It took the Falls Church School Board less than 20 minutes this morning to select out of a field of eight prospects Cecily Shea as its unanimous choice to temporarily fill a vacant seat on the seven-member board, pending a special election in May. Shea was cited as the “clear choice” for the short term as the School Board tackles its annual budget in the next month because, as Board member Joan Wodiska put it, “She’s been a budget watchdog for the better part of a decade and we’ve always relied on her.”
All five of the board members present (Rosaura Aguerrebere absent) commented on the unexpectedly large number of citizens who formally expressed interest in the appointment. A total of eight registered themselves prior to the deadline at noon yesterday. Board member Kieran Sharpe hailed what he called “a new spirit of activism in Falls Church” reflected in the large number of applicants. “This is a precursor of good things to come, even though we need someone who is ready to step in right now for the short term.”
Sharpe noted the “tremendous diversity” represented in the list, calling it “a wonderful thing,” and urged some on the list to consider serving Falls Church in “general government activities.” There are, he said, “some diversity gaps” in City government now. “We’re good at reaching the upper middle class activist parent, but not with the most vulnerable in our community. Despite our short-term decision today, I hope over the longer term some who’ve stepped forward will stay with the spirit of service.”
Board member Greg Rasnake said he was “very pleased with the quantity and quality of applicants, bringing strong human resource, government and academic credentials.” Board chair Susan Kearney and the other board members echoed their enthusiasm for the unexpected response from such a large number of citizens.
Shea will fill the board seat vacated by the resignation of Patrick Riccards last month, who moved out of the City on business. In early May, a special election to fill the seat for the remaining two years of its term will occur along with the regularly-scheduled election of City Council and School Board members to full four-year terms.
The eight who applied for today’s appointment are Linda Becker, Justin Castillo, Shannon Ashpole Litton, Rena Marsh, Barbara Nooter, Karen Oliver, Keith Thackrey and Shea.