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Votes

Meet the New School Board

Voters in three districts selected nine candidates for the next School Board.

On Tuesday, voters sent a new School Board to the schools’ central administration building on Beauregard Street. Only one incumbent member — Vice Chairman Charles Wilson — stood for reelection, and he received fewer votes than two newcomers who were on the ballot in the western district. The new board members will be sworn in on July 1

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District A Winners

SHERYL GORSUCH is a native of Burbank, Calf., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1986. In Tuesday’s election, she received 3,053 votes — making her the most popular candidate in the eastern district.

She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., and she moved to Alexandria in 1986. Gorsuch is a former restaurant manager who currently owns an independent business. Her involvement in the schools includes membership in the Budget Advisory Committee and the Talented and Gifted Advisory Committee. She has held several leadership positions in parent-teacher associations, and she is currently president of the Alexandria PTA Council.

“I’m going to be meeting with all the principals in Alexandria to find out what issues are important to them,” Gorsuch said after the election. “I’ll also be going to all the PTA meetings I can because the School Board makes decisions for the whole city.”

EILEEN CASSIDY RIVERA is a native of Milwaukee, Wisc., and has lived in Alexandria since 1996. In Tuesday’s election, she received 2,487 votes.

She has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a master of business administration from American University. She is a former special assistant to the International Trade Administration and a former assistant administrator for the Small Business Administration. She left the Clinton administration in 1999 to accept a position as director of corporate relations for the International Youth Foundation, but returned to take serve as director of public affairs for the Peace Corps. After Clinton left office, she joined Electronic Data Systems and was appointed by Gov. Mark Warner to serve on the Virginia Business Education Partnership. She is currently vice president of communications at Pearson Government Solutions. She is a member of the Lyles-Crouch PTA, the Del Ray Citizens Association and the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

“I want to close the achievement gaps in Alexandria,” Rivera said after the election, adding that test scores for African-American and Hispanic students are too low. “They need our help.”

SCOTT NEWSHAM is a native of Hollin Hills in Fairfax County, and has lived in Alexandria since 1994. In Tuesday’s election, he received 2,468 votes.

He is a 23-year veteran of the Coast Guard, serving in various positions across the country. He has a bachelor’ degree in biology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington. He has worked as a school bus driver in Alexandria, and he has been active in several local parent-teacher associations. He is currently the treasurer of the George Washington Middle School PTA.

“The first order of business is to meet with the other School Board members and determine where we want to go,” Newsham said after the election. “I want to build confidence and trust in the school system.”

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District B Winners

CLAIRE EBERWEIN is a native of Richmond, Mich., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1984. In Tuesday’s election, she received 3,557 votes — making her the most popular candidate in the central district and the recipient of the most votes of any School Board candidate.

She has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan as well as a juris doctorate from the Georgetown University. Eberwein was on the city’s first elected School Board in 1994, serving as chairwoman and vice chairwoman. In 2000, she was elected to City Council — but her 2003 reelection campaign was unsuccessful. She is a current board member of the United Way, Agenda Alexandria, Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, Four Mile Run Stream Restoration Project and Alexandrians for an All-City Sports Facility.

"I want to set better communication with the community by listening and actively engaging the citizens. We need to explain proposed programs and ask for comments before putting them into place and allocating money for them," Eberwein said after the election. "I think we will have excellent people who are coming onto the board, and I think they will do a very good job for the kids."

YVONNE FOLKERTS is a native of Kankakee, Ill., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1999. In Tuesday’s election, she received 3,460 votes.

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. After an 18-year career in journalism, public relations and association management, she became a stay-at-home parent. She is a member and former president of the parent-teacher association at MacArthur Elementary School, volunteering her time to the school to tutor students. She is an active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she is chair the capital campaign renovation campaign. She is a Girl Scout leader and a member of Twig, the junior auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital.

“I’m thrilled with the win and thankful for the grassroots effort of my supporters,” Folkerts said after the election. “I want to keep the dialogue going from the campaign. I learned so much, and I think that a lot of people are looking for more communication with the School Board.”

ARTHUR PEABODY is a native of Lynn, Mass., and has lived in Alexandria since 1972. In Tuesday’s election, he received 3,210 votes.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a juris doctorate from Cornell Law School. He is currently working toward a master’s degree in health-services administration from George Washington University. He is a former career attorney for the United States Department of Justice, and is presently associate counsel at the BlueCross BlueShield Association. In Alexandria, he was a member of the School Board’s Budget Advisory Committee and he serves on the board of Alexandria Senior Citizens and the Alexandria Bar Association. He is a member of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Lawyers Committee, T.C. Williams Crew Boosters and the Titan Expo Committee.

“It was a thrilling and humbling experience to win election to the School Board,” Peabody said after the election. “My first priority will be to strengthen the core curriculum for students who are not yet eligible advanced classes.”

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District C Winners

BLANCHE MANESS is a native of Lawrenceville, Va., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1967. In Tuesday’s election, she received 1,618 votes — making her the most popular candidate in the western district.

She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Virginia State College and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from University of Northern Colorado. She began her career in education as a teacher in Chicago, moving to Alexandria in the late 1960s to accept a position teaching third grade at Charles Houston Elementary School. In 1987, she became an administrative intern at Cora Kelly Elementary School and Ramsay Elementary School. From 1989 to 1996, she was principal of Lyles-Crouch Elementary School. From 1996 to 2001, she was principal at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School. Then moved to the central administrative building on Beauregard Street to work with the division’s retirement incentive program.

“I’m proud to be able to say that the voters wanted me to be there just as much as I wanted to be there,” Maness said after the election. “My first goal will be to try to close the achievement gap because I think that that’s one of the most urgent issues in the city.”

RONNIE CAMPBELL is a native of Brookfield, Mass., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1985. In Tuesday’s election, she received 1,358 votes.

She graduated from Tantasqua Regional High School and attended Worcester State College. A longtime employee of the Untied States Postal Service, Campbell is currently a sales associate. She was a member of the School Board’s Budget Advisory Committee, the board of the Virginia state Parent-Teacher Association and the first assistant director to the Fairfax District PTA.

“I am looking forward to working with the new board, and I want to look forward instead of backward,” Campbell said after the election. “We need to find new ways to work with the city to help our teachers live in Alexandria. I would also like to see a more diverse population of teachers.”

CHARLES WILSON is a native of Chicago and has lived in Alexandria since 1983. In Tuesday’s election, he received 1,324 votes.

He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master of business administration from Webster University. A former Army colonel, Wilson served on the board of directors of the Cameron Station Credit Union for 10 years. He was first elected to the School Board in 2003. He is co-chairman of the Washington Area Boards of Education and vice chairman of the Alexandria School Board.

“Unfortunately, I think the superintendent might be the biggest issue of the next School Board,” Wilson said after the election. “I hope it won’t be because we might lose our big-picture focus.”