Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Two Candidates for Powhatan WJCC Schools Seat Earn Vocal Support

Frank Abbott, a candidate for the interim Powhatan representative on the WJCC School Board, speaks during a public hearing Feb. 2, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Frank Abbott, a candidate for the interim Powhatan representative on the WJCC School Board, speaks during a public hearing Feb. 2, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

Nearly all of the candidates for the Powhatan seat stated their case for why they should be an interim member of the WJCC School Board during a public hearing Tuesday night, but only two received vocal support from residents.

Eight of the 20 residents who spoke endorsed Lisa Ownby, who works as the director of human resources and marketing at Landtech Resources Inc.

Speakers commended her for her community service work and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Suzie Yeats, president of the WJCC PTA Council, noted Ownby’s “depth of experience, varied work experience” and commitment to volunteering as some of the qualities that would benefit her on the board.

“Her efforts extend beyond her own [children] and her loyalty to WJCC schools is evident,” Yeats said. “I would like to see how she can contribute her experience and insights in public policy to work toward continuous improvement.”

Lisa McColpin, WJCC PTA Council treasurer, called Ownby a “dynamo” who “gets things done.”

“There’s planning. There’s no wishy-washy stuff,” McColpin said.

Ownby said she feels “strongly compelled” to serve on the School Board and, if chosen, intends to draw from her 25 years living in the Williamsburg area and raising children in WJCC schools.

“I am eager to represent the Powhatan District but will work for the entire school division,” Ownby said.

Five residents voiced their support for Jill Dalton, currently the afterschool program coordinator and summer camp director at Baeplex Martial Arts Center.

Speakers recalled Dalton’s success improving two preschool programs, mentoring Girl Scouts and engaging as a parent.

Resident Rena Graham-Montague said Dalton is altruistic and would not seek appointment to the School Board as a political move.

“She should be selected because she’s a fresh face that knows the current concerns of students and parents and would work tirelessly to improve those concerns and help the School Board,” Graham-Montague said. “She wants purely to serve the community and improve the quality of life in the community.”

Dalton briefly addressed the school board, noting she is a product of WJCC Schools and would aspire to “move the school system forward in excellence,” if selected.

Candidates Patti DeBlass, the owner of Schmidt’s Flowers & Accessories; Mary Minor, a former WJCC School Board Chairwoman; David Dafashy, a physician at William & Mary; and Frank Abbott, a human dimension lead at JANUS Research Group, approached the dais to explain why they would like to be appointed, but no residents came forward to offer support for their appointments.

The seventh candidate, Brian Stokes, an adjunct professor at Thomas Nelson Community College and Christopher Newport University, neither spoke nor was spoken for during the hearing.

Geri Farrell of the WJCC Education Association did not endorse a specific candidate but encouraged the Board to select someone with “strong connections to our schools” and experience working with budgets.

Board Chairman Jim Kelly said the candidates will be interviewed Feb. 12 and the elected members of the board will select an interim member by the end of the month. The interim member will serve until a November special election is held to formally elect a Powhatan representative.

The elected Powhatan representative will serve until Dec. 31, 2017, the date former School Board member Joe Fuentes’ term would have expired, unless he or she is re-elected.

Fuentes vacated his seat Jan. 15 after announcing his resignation in December.

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