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Todd Mathes, a retired military officer and the current chairman of the York County Planning Commission, was chosen Thursday night to fill the late Page Minter’s seat on the York County School Board.
Mathes, 53, has lived in York County since 2005. A program analyst for Langley Air Force Base, he made his first foray into local government as a member of the county’s Parks and Recreation Board in 2011. He was appointed to the planning commission in October 2012 and became chairman last July.
Mathes was one of nine applicants and one of four finalists for the interim school board seat. He will represent District 4 — which includes the areas of Grafton, Dare and Harwoods Mill — until a candidate is elected in November to complete Minter’s term.
Minter was serving his sixth consecutive term on the school board — he was first elected in 1995 — when he died of a heart attack on April 4.
“It’s humbling,” Mathes said of his appointment to Minter’s former board post. “I’m not even going to attempt to fill his shoes because there’s no way he can be replaced.”
The remaining school board members voted unanimously to appoint Mathes after they had conducted a series of meetings, held applicant interviews and hosted a public hearing to solicit feedback about the finalists.
In a prepared statement, School Board Chairman Robert George listed seven reasons why Mathes “rose to the top” of the list, citing his experience with budgets, planned growth and capital improvements, as well as his personal investment in the local schools. Mathes has two children who graduated from Grafton High School and an eighth-grader who attends Grafton Middle School.
“He has a vested interest in the success of the York County School Division and would be a valuable asset to the York County School Board,” George said.
As an interim school board member, Mathes said he would like to devise long- and medium-range plans to tackle the school division’s aging infrastructure. Like his predecessor, Mathes is an advocate of vocational training and will seek opportunities to bring vocational and technical classes back into the schools.
Mathes said he will resign his position on the planning commission to devote his time to the school board. Not envisioning his role as a temporary appointment, he said he plans to run for the District 4 seat in November.
“This is a good way to make sure we have good education and good training for the workforce,” Mathes said.
Although the York County School Division received nine applications for the interim position, it did not release any of the names before the list was narrowed down to four. Residents were invited to offer comment on the four candidates during a public hearing on May 12.
Besides Mathes, only one other finalist, Stephen Roane, attended Thursday’s meeting. Roane had challenged Minter in last November’s general election but lost by 431 votes.
Although the vacancy reignited his drive to serve on the school board, Roane said he plans to step back and consider what role in local government would suit him best, noting that he wouldn’t rule out seeking the planning commission seat soon to be vacated by Mathes.
Thursday was the deadline for the school board to select an interim member, as it marked 45 days since Minter’s death. If an interim member had not been chosen within that 45-day window, the decision would have gone before the York-Poquoson Circuit Court.
Voters will choose a candidate to complete Minter’s term in the District 4 seat via a special election on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The term will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
Those interested in running for the District 4 school board seat have until Aug. 19 to declare their candidacy and file the necessary paperwork. Click here for more information.