Rockbridge County School Board elections lack competition

By Liza Moore

 

The ballot for the Rockbridge County School Board elections will be short Nov. 5. since there is no real competition among the open districts.

 

Three seats are up for re-election out of the five positions on the Rockbridge County School Board.

 

Rockbridge County School Board members are paid $600 quarterly, with the chair being paid $750 quarterly.

 

Buffalo District

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lovell

 

Wendy Lovell, 51, is running unopposed for re-election for Buffalo District. Lovell is the chair of the board and has served on the board since January 2016.

 

Lovell is from Danville and works as director of donor relations at her alma mater, Washington and Lee University. Before working with the development office, Lovell helped with W&L’s Shepherd Program for nine years as well as a writer for university advancement for 11 years.

 

Despite running unopposed, Lovell said she has participated in candidate forums in order to remind voters about the issues related to the school board.

 

“Funding is always an issue,” Lovell said. “There is a learning curve [on the school board] and it takes time to get to know the issues.”

 

Lovell said she wants to continue the work that the Rockbridge County School Board has already accomplished.

 

Walkers Creek District

 

Neil Whitmore, 52, is running unopposed to again represent the Walkers Creek District.

 

Whitmore has been a member of the school board since February 2018. He was elected to a vacant seat after Jay Lewis was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

Photo Courtesy of Neil Whitmore

 

Whitmore graduated from Virginia Military Institute and serves as the associate director of admissions there.

The Brownsburg resident is captain and secretary for the Rockbridge Baths Volunteer Fire Department and is an elder at Bethesda Presbyterian Church. Whitmore is also an associate member of Brownsburg Ruritan Club.

 

Over the past two budget years, the school board has offered pay raises as well as competitive health insurance options for school employees.

 

“Continuing to have competitive teacher and staff salaries will be a constant goal,” Whitmore said.

 

 

Natural Bridge District

 

David McDaniel, 44, who now represents the Natural Bridge District on the school board, is not running for re-election and instead, is running to represent the Natural Bridge District on the county Board of Supervisors.

 

No candidates filed to fill his place, which means that the Natural Bridge District on the school board will be decided by write-in votes.

Lovell said it caused a lot of concern when she first learned no one was running for that seat.

 

But Kathy Burant, 63, said she has decided to run as a write-in candidate and has been campaigning on Facebook.

 

Burant graduated from University of Akron and has worked in Rockbridge County public schools as both an educator and administrator for 13 years.

 

“Three people considered running but decided not to in order to support my campaign,” said Burant. She has not heard of any other write-in candidates for the Natural Bridge District.

 

Instead, McDaniel is running to represent the Natural Bridge District on the county Board of Supervisors.