Notebook: VB Dem recommendations in nonpartisan local races; Manning, three others form School Board ticket

Ed. — This appeared in print in the Sunday, Aug. 9, edition. 


The Virginia Beach Democratic Committee recently announced several candidates it is recommending in local Virginia Beach races that are on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

These are not endorsements, per se, because local races are nonpartisan and political parties do not have official nominees. But, as we wrote about in recent editions of The Independent News, the major parties increasingly are sounding off in local races.

“You will see these names on the official VBDC Ballot Guide in November when we go to vote blue up and down the ticket,” the local Democratic committee wrote in a social media statement posted on Wednesday, Aug. 5, a day after the picks were made. “Remember local elections matter, and these are candidates who we believe can best deliver on our Democratic values and ideals.”

Both major parties will likely make recommendations this year. Supporting local candidates has been a major issue in the ongoing effort to pick a new committee chair for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach. Last year, both parties put out sample ballots that included candidates in nonpartisan local races. [Ed. — Recent stories about that effort and the parties’ support for local candidates are available online via]

Anyways, here’s a list of the folks the city Dems are backing for City Council, including the mayor’s race, and School Board:

The party recommends Jody Wagner, who is challenging incumbent Bobby Dyer in the race for Virginia Beach mayor. This is not much of a surprise because Wagner served in the cabinets of two Democratic governors and has run for federal and state office as a Democrat in the past. Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch, a businessperson who previously has run for mayor and City Council, also is in the mayoral race.

In City Council races, the Democrats recommend Brandon Hutchins in the at-large race, Bill Dale in the Kempsville District, incumbent Sabrina Wooten in the Centerville District and Conrad Schesventer in the Rose Hall District.

For School Board, the party supports incumbent Beverly Anderson and M. Paul Telkamp in the two available at-large seats, incumbent Jessica Owens in the Rose Hall District, incumbent Dan Edwards in the Kempsville District and incumbent Trenace Riggs in the Centerville District.

Virginia Beach School Board Member Vicky Manning, seeking reelection this year, is teaming up with three challengers for School Board seats to form a ticket called Students First VB.

Manning is part of a minority on the board. She and incumbent Beverly Anderson seek reelection to the two open at-large seats on the Tuesday, Nov., 3, ballot. Four other people are in that race – challengers Justin Burns, Jeffrey “Doc” Feld, Lauren Logan and M. Paul Telkamp.

In addition to Manning, rounding out the Students First VB quartet are Luis Cortes III, who is challenging incumbent Trenace Riggs in the Centerville District, Jennifer Franklin, challenging incumbent Dan Edwards in the Kempsville District, and Joanna Moran, challenging incumbent Jessica Owens in the Rose Hall District. 

“I just really feel like I have not been able to affect positive change in my current term,” Manning said

Manning said she first ran in 2016 to bring about more accountability in grading practices, but her efforts, along with School Board Members Laura Hughes and Carolyn Weems, lack enough votes to make change. 

“It’s almost always an 8-3 vote being in the minority,” Manning said.

The Students First VB ticket could deliver a new majority and address key issues such as student discipline, accountability in grading and improved school safety.

“We may not agree on everything, but we do agree on the important topics,” Manning said.

Visit for more information about the ticket.

Earlier this year, Notebook wrote about the civil rights legacy of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who died at the age of 80 on Friday, July 17, just before this newspaper went on its summer break. 

Lewis, among many accomplishments, was a lifelong proponent of nonviolent action to overcoming injustice, whether in the 1960s or in this modern moment. He was among the Freedom Riders, led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington and was bloodied at Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Notebook previously has quoted at length from the autobiography Lewis wrote with Norfolk author Mike D’Orso, Walking with the Wind: A Memior of the Movement. Do seek it out because it is a remarkable book. This time, here is a bit from a posthumous column published by The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. […]

“Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. […] If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

“Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. […]

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

So a group called the Center for Voter Information – maybe don’t super-duper buy into that name just yet – sent out a bunch of mailers trying to sign folks up for by-mail absentee ballots in Virginia. 

According to The Washington Post, about a quarter of the mailers had return addresses with the wrong address on them. Good work, team. Notebook’s copy of the mailer was signed by Lionel Dripps, whose name is so gorgeous in this context that Notebook will leave the joke to you, dearest reader. 

The form Notebook got in the mail says Dripps is part of the Center for Voter Information, a 501(c)4 nonprofit. Dripps also appears to be a staffer at a 503(c)3 charity called the Voter Participation Center, which aims to “increase voter registration in the United States among young people, people of color and unmarried women.” Dripps, like others at the groups, has a background in Democratic politics.

Here’s how The Washington Post’s Antonio Olivo started off his story on the matter: “A voter registration group with a history of sending error-ridden mailers has again sown confusion in Virginia, this time tapping into concerns about mail-in ballots sparked by President Trump’s repeated allegations — without evidence — of election fraud.”

The group sent out a note promising to make things right: “We are aware that some of the mailers may have directed the return envelopes to the wrong election offices. The issue affects the following locations: Fairfax City and Fairfax County, Franklin City and Franklin County, Richmond City and Richmond County, and Roanoke City and Roanoke County.”

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the mailers led to confusion here in Hampton Roads, too, and some calls to the registrar in Norfolk. The return address on the mailers received at the Back Bay newsroom have the right address for Virginia Beach.

So, if the goal is to drive participation in the Tuesday, Nov. 3, election, does this help? Mistakes fuel the sort of distrust in the process that can hurt turnout and help arguments against mail-in voting, even in a state that has worked hard to make absentee voting by mail a safe option.  

Additionally, the Center for Voter Information says Notebook’s own voting score is only “average,” which is hurtful information to pass along to someone you are trying to get to do a thing. Mrs. Notebook scored higher, of course. Notebook married well.

Notebook recently revisited an old writing exercise, emulating entries in The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. For your consideration:

buttress — a beam securing the idea above its true purpose 

cadge — a process of representation by which few relieve many of plenty

dimmer — the tool whose chief duty is to modulate public support

neutrino — the precise weight of a political appeal

pasta — the same old thing reshaped

saucier — a senior aide tasked with flavoring executive intent

Notebook runs announcements of endorsements and events as space allows. Reach

© 2020 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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