In Arlington County there is only one African-American elected official at any level of government- despite the county party currently occupying every single elected office in the county. James Lander serves on the School Board and is known as a prickly maverick who doesn't always go along with what the other county Democrats are doing. On the Arlington School Board tradition dictates that the Vice Chair each year becomes the Chair the next year. In July when the position became open, the three white members of the board floated the idea of passing over the only latina on the board- Emma Violand-Sanchez and re-electing their current Chair. Those members- all of whom are great people whom I don't think had any racial motivations- seemed to not understand the implications of what they were proposing just before the first Latina was elected Chairwoman. Lander supported Violand-Sanchez publicly leading to a faceoff that eventually led to the other members backing down to vote for Violand-Sanchez.
Now a group of activists connected to those board members from north Arlington- an area of the county that is 90% white has recruited Barbara Kanninen to challenge Lander for the Democratic endorsement this spring and attempt to knock him off the Board.
Here's my take on this. No seat on any elected board should be reserved by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or anything. However, voters have to make informed decisions and try to create diversity of backgrounds and opinions themselves. In this case- just coming off a racially charged standoff over the Chairmanship- now is not the time to be recruiting a white woman to challenge the only African-American elected official in the county for his seat. This could cause a rift much more important than a school board seat going into an election for Governor. Kanninen may very well be qualified to serve on this Board (as are about 10,000 other people in a place like Arlington), but her participation in such a challenge right after the Chairmanship debacle shows that she does not have the sensitivity yet to represent the entire county.
***Just as a subnote. I know most of the electeds in Arlington. I've never met James Lander. We've been in the same room a few times, but I don't know him at all. Many of my friends don't like him or the way he goes about his political business either. But that doesn't mean what Kanninen is doing here is advisable.