Fairchild, Rittenhouse and Murray-Key win

By Ruthann Carr, Heather Michon

Chris Fairchild will represent Cunningham on the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors.

Fairchild was opposed by write-in candidate Jason Hamshar but carried the district on Nov. 2 with 2,071 votes or 86.62 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Hamshar received 320 votes or 13.38 percent.

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) easily defeated challenger Eric Anderson. Anderson said this morning, “I want to congratulate the winner in the Cunningham district, Charles Rittenhouse, on his re-election to the School Board.”

Anderson added, “I hope the new Board can find ways to come together and do the work needed by the students and the people of Fluvanna County. My profound thanks to my many supporters in the community, to my friends and family for all they have put up with through the campaign season.”

Rittenhouse received 1,662 votes or 64.10 percent to Anderson’s 881 votes or 33.98 percent.

Gequetta “G” Murray-Key claimed victory over Darrell Byers in the race for the Rivanna district seat vacated by Shirley Stewart’s retirement. Murray-Key received 1,397 votes or 52.9 percent to Byers’ 1,225 votes or 46.44 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Incumbent supervisors Mike Sheridan (Columbia) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) ran unopposed and will return for four-year terms. Andrew Pullen (Columbia) ran unchallenged for a seat on the school board.

Ah, school board races: long the ugly stepsister to gubernatorial, mayoral, and council races. But not in 2021, not since culture-war influencers decided to target school boards and other ultra-local races.

Pullen and Rittenhouse cast themselves as a team standing strong against a tide of what they frame as radical ideas that can be harmful to children. Pullen is a firefighter and Rittenhouse is a contractor.

Byers, a captain and division commander with the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Department, aligned himself with Pullen and Rittenhouse championing parents being more included in educational choices. All three have spoken out against mask mandates, transgender policies and teaching Critical Race Theory.

Murray Key and Anderson are both teachers; Murray Key is an adjunct professor of criminal justice studies at Piedmont Virginia Community College and Anderson teaches engineering at the University of Virginia. Both promised transparency, pledged to work with other school board members and to keep the students’ best interest at the center of decisions.

In many minds – school boards, held under a microscope as they’ve been – make decisions that can ruin America or insure children are taught only the right stuff that meets the approval of every child’s parent. A key part of the Virginia governor’s race, which Glenn Youngkin won, was the role of parents in public school education.

School board meetings across the state have been full of people speaking their minds during public comments: most lining up with views of progressives or conservatives, the left or the right, Democrats or Republicans. And even though school board elections are required by law to be non-partisan that doesn’t mean political parties can’t endorse or support a candidate, according to the Virginia School Boards Associations candidate’s guide.

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