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Three candidates are looking to represent Williamsburg on the WJCC School Board, but only one applicant got the backing of the member she would replace during a public hearing Thursday.
Elise Emanuel, the outgoing Williamsburg representative on the board, threw her support behind Julie Hummel, the associate director of program development and innovation for the undergraduate business program at William & Mary.
While she said she was thrilled to see three people –Hummel, Delores Bagby and Linda Hertzler – had applied for the position and believes any of them would be good additions to the school board, she said she wanted to note Hummel’s “active involvement” in the school division, specifically her experience on the citizens redistricting committee.
“I personally believe, having been through [redistricting] several times, you need to have someone who’s tough and can represent the City well,” Emanuel said. “Julie has the experience on advising the School Board on redistricting.”
Emanuel, who has served three four-year terms on the School Board, decided not to seek appointment to a fourth, officially opening the seat to new board member. Her current term expires Dec. 31.
Of the 15 people who spoke during the public hearing, held Nov. 12 at the city’s Municipal Building, four advocated for Hummel, five backed Hertzler, who owns landscape design and construction company Hertzler & George, and six recommended Bagby, who is retired but volunteers as the graduate adviser of William & Mary’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and is a life member of the York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP.
Hummel’s supporters commended her on her work ethic, temperament and personality.
Robert Welsh, a former School Board member who was appointed to the Williamsburg seat in 1995, worked with Hummel on redistricting and said she has the “knowledge, attention and concentration” needed to succeed on the School Board.
“I found her tactful, intelligent, thoughtful and so easy to work with,” Welsh said. “I just don’t think you could do better than appoint Julie Hummel.”
Members of AKA, the YJCW-NAACP and New Zion Baptist Church said Bagby would bring knowledge from her time working in Washington, D.C., and Richmond public schools as well as a passion for people, especially students.
Clarence Wilson, president of the YJCW-NAACP, said there is a “critical need for diversity” on the board and Bagby’s “skills, knowledge and passion for strong public education” would be an asset to the board.
“We believe this is a voice that could add context and a fresh perspective on many of the issues the School Board will face in the coming months,” Wilson said.
Kiara Earle, a senior at William & Mary, said Bagby’s “personal care for others” and willingness to help other’s turn their ideas into realities make her stand out.
“I haven’t experienced many who take the care and attention of each individual member of an organization as she does,” Earle said. “She’s always available and always organized and whenever there’s a question, she always has an answer.”
Family, friends and colleagues of Hertzler spoke to her dedication to her work, whether it’s volunteering in WJCC schools or tending to her garden.
Hertzler’s brother, Michael George, talked about his sister’s experience as a drama teacher and her time directing plays at Matthew Whaley Elementary School.
“[For] someone who can pull that off, it takes a lot of collaboration, a lot of understanding, respect and appreciation, all those kinds of qualities that can get things done,” George said. “She would like to bring some of those skills to the issues we have in the school system here.”
Hertzler’s husband, Joe Hertzler, said spouses of public officials think it might be “insane” for him to advocate for his wife’s application, but he said she knows she’s got what it takes to serve on the School Board.
“I’ve seen what it takes for someone to be a good member of a board or commission. I’ve seen what it takes to be an effective member, and I’m here to tell you that my wife can do it,” Joe Hertzler said.
Bagby and Hummel also approached the dais to introduce themselves to the City Council and voice their support for all three applicants.
Mayor Clyde Haulman said the City Council will interview the candidates next week and announce the new representative during the Dec. 10 council meeting.
“I think what I’ve heard today is we have three terrific candidates that we can work with,” Haulman said.
While James City County holds elections for its five seats on the joint school board, the Williamsburg City Council appoints two representatives to four-year terms. The second seat is held by Kyra Cook, who began her first term in 2015.