About the Race
The election for Centerville’s seat on the Virginia Beach School Board is held on November 3, 2020 as part of the general election. Former elementary school teacher and one-term incumbent, Trenace Riggs, is running against local business owner Luis Cortes. This race is nonpartisan.
About the District
The Centerville district is located in the southwest corner 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 Trenace Riggs has served on the Virginia Beach School Board since 2017. She worked for 17 years as an elementary school teacher in Virginia Beach Public Schools. Riggs was an active member of the Virginia Beach Education Association (VBEA), serving as a Board and Executive Board Member for ten years. She also served as VBEA President from 2012 until 2016.
During her time on the School Board, Riggs advocated for and implemented changes such as full-day kindergarten classes and helped oversee the transition to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Virginia Beach School Board responded to the need for online learning during the pandemic by issuing chromebooks to all students and distributing internet hotspots to students without internet access through the 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. Riggs was an instrumental part of implementing this plan.
Riggs does not support allowing teachers to carry weapons but does support allowing school resource officers (SROs) to remain in middle and high schools. She has not said whether or not she supports expanding them into elementary schools.
Riggs worked with other school board members to draft the equality policy and create guidelines for increasing equality in school environments by closing achievement gaps, finding ways to address issues that occur within diverse cultures, and honoring and listening to all voices.
She supports the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program that the school board adopted in 2016, which is designed to be a new approach to school discipline that focuses less on coercive and punitive methods.
Riggs has been endorsed for her run for School Board by the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee.
Luis Cortes, Riggs’ opponent, is a Virginia Beach executive who previously worked for the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. He is also the owner of the only Spanish-language radio station in Hampton Roads. Cortes is concerned about the impact that school closures will have on students with disabilities and generally supports school reopening during the pandemic. He has also shown support for the police in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd. He has not made statements on diversity and inclusion or school safety.
Trenace Riggs is a progressive choice for this race.