5 incumbents, 4 new members elected to Richmond School Board

Ronald E. Carrington | 11/5/2020, 6 p.m.
The Richmond School Board will have four new members when the new board is sworn in in January, while five ...

The Richmond School Board will have four new members when the new board is sworn in in January, while five veteran board members retained their seats in Tuesday’s election.

The new board members are Stephanie M. Rizzi, 5th District; Shonda Harris-Muhammed, 6th District; and Nicole Jones, 9th District, who won open seats; and Mariah L. White, who defeated incumbent board member J. Scott Barlow, who has represented the 2nd District since 2016.

Ms. Rizzi, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, beat three other candidates to claim the seat now held by Dr. Patrick Sapini. According to unofficial results posted by the state Department of Elections on Wednesday, she received 54.1 percent of the votes cast to defeat Jenny A. Aghomo, Decardra L. Jackson and David F. Jones Sr.

Ms. Harris-Muhammed, an educator and former city School Board member, edged out two other candidates to win the seat now held by board member Felicia Cosby, who did not seek re-election. Unofficial results show Ms. Harris-Muhammed with a 228-vote victory over her nearest competitor in the three-way race. She received 3,672 votes, while Timika S. Vincent received 3,444, and Lynette R. Plummer received 3,244.

Ms. Jones ran unopposed for the seat now held by board member Linda Owen, who decided to step down.

Returning board members are Liz B. Doerr, 1st District; and Cheryl L. Burke, 7th District; who both ran unopposed. Also, Dawn C. Page, who beat competitor Dana C. Sally-Allen in the 8th District; and Kenya J. Gibson and Jonathan M. Young, who won contested races in the 3rd and 4th districts, respectively. Ms. Gibson beat challenger Sabrina Gross with 62.6 percent of the vote, while Mr. Young outpaced Deanna Fierro, winning 56.9 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns posted Wednesday.

Ms. Page received 64.1 percent of the vote in the 8th District.

The new board will be faced with decisions on how to handle the continuing impact of the coronavirus epidemic on Richmond’s students, teachers and staff and how best to support virtual learning, as well social, psychological and safety needs.

Several current board members also questioned whether new members will support retaining RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras when his contract ends in 2023, as well as the district’s strategic plan, Dreams4RPS.