Until one month ago, Williamsburg-James City County School Board member Joe Fuentes didn’t live in the Powhatan District he represents.
Fuentes recently moved from his home in the Jamestown District to the Powhatan District, and has started collecting petition signatures to run for the Powhatan seat on the School Board. He hasn’t formally announced intentions to run for the seat, he said Thursday.
When voting district maps were redrawn for James City County in 2011, three School Board members were drawn out of the districts they represented: Ruth Larson, Jim Kelly and Fuentes. None of James City County’s five School Board representatives lived in the new Powhatan District at the time.
In the new map, Kelly and Fuentes were both residents of the new Jamestown District. Larson, formerly the Jamestown representative, became a Berkeley District resident.
Elected officials affected by redistricting could either run for seats in their new districts or complete their terms. Larson successfully ran for the Berkeley seat in 2011 and resigned from her Jamestown seat. Kelly was appointed by the board to serve until November 2012, when he was elected to complete Larson’s Jamestown District term, which concludes in December. If he wants to continue serving the Jamestown District, Kelly will have to be elected to his own four-year term in November.
That left Fuentes with two options to stay on the board: Run against Kelly in the Jamestown District or move in order to run for office in the Powhatan District. He did not consider running in the Jamestown District, and had been considering a move for a while, he said.
“I wanted to stay in the Powhatan District,” he said.
The new Powhatan District covers a large swath of the west side of the county, from Lanexa to Olde Towne Road. When the Board of Supervisors was considering redistricting maps, Fuentes suggested an option that would keep his home in the Powhatan District. His option would have also swapped several neighborhoods from Powhatan to Jamestown to compensate.
The map garnered the support of several School Board members and supervisors Jim Icenhour and John McGlennon, who were also drawn out of their districts by the approved map. A motion failed as the supervisors voted 2-2, with member Jim Kennedy abstaining after accusing Fuentes of unethically offering him a political endorsement in return for support for the map. (Read more here.)
Fuentes must collect a minimum of 125 petition signatures from registered voters in the Powhatan District. Candidates for School Board have until 7 p.m. June 11 to file all necessary paperwork to get on the ballot for the November election.