On the ballot, off the ballot, back on the ballot-it’s enough to make heads spin on all sides.
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 1, the Fairfax County Office of Elections requalified Fairfax County Franconia District School Board Candidate Marcia C. St. John-Cunning based on a ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that afternoon. A Fairfax County judge allowed two additional petition sheets to count toward St. John-Cunning’s required signature threshold to be a qualified candidate.
According to the Fairfax County Democratic Committee November 1, 2023, press release, these additional petition sheets with signatures were deemed unnecessary (in March 2023) by the General Registrar’s office because St. John-Cunning was already a qualified candidate. “Subsequently, ELECT has confirmed that this reinstates Marcia as a qualified candidate,” states the release.
As for the 3000 residents of Franconia who had already exercised their constitutional right to vote, St. John-Cunning called her requalification based on the court’s ruling "justice" for them. “More than that, it upholds my platform, where every student, parent, and FCPS educator in every zip code counts. The will of the people is democracy, and today, democracy wins.”
Going forward, registered Franconia voters who want to cast their ballot for St. John-Cunning can fill in the bubble next to her name to vote for her just as they would for any candidate whose name is on the ballot. In the few days between rulings, St. John-Cunning supporters were told to write in her name rather than filling in the bubble.
“We are pleased by today’s order and elated to see her reinstated as a qualified candidate for school board,” said Bryan Graham, chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. ”Marcia St. John-Cunning is an exemplary candidate who has worked in our local schools and knows the families of Franconia,” he said.
Graham noted, however, that the damage had already been done. Voters had been and would continue to be confused about how to vote in the election. “We will continue to fight to ensure that the voter’s intent is respected and that no citizen is disenfranchised,” he said.
Fairfax County quickly responded by taking down its previous online notice about St. John-Cunning not being a qualified candidate and posting: “Based on a ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court on Nov. 1, 2023, Marcia C. St. John-Cunning is a qualified candidate for the Franconia District Representative on the Fairfax County School Board.
St. John-Cunning added that this should be a wake-up call. “The amount of money and resources the Republicans put into this school board race illustrates their strategy to reframe the Fairfax County School Board. Their tactics of disenfranchisement and confusion didn’t happen in Tennessee or Georgia. They happened in our backyard,” she said.
St. John-Cunning’s opponent is Kevin Pinkney, the Republican-endorsed candidate. Fairfax GOP Vice Chair of Operation Nick Andersen said, when requested to comment Thursday evening, Nov. 2, "Kevin Pinkney, a longtime county resident and concerned father of five, has witnessed first-hand the rapid decline of our local schools across all metrics — from test scores and literacy to attendance and school safety — during this board's tenure. In contrast to his opponent, Kevin has consistently demonstrated his seriousness and attention to detail in the conduct of his campaign. … Voters should not allow themselves to become distracted by the Democrat-endorsed candidate's legal troubles — instead, they should get out and vote for Kevin at any of the early voting locations to bring much-needed balance to our county school board. Over the past four years, all 12 board members have been Democrats. Their one-party rule needs to end so we can refocus on high academic standards, learning loss, student safety, and responsible budgeting."