Following the Meet the Candidates event sponsored by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce on April 23, some candidates expressed their desire for more access to the public as a group and so the Chamber set about to make that happen.

“It seemed like after the meet the candidate breakfast event we had, the Board of Education candidates felt they had not gotten to express themselves fully so we had tried to come up with another event with the BOE candidates and the public,” said Sharon Cruikshank, executive director of the Chamber.

“With everyone’s schedules being so busy, that didn’t happen,” she said this week. “So then we asked them to send in a statement about why they want to be elected to the board, their goals, and we sent it out to the chamber membership and the public.”

Cruikshank said she was pleased with the interest showed at the Meet the Candidates event, but urges more county residents to exercise their right to vote.

“We hope people will get out and vote,” she said. “It’s very disheartening when you look at the totals of the people who do come and vote compared to the number of people in Fayette County. It’s no wonder we have challenges.”

Early voting is under way through May 10 at three county locations: Danese Community Center, Fayette County Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Building in Fayetteville and the Montgomery City Hall. Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 13. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. For a list of the county’s polling places, see the Monday edition of The Fayette Tribune.

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Following are statements made by candidates for the Board of Education in Fayette County as provided by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Steve Bush: People ask why I am running for re-election. The answer is simple, the job is not finished. When I was first elected to the board, we were in trouble. I knew that there was much work to be done to regain local control. I am happy to report that the board is now in the process of regaining control. We cannot afford to go backwards. Now more than ever experience counts. We must keep moving forward. I offer a record of hard work and service. It is easy to say things like “The system is broken.” Anyone can complain. Few can lead.

I offer positive solutions to tough issues. Teachers must be supported. I have a record of backing teachers when it comes to discipline and job security. When teachers need support, I am there. When the AFT and service personnel heard from all board candidates, I am honored to report that I was the candidate endorsed from the Plateau district.

I believe students need to be in facilities that are safe and promote learning. One of the first things I did was see to it that Oak Hill, Fayetteville, and Midland Trail high schools all got new roofs. Midland Trail High School also received a water treatment system implemented. Furthermore, Rosedale Elementary and Meadow Bridge High School got much needed repairs, Valley High School got a new gym, and Valley Elementary got additional classrooms. Lastly, New River Elementary was built. My record speaks for itself.

I will always support students and teachers and advocate for community schools. This year more than ever your vote is vitally important. I urge you to vote May 13. I want to continue to support the students and teachers of Fayette County. Together we can continue moving in a positive direction.

Pat Gray: I want to provide the children of Fayette County the best educational opportunity possible. The education we provide our children will be the foundation that will either prepare them to succeed in life or not. That is the purpose and primary goal of the public education system and it is intended to provide equal benefit to all children and not to discriminate based on socio-economic, geographic, or any other defined demographic.

I intend to help provide enhanced curriculum, expanded vocational assets, increased high school retention efforts, and ensuring the right tools are provided to our teachers, service personnel, and administrators to allow our children to succeed. Each part of this equation is essential to the success of our children and success cannot be completely achieved without each part working in unison.

We must also provide fiscal responsibility in managing our educational system for the taxpayers of Fayette County. I believe my experience in organizational leadership and opportunity to learn about the needs and successes of our school system over the past four years, uniquely positions me to provide the leadership needed to take back our school system from Charleston and work in collaboration with the other board members to lead our school system to success in the future.

Summary: Provide the widest range of quality based educational opportunities for the children of Fayette County.

Provide the right tools to our teachers and staff to support the educational needs of the children of Fayette County.

Provide fiscal responsibility in managing our educational system for the tax payers of Fayette County.

Teri Harlan: My name is Teri Harlan. I am running for the Fayette County Board of Education in the Plateau District against incumbent Steve Bush. I work for the United Way of Southern West Virginia as the Director of Resource Development. For 14 years I worked at New River Health managing their school-based health center program in Fayette, Nicholas and Raleigh counties.

I have four children in Fayette County schools and am strongly committed to the philosophy that all Fayette County children deserve a quality education. I believe that working together with our dedicated educators and administrators, we can make the most of our resources and move Fayette County forward. For many years I have been concerned over the state of our school system. I am committed to making sure our school system is being run efficiently, ensuring a safe learning environment, supporting our teachers, and above all, keeping our children as our focus.

Fayette County’s educational system was taken over by the West Virginia State Board of Education in February 2010. Reasons for the state take-over included concerns that Fayette County had too many high schools, weak high school curriculum as well as substandard and unsuitable school buildings. Fayette County has seen little improvement since the state take-over over four years ago. We need to regain local control and elect board members who have a vested interest in improving schools for all children in Fayette County. Fayette County is ranked 53rd out of 55 counties in achievement. We can do better. We must do better. Our children deserve better.

I am asking that you please vote for me on May 13 so we can begin to work together and move Fayette County forward. Working together we can take Fayette County schools to the top!

Patsy Holliday: Thank you for this opportunity to share with the Chamber members my “I Have a Dream” plans for improvement of our Fayette County schools.

My main goal focuses on our children’s academic advancement and the safety/welfare of each and every student. I am an ardent supporter of non-consolidation. I am for decreasing the amount of time our children are on the buses, along with stamping out bullying, decreasing drop-out rates, decreasing drug problems, and a head-on approach to decreasing discipline problems.

On the other educational hand, I am a supporter of community schools, increasing test scores, increasing hometown pride. I am a steadfast believer that all children have an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities (not limited to a few), plus improvement of building maintenance. I will work diligently to regain control of our schools back from the state.

I, too, want to bring to the forefront how our school got into the state’s control in the first place and put a stop to selective transparency! Bottom line is that I want to help develop policies that provide the best education/safety for all our children.

Thank you again for this opportunity.

Amanda Storey: First, I would like to thank everyone interested in this Board of Education race, as well as the current board members for their time and dedication to our county’s youth.

I am running for the Board of Education as a lifelong champion for early childhood education. I am a mother of two girls, as well as an educator. I taught at Boomer and at Danese and strongly represent those two areas, even with my personal interest in the Plateau.

I feel that the current educational atmosphere in the county would benefit from me on the board for many reasons. I believe that a board needs to listen to, and work with its community for the benefit of all schools, not just a privileged few. I will bring transparency through action, developing a Board website that will show all budgetary issues and decisions.

I want to see to it that the needs of this whole county are being met and that we are all working together towards a common goal. That goal is leading our children to a life of happiness and success. By working closely with our educational staff and community, we can come up with solutions that will fit all communities. I thank you for your time and support through this election.

James (Jock) Workman: I want to send our schools in a new, more positive direction. One does not need a college degree to get a good job. College is meant for a few. I am tired of seeing people with useless degrees starting at low-paying jobs to pay off large loans. This occurs because they have few or no job skills.

I propose enlisting assistance of the Chamber, the County Commission, and other local organizations to procure funding to purchase the old K-Mart building and making it an auxiliary to (Fayette Institute of Technology). This would provide us with the space to offer courses that would result in employment upon graduation, i.e., Jan Care has said that an EMT course would result in 15 hires a year at $30,000.

Businesses would tell us what they need and courses would be designed to meet those needs. Local artisans and skilled people could be hired to do the teaching. Instruction in higher math and science would leave the local schools to teach the basics. SAT-ACT prep courses could be taught.

Careers in cosmetology, small engine repair, home health care (just to mention a few) would offer immediate employment. A trained and skilled work force would draw businesses and people to our county, boosting the local economy.

Just thinking about the possibilities is exciting. I feel all candidates could support such a program. If elected, I intend to pursue such a program. A partnership between local businesses and the Board of Education will make it work.

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