining a conversation."
Rock is the vice president of a government relations firm, and has served as president of the Yorktown PTA and vice president of the County Council of PTAs.
There is a good chance he will run again next year, he said, and he is likely to back a candidate in November's election.
ROCK'S DECISION not to seek elected office leaves Sally Baird as the only person to officially declare their candidacy for the Democratic endorsement.
Arlington's political parties are prohibited from nominating candidates for School Board elections, but both hold endorsement caucuses.
Baird, who currently serves as co-chair of the board’s Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee and as vice president of the Drew Model Elementary School Association, already has the backing of School Board member Ed Fendley and County Board member Jay Fisette.
Rock's announcement that he will bow out of the race has brought other possible candidates forward. Mark Dorfman, a past co-president of the Thomas Jefferson PTA and the Long Branch PTA, said he is exploring a possible run and expects to make a decision within the next two weeks.
"I'm talking to community leaders and seeing what kind of support I can line up... but time is increasingly critical," said Dorfman, who currently chairs the IB Parent Advisory Committee at Washington-Lee High School, where his daughter is a senior.
Other residents who are thinking of entering the race include Sharon Davis, who lost the 1999 School Board election, and Reed Goldstein.
Davis said she will make a decision on whether or not to run by next week. She is trying to decide if she can balance the massive time commitment that the School Board requires with her responsibilities working in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"It would be a tremendous honor to serve on the School Board," Davis said. "I've always continued to stay active in the schools. But I have found work is becoming more intense."
Davis, who is married to State Delegate Al Eisenberg, has served as co-chair of the Advisory Council on Instruction and chaired the Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.
Calls to Goldstein were not returned before the Arlington Connection went to press.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee will pick a deadline for residents to file their candidacy during its Feb. 22 executive leadership meeting.
That deadline will most likely be in early April, with a caucus held in mid-May, said Peter Rousselot, chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Rousselot expects at least one other individual to enter the race and challenge Baird for the party's nomination.
"A couple of other people have come forward and expressed interest," he said.