McElveen announces run for Board of Supervisors chairman

McElveen standing in front of school lockers.
Courtesy of Ryan McElveen

At-large school board member Ryan McElveen is the third Democrat to declare their candidacy for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

With his announcement over the weekend, McElveen joins Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay and Tim Chapman, a Reston-based developer, in the race. The three candidates are vying to replace current chairman Sharon Bulova, who announced in December that she was retiring.

No Republicans have yet announced their intention to run for chairman.

“We are at a crossroads, and we have a choice to make,” McElveen said in a video announcing his run. “Simply put, life has gotten more difficult for many in Fairfax County over the last few years.”

Describing himself as the “progressive choice for chairman,” McElveen touts his work on the school board and lays out an agenda that includes more educational funding, including support for universal pre-Kindergarten education. He also said he will work to rebuild schools and infrastructure, ensure internet access for all and keep taxes in the county low.

McElveen also took aim at the current Board of Supervisors in his announcement, saying its actions have created “two Fairfaxes.”

“While Fairfax County is a wonderful place to live for many, its rapid growth hasn’t worked in the best interests of all of us,” McElveen said on his website. “Decisions made by our Board of Supervisors have increased the stark divide between the haves and have-nots, effectively creating two Fairfaxes.”

McElveen, 32, became the Fairfax County School Board’s youngest member ever after his election in 2011. He grew up in the county and is a graduate of Marshall High School near Tyson’s Corner. McElveen graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in anthropology and East Asian Studies later earned a Master’s of International Affairs in human rights from Columbia University.

The Board of Supervisors is poised for a major change in 2020, with at least four seats up for election this year, including the chairman position. McKay’s run for chairman leaves open the Lee District seat, while Braddock Supervisor John Cook and Providence Supervisor Lynda Smith have announced they are retiring.

While many elected Democrats have already thrown their support behind McKay’s run for chairman — including Bulova, Rep. Gerry Connolly and Attorney General Mark Herring — McElveen’s site does not list any endorsements at this point. In his video, McElveen acknowledges his role as a relative newcomer, saying “there comes a time when experience must give way for new ideas.”

[T]he only endorsement that matters to me is yours, the people of Fairfax County,” McElveen says. “And I will work my hardest to earn it.”