2006-08-30 / Front Page

Wyman endorsed for Dale School Board

By Greg Pearson

Wyman Wyman The Chesterfield Republican Party endorsed School Board candidate David Wyman last week even though the mostly Republican School Board selected Verena McCall to fill the interim Dale District School Board vacancy last month.

The School Board majority - Marshall Trammel, Jim Schroeder and Dianne Pettitt, all members of the Chesterfield Republican Party - appointed McCall to replace former Dale District School Board member Beth Davis until the Nov. 7 election. The seat was left vacant when Davis passed away in June.

Following her appointment, McCall announced her intention to run for the seat in November, but the Chesterfield Republican Committee voted unanimously to endorse Wyman during its Aug. 21 meeting. At the meeting, Delegate Sam Nixon (R-27th District) motioned for the Wyman endorsement, which was seconded by Chesterfield Supervisor Kelly Miller. Both are Dale District residents.

School Board member Schroeder was present for the vote while Trammell and Pettitt were not. Asked why the Republicans appeared to be changing their minds on McCall, Trammell said the difference was in the two groups - the School Board and the county commitee.

Wyman's endorsement is being criticized by the Chesterfield Democratic Party.

"Three Republicans voted for Verena last month to fill Beth Davis' seat and extolled her qualities. Now the Chesterfield Republicans endorse Wyman. I don't know what changed," questioned Lynne Cooper, spokesperson for the Chesterfield Democratic Party. "Her background and service are unassailable."

McCall explained Wyman's endorsement by saying the Chesterfield Republican Committee "is a small group in the county. David's wife has been active with the Republicans, so they are supporting one of their own. I have been very careful to be nonpartisan and haven't sought the support of the Republicans or the Democrats."

In School Board elections, no party designation appears on the ballot, although the Chesterfield Republican Party usually endorses a candidate.

"Historically, Democrats haven't endorsed School Board candidates because the intent of the position is to be nonpolitical," said Cooper.

McCall received a 3-1 nod of approval from the School Board members last month. The Republicans voted for McCall while Matoaca member Tom Doland, an Independent, favored Jim Holland.

Holland filed his petition for the School Board seat on Aug. 25, making it a three-way race among him, McCall and Wyman. His late filing prevented publishing more details about his candidacy.

The winner this November will serve until Dec. 31, 2007. All School Board members face election in Nov. 2007.

According to Schroeder, Wyman was on a list of possible candidates for the interim appointment, "but he sort of withdrew himself from consideration because he travels a lot." After meeting with Wyman earlier this month, Schroeder is now supporting him. "I'll probably be endorsing him because the party has, and he is highly qualified."

"Because we've been on a superintendent search," continued Schroeder, "[McCall] hasn't had an opportunity to show her strengths. She hasn't made her candidacy known to me and the party. Wyman pursued the endorsement." "[Wyman] comes from a family of educators

and has a passion for education," added Schroeder. "He has an international understanding that public schools are no longer competing just locally but globally, and he has a good understanding of business and finance. Those are good strengths to bring to the School Board."

Wyman recently retired from his hightech, international finance job. He lives in the Highlands community, and his two daughters attend Matoaca Middle School.

While vacationing in France with his family recently, Wyman noted by telephone that French students begin learning a foreign language in the third grade. He also expressed concern about teacher salaries in Chesterfield, saying, "Happy teachers make for happy students and happy parents."

McCall's son attended Chesterfield schools and now her two grandchildren also go to county schools. She is a portfolio administrator for Wachovia Securities and has an extensive track record with local PTAs. "I've been in education working with teachers, schools, principals, parents and the administration for years," stressed McCall.

There could be an opportunity for the candidates to discuss the issues, possibly in October. A candidate forum for the Dale District is "a possibility," said Lois Stanton, president of the Chesterfield Education Association. The association board discussed a forum at its Aug. 29 meeting.

Bordering on the city of Richmond, the Dale District is changing. "In some of my conversations with Beth [Davis], she knew the election in 2007 wasn't going to be a cakewalk because of the population dynamics," said Trammell.

"The demographics are changing in Dale," confirmed Chesterfield Demographer Bill Handley, "and Richmond city is supplying more of the county's new residents. But we don't have specific data."

Since 2000, the Dale District has added 6,000 new residents. Handley said most of that population growth was in the southern part of the district, but indicated changes in households in the northern Dale District were also occurring.

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