The Indian American conservative is running for an at-large seat.
Northern Virginia tech entrepreneur Vinson Palathingal, who is trying to create history by the first Indian American to get elected to the Fairfax County School Board, is confident of eking out a victory in the heavily Democratic county in Tuesday’s elections.
“It looks like we have momentum on our side and we are winning,” the Kerala, India, -born businessman, who is running for one of the three at-large seats, said recently.
Palathingal, whose two children attended the county public schools, is running on a conservative platform. He laments that the quality of education in the country, one of the richest in the nation, has deteriorated and vows to arrest the slide.
“Our school system is in serious decay,” he writes on his campaign website. “It is failing miserably in fulfilling their primary responsibility to educate our children. Their focus is on social engineering and not on our children’s academic success. Their reckless spending contributes to our real estate taxes going through the roof year after year. They are moving in on the family’s responsibility for moral education by driving a wedge between children and parents.”
Empowering and trusting teachers for classroom discipline, Increasing STEM preparedness and US history education, addressing minority achievement gap, and controlling school board budget, as well as the county real estate taxes, are some of the issues Palathingal is running on.
The McLean resident has been campaigning since the spring. “We didn’t have any other activities other than campaigning for the entire spring and fall,” he said recently.
During the period, Palathingal has knocked thousands of doors and attended hundreds of campaign events.
The Indian American candidate said he has been fortunate to have a strong group of volunteers, many of whom are from the Indian American community, helping the campaign.
A fiscal conservative, Palathingal says the Faifax County Public Schools, which has a budget of $3 billion, consumes 53 percent of the entire Fairfax County expenditure, and voters should know where the money comes from where it is going.
Fairfax County Public Schools, the 10th largest school district in the nation, has a student population of more than 188,000 students.
The campaign has not been without challenges. Fairfax County is one of the largest counties in the country, accounting for 13 percent of the population of Virginia. Being an at-large candidate, Palathingal had to campaign throughout the country. Because of the size of the school district, he had to cover more ground campaigning than local congressional candidates.
Secondly, Fairfax County is a Democratic stronghold, with the party holding nearly all statehouse and Senate seats.
Even though School Board is officially nonpartisan, for a conservative candidate to win an at-large seat is a big challenge.
A board member serves for four years.