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Raulston Claims She’s Under Fire for Trenum Replacement Choice

| September 1, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Diane Raulston, Neabsco school board representative to the Prince William County School Board.

Diane Raulston, Neabsco school board representative to the Prince William County School Board.

Prince William School Board member Diane Raulston links efforts to have her election recalled to her decision early on to choose one of Gil Trenum’s recommended people to temporarily replace him on the board.

Wednesday, a website surfaced, asking for residents to sign a petition asking for the recall of Neabsco School Board representative Diane Raulston.

A group called ‘The Prince William County Democratic Campaign Committee’ claims ownership of the website, though the Prince William County Democratic Committee disavows it.

Raulston said she believes the real reason for the recall is directly related to her intended vote for the interim Brentsville school board member.

“It’s about the fact that I said that early on when Mr. Trenum found he was being deployed when they had only three names [I said I would support one of those people.] My position, at that time, was I got to vote any way, so I was going to honor him that way for his service,” Raulston said.

Raulston said she did not believe she did anything that different from School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers who said he would consider at least one of Trenum’s recommended applicants. However, now that there are five applications, Raulston plans to consider all of them.

“There are five people, and I think everybody deserves to be heard and then I will make my final decision.”

Raulston either did not, or could not pinpoint who was behind her recall, but she did not blame the Prince William Democrats.

“That gets dicey for me,” said Raulston. “Which Democratic party? I think it’s the new organization that’s in the Democratic Committee. They are a committee of their own.”

Raulston explains the campaign does not end with the website, but extends to canvassing in Neabsco neighborhoods, saying they even knocked on her parents’ door, unknowingly.

And Raulston disputes accusations on the website that she is not meeting with people and not returning phone calls, saying, “when my constituents call I either talk, or if they text, I send back a ‘thank you.’ I used to call up everybody and have a long conversations, but realized you can’t always do that.”

Raulston reminds people she publicly apologized for her statement that teachers not on board for the name change at Godwin Middle School should leave.

“I apologized for making the teachers feel uncomfortable. If people take your words wrong, you apologize. There is no threat. I don’t have the ability to hire and fire by law,” she said.

Nate Salzman, who served as Sawyers’ campaign chairman during his school board election, admitted to being the executive director of the organization behind the committee. The site registration confirms that the domain is owned by a person from Virginia with “nsalzman” in his email address.

Sawyers’ has not yet responded to a request for a comment on his possible involvement in the Democratic Campaign Committee. Raulston said Sawyers never told her not to vote for any certain person.

Meanwhile, Harry Wiggins, Chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee, emphasized that there is absolutely no relationship between the two Democratic committees. He called the new committee a “cloak and dagger” that has come down from New York.

“[The person behind this] thinks he’s going to take over the Prince William County Democratic Committee by purging Democrats,” Wiggins said, adding that Salzman may be working for someone else, and that person is not necessarily Sawyers.

Wiggins said his Democratic committee continues to support Raulston as does Occoquan School Board member Lillie Jessie.

“I don’t usually call back the newspapers, but I wanted to people to know that I support Mrs. Raulston,” said Jessie. “This is mean and nasty, and it’s not the Democratic party that I know. It just blows me away, and I think it is very unfair to her.”

Jessie said she agrees Raulston is being targeted for how she intended to vote on the Brentsville seat as it has upset a progressive fraction in the county. Jessie said there are always groups asking school board members to vote one way or another; however, in the end, the school board should be about kids, not politics.

“I don’t play politics when it comes to kids. I’ve always said that since I’ve been on the board,” Jessie said.

As for the Prince William Republican Committee, they are strongly suggesting Sawyers is behind the actions taken to remove Raulston from office.

“The fact that Ryan Sawyers’ campaign manager, Nate Salzman, is behind this website and effort is telling,” said Dottie Miller, Chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee. “Ryan is probably connected with it in some way. Since Sawyers was elected chairman, the school board has been more focused on intimidation and political power than focused on our children’s education.”

Miller said this latest move should be a wake-up-call to all residents, saying, “Ryan’s division and bullying agenda is not the type of leadership that our kids deserve in Prince William.”

Raulston said that despite controversy she remains focused on raising the achievement levels of all students rather than playing politics.

“That’s why I ran. We don’t have kindergarteners that are Democrats, Republicans or Independents, we just teach them, and we have great teachers and a great superintendent. My job is to make sure that we know that are kids are achieving. All this other stuff is outside the realm of what my job says we do.”

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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