Franklin defeats Edwards, former VB School Board chair, in Kempsville District race; other incumbents return

Ed. — From the Nov. 15, 2020, print edition. Archived on Dec. 7.

Jen Franklin [Courtesy]

VIRGINIA BEACH — School Board elections favored incumbents on Tuesday, Nov. 3, but challenger Jennifer Franklin, running for the first time, defeated incumbent Dan Edwards, a longtime member of the board who served as its chairperson for 18 years.

In the Kempsville District, Franklin won 54.1 percent of the vote to defeat Edwards, who won 45.6 percent, according to unofficial returns reported by the state as of Monday, Nov. 9.

Franklin is a mortgage banker who served in the Navy, and she ran as part of a VB Students First ticket with School Board Member Victoria Manning, who won reelection to one of two at-large seats, and two other challengers who lost. 

The other incumbents who won were Beverly Anderson in the other at-large seat, Trenace Riggs in the Centerville District and Jessica Owens in the Rose Hall District.

“I’m very humbled and grateful to so many people, obviously those who supported me and those who came across party lines,” Franklin said during an interview.

By that, Franklin meant that candidates for nonpartisan races appeared on partisan sample ballots. Franklin and members of her ticket had the backing of the city GOP committee. Edwards, among others, had support from city Democrats.

“I am grateful to Dan for all these years of service he gave to our community,” Franklin said this afternoon. “I’m just grateful to the opportunity and excited to serve.”

Edwards is a retired U.S. Navy officer who served for 25 years and a businessperson who was first elected to the School Board in 1998. He served as its chairperson from 1999 to 2016, and then as its vice chairperson for two years. He prioritized reopening schools during his campaign, among other issues. He has been part of an 8-3 majority on the board, which is sometimes a fractured body. 

Franklin said seeing the election in terms of that divide was too narrow a way to review the result, and Edwards agreed.

“I think she’s going to be her own person,” Edwards said during an interview.

“Her involvement with the community and the schools will serve her and the board well going forward,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a really good replacement.”

Edwards said he is proud to be a part of the system’s successes over the years, such as going from one school being accredited to full accreditation and implementing additional specialized academies.

Edwards said he initially was disappointed with the result, but he also feels ready to move on.

“I’m very happy the board still has a strong majority headed in the right direction,” he said.

Franklin placed returning students to classrooms as a priority, and other issues included enforcing student discipline.

In other Virginia Beach School Board races, according to unofficial returns:

Anderson (31.1 percent) and Manning (29.25 percent) each won an at-large seat over challengers Matthias Telkamp (14.8 percent), Lauren Logan (12.1 percent) and Jeffrey “Doc” Feld (11.9 percent).

“I am so thankful for the friendships I have made and the wonderful people I have met through this election cycle,” Manning wrote in a statement. In another post to social media, she thanked supporters and congratulated Anderson.

Anderson, in a statement, wrote that she appreciated support from voters, noting that many stood in long lines at the polls.

“I will continue to be an advocate for the students, teachers and employees of VBCPS as I work in collaboration with my colleagues on the board,” she added.

Riggs won 54.3 percent of the vote and reelection to the Centerville District seat by defeating challenger Luis Cortes III who won 45.4 percent of the vote.

Riggs in a statement on Friday, Nov. 6, thanked supporters in her reelection effort.

“I promise to continue my commitment and service to uphold the high standards of VBCPS and the students, families, teachers and staff and community,” she wrote.

Owens won 55.9 percent of the vote to defeat challenger Joanna Moran (43.7 percent). Owens won her first full term on the board after being temporarily appointed to the seat and later winning a special election this past year.

Owens’ appointment came after the removal of former School Board Member Joel McDonald from the district seat due to a residency issue. McDonald himself was among the candidates Owens defeated last year to finish out the term he had begun.

“I am so very honored to have earned the ability to keep representing Virginia Beach on the School Board,” Owens wrote in a statement following the win this year. “Thank you so much for your faith in me, and I hope to continue to support our children, our families, our staff and our community for the next four years.”

© 2020 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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