Gay former Air Force Capt. Greg Greeley lost his bid for a seat on the Arlington County School Board on May 17 when he failed to win the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Greeley, a single father of two boys who has been active in school-related activities in Arlington for at least 10 years, came in third place in a three-candidate race in which all registered Democrats in the county were eligible to vote at two caucus meetings.
Under rules set by the party, Democrats running for the seat who don’t receive the party endorsement must withdraw from the race, even though they may legally continue as candidates in the non-partisan school board election in November under the county’s election law.
Public schools activist Barbara Kanninen received 1,549 votes in the first round of voting in the caucuses. Nancy Van Doren received 1,329 votes and Greeley received 839 votes. In an automatic “virtual” runoff between Kanninen and Van Doren, Kanninen won by an 18-vote margin, with 1,812 votes to 1,794 votes for Van Doren.
The voting system called for voters to identify their first, second and third choices among the three candidates on their ballots.
“My campaign ends here, but I look forward to supporting our Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsee, Barbara Kanninen, as we head toward the election in November,” Greeley said in a statement posted on his campaign website.
“While it is disappointing to end this six-month journey tonight, I am encouraged by the way the Arlington community came together today,” he said. “I saw supporters from every area of the county. And I want you to know: We could not have come so far without you.”
Incumbent school board member Sally Baird, who decided not to seek re-election this year, creating an open seat for which Greeley and the other two Democrats competed, endorsed Greeley. Baird became Virginia’s first out lesbian elected official when she first won election to the school board seat in 2006.
Greeley also received endorsements from gay Va. State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who’s running this year for a U.S. House seat; State Rep. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), who’s also running for the same House seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.); and former Virginia Del. Karen Darner (D-Arlington/Alexandria), a highly popular figure in Northern Virginia.
“I don’t think we can put a gay lens on this because I don’t think that was a matter of concern to anybody,” said Bob Witeck, a longtime gay Democratic activist in Arlington and CEO of Witeck Communications public relations firm.
Witeck, who supported Greeley, said that while Greeley has had considerable involvement in school issues Kanninen and Van Doren appear to have been perceived to have more extensive experience. He said both may have been known by more of the relatively small number of people who turned out to vote at the two caucus meetings.
Don Hodgen, assistant registrar for the Arlington Election Board, said aside from Kanninen, the only other person to file papers so far to run in the November election for the school board seat is Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. The deadline for filing and submitting a required 125 voter signatures for ballot placement is June 10, Hodgen said.