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Jefferson dozen seeks 4 seats on school board

February 01, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Dissatisfaction with the current board of education, the challenge of helping the school system deal with the pressures of growth and a large number of open seats are among the reasons being given for why a dozen candidates are seeking election to the Jefferson County Board of Education.

The slate of candidates reached 12 names after the candidate filing period ended last week. The primary election is May 9.

Mike Cassell, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, said he thinks the board of education race is attracting a large number of candidates because people are interested in the issues that face the school system, such as the challenge of providing adequate facilities in the face of population growth.

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Cassell pointed out the portable classrooms that dot the property at Charles Town Middle School as an example of the growth pressures facing the school system.

"The kids call it the trailer park," Cassell said.

Cassell said he also thinks that people are concerned that schools are adequately staffed with qualified teachers.

Scott Sudduth, one of the candidates for the board of education, said he entered the race after he sensed there was dissatisfaction with current board of education members. Sudduth said there is a feeling that the current board of education does not communicate well with its constituency and people are having difficulty getting information, such as details surrounding plans for school projects.

"There were people looking for change," said Sudduth.

Suzanne Morgan, chairperson of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee, supports the incumbents on the board of education and volunteers on a finance committee for the board.

Morgan said she believes the large number of candidates can be attributed to the large number of open seats. Not only are the three seats currently held by Lori Stilley, Delores Milstead and Cheryl Huff up for grabs, but the two-year unexpired term of former board member Jud Romine is open.

Jody Ebbitt was picked to fill Romine's position after he resigned, but Ebbitt has decided not to run for the seat, Morgan said.

Like Cassell, Morgan said she thinks challenges facing the school system are causing people to become interested in running for the board of education.

"I just think people are starting to wake up and see what growth is doing to our county," Morgan said.

In addition to Stilley, Milstead, Huff and Sudduth, the candidates are Susan Pellish, Mariland Dunn Lee, Ed "Pootie" Johnson, Sandy Collier, Pete Dougherty, Gary Kable, Timothy Hayden and J.J. Cook.

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