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Votes

Wilson Officially Certified as Victor

Two-term incumbent edges challenger Griffith by less than 1 percent in Braddock District School Board race.

Liz Griffith has said that she will not seek a recount for the race for the Braddock District seat on the Fairfax County School Board, after an official canvass of votes affirmed that Griffith’s opponent, incumbent Tessie Wilson, was the victor in the Nov. 6 election.

Wilson, a two-term veteran of the School Board endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Party, edged political newcomer and Democrat-backed Griffith 10,937 votes to 10,812. The final vote difference, at greater than one half of 1 percent, did not meet state guidelines for an automatic state-funded recount, according to county Board of Election officials.

While Griffith had the right to pay for a recount, as the final difference was still less than 1 percent, the challenger told The Connection that she would not seek a recount and is conceding the race. The final tally was certified following the canvassing of precinct voting data on Nov. 9.

"The whole experience was very different than I expected," said Griffith, in a phone interview on Monday, Nov. 12. She added that she has worked full-time on campaigns in the past. "It was a great experience, but it’s just a little different when it’s your name that’s on that line."

THE FINAL TALLY was a lot closer than expected, said Wilson.

"It was a unique year in politics and there were a lot of factors that played into making it so close," she said, noting the strong showing of Democratic voters in the region. "It certainly was a good year for a lot of the Democrats and I think you saw that out at the polls."

For Griffith, the close nature of the race had a lot to do with her message of countywide, full-day kindergarten and advocacy for later start times for high schools. The importance of those priorities was something that Griffith said she had noticed while canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door.

"Clearly, I saw, based on how close we got, my message resonated with voters," said Griffith. "To come that close to an eight-year incumbent really says a lot about the importance of the message to voters."

But full-day kindergarten and later start times for high school students have been two priorities that have been long sought by the county but limited to some degree by budget constraints, according to Wilson.

"This is nothing new, the county has been looking at incorporating full-day kindergarten in all of our schools for a couple years … and I don’t think there’s a person on the School Board who doesn’t believe later start times should be looked into," she said. "The question that we’re dealing with now is how we can work what we need with what we want into our budget."

FINDING WAYS to provide for competitive teachers’ salaries while still improving area schools will be the focus for Wilson as she enters into her third term as Braddock District’s School Board representative, she said.

"The budget is very much going to drive what we can do in the coming years and we need to see what we’ll be able to do," Wilson said. "We’re going to have to do what we can to keep our teachers’ salaries at the level that they’re used to while still improving our programs."

Griffith plans to spend the next few years reflecting on her experience in the race and continuing to assist the Democratic Party of the Braddock District in whatever way she can, she said.

A future run at Braddock’s School Board or another race is not out of the question, but not yet seriously considered, she added.

"There are a lot of good people out there with a lot of good ideas, and I was inspired just being out there talking to the voters," Griffith said. "Certainly, people have mentioned to me that we should [run in another election] having done so well our first time out, but we’ll see."

"We’ll take some time and see how things look and make a decision when new elections come up," she said.