About the Race
The election for Kempsville’s seat on the Virginia Beach City Council takes place on November 3, 2020, in conjunction with the US presidential election. Long-serving incumbent Dan Edwards is running against mortgage loan officer Jennifer Franklin. This race is nonpartisan.
About the District
The Kempsville district is located on the western edge of the city and borders Norfolk. Virginia Beach is an independent city located in Hampton Roads on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth. It is the most populous city in Virginia, with a population of 1.2 million. Virginia Beach is politically split and is considered a toss-up. Donald Trump won the city with 48% of the vote, to Hillary Clinton’s 44%, in 2016. However, in 2018, Democrat Elaine Luria earned 51% of the vote in her election to Congress.
School Board member Dan Edwards is a US Navy veteran and local Virginia Beach business owner who has served on the school board for over 20 years. He has been the chair for 18 years. He also serves on the board of the Virginia Beach Education Fund and the Tidewater College Access Fund. He is a former president of the Virginia Beach Rotary Club.
During his time on the School Board, Edwards oversaw significant changes to Virginia Beach Public Schools. When he was first elected, Virginia Beach had only a single accredited school. The district now has full accreditation.
The Virginia Beach School Board responded to the need for online learning during the pandemic by issuing chromebooks to all students, a move Edwards supported. He also voted to distribute internet hotspots to students without internet access through a program designed to give low-income students access to free lunches. For the new school year, the Board has purchased a program called “Class Link” designed to streamline online learning and make it easier and more accessible to students of all grade levels.
Edwards wants to continue the forward momentum of change and improvement in Virginia Beach Public Schools in the coming years. He believes that mental health awareness is an important part of education and that schools are responsible for understanding their students’ well-being. Edwards lost a child to suicide and has been motivated and actively engaged in improving mental health standards in Virginia Beach schools by supporting policies that will ensure that the social-emotional curriculum is woven into learning at all grade levels.
Edwards supports all of the online learning policies established to smooth the transition for most students during the pandemic. However, he also recognizes that some students, such as those with special needs, may require in-person instruction. The school board has already worked to begin that instruction over the summer and intends to see it continue during the fall.
On issues of discrimination, Edwards is proud that Virginia Beach’s schools have received national recognition for the training that is already in place for teachers, including candid conversations about race. Edwards believes the program is a great start, but that more work is needed to help faculty identify and adequately respond to problematic and discriminatory behavior.
Edwards opposes any proposal that would put more guns in schools and any policy that would allow parents to use tax credits to pay for private schools. Edwards has been endorsed for his run for School Board by the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee.
Edwards’ opponent, Jennifer Franklin, is a mortgage loan officer with Planet Home Lending and has no publicly available information regarding her platform.
Dan Edwards is a progressive choice for this race.