VIENNA, Va. (WUSA) - "I heard voters aid they wanted to vote for the bald guy," said Ryan McElveen, who lost his hair in high school due to a condition sparked by stress. But that's not what makes him so unusual. It's the fact he graduated from high school only 7 years ago, and now, at 25, is the youngest person elected to the Fairfax County School Board.
"I came into the race at the 'under-est' of the underdogs. The least amount of money, least amount of endorsements. It shows money doesn't win elections. You have to do the work." said McElveen.
He believes voters liked his pitch to bring a more student-focused perspective to the board. But most of all, he credits support from the Democratic Party.
"I think it shows voters believe Democrats are good stewards of education funding in Fairfax County," he said.
Several of the candidates who lost had talked about out-of-control spending by the central office. They said oversight was needed from an independent auditor. That message did not resonate with voters.
All four of the incumbents competing in hotly contested races, won. The other three incumbents were not challenged. George Mason Public policy professor Mark Rozell says the election results are not surprising. "The GOP message, I think, that was followed by a number of candidates running for the school board position, that we're doing enough for the schools, we don't need to fund more. It just didn't resonate here in Fairfax County where people say, 'We can do a lot more.'"
A graduate of Marshall High School, McElveen is a product of the Fairfax County school system. He's also a graduate of The University of Virginia where he learned Mandarin Chinese. He also speaks conversational Korean and Spanish. He lived in China for a few years and is engaged to a Chinese woman who is a teacher in New York. He says his win should now convince her to move to Fairfax County.
While McElveen may be the youngest person to win a school board seat in Virginia, he is not the youngest in the country. That distinction belongs to filmmaker Michael Moore, who was 18 when he was elected to the school board in Davison, Michigan.
This is from noteablebiographies.com:
Upon graduating from high school in 1972, Moore decided to run for a position on the school board in Davison. One of his primary campaign promises was that if elected, he would fire the high school principal. Upset by his tactics, a number of people entered the race hoping to push Moore out of the running. The abundance of candidates served to divide the votes, however, enabling Moore to win the race and become the youngest school board member ever elected in the United States.
Written by Peggy Fox