A Colonial Forge High School government teacher and veteran political candidate is the newest member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

Tom Coen, 56, was sworn in Wednesday after supervisors unanimously voted to appoint him to the George Washington District seat, which Bob Thomas vacated last month after starting a two-year term in the House of Delegates.

Coen is technically an interim supervisor and must run in a special election Nov. 6 to keep the job for the remainder of Thomas’ term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019.

Coen, a Planning Commission member who unsuccessfully vied for the seat as a Republican in 2003 and 2007, said he intends to run again in this year’s special election. He is well known in Stafford political circles, having served on a variety of county and schools committees and as the co-host of a political talk show on public-access TV.

The 20-year Stafford teacher said he knows all of the supervisors, adding: “We’ve disagreed on different issues, but we’re always friends. That’s what you hope for in life.”

Supervisors interviewed Coen and two other finalists behind closed doors Wednesday after receiving seven applications to fill the vacant seat. The other finalists were Tony DeTora, a congressional advisor who sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014, and Gordon Silver, a southern Stafford native and financial services manager for Cox Automotive.

In a statement, Supervisors Chairwoman Meg Bohmke called all of the applicants “very qualified,” but said Coen’s experience stood out. “Mr. Coen has demonstrated a dedication to the community and an understanding of our challenges and goals,” she stated.

Thomas had held the seat since 2012.

In his application, Coen wrote that his goals include establishing long-term planning procedures and preserving the county’s rural character, which he said is especially important to residents of the George Washington District. He said he’s not sure who he will nominate as his replacement on the Planning Commission, which makes recommendations on proposed developments.

In his remarks after the appointment, an emotional Coen thanked his mother, Marilyn, for her support. “Anything I’ve been able to accomplish … in life is because of her character and qualities,” he said from his new seat on the board’s dais.

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Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402 jbranscome@freelancestar.com

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