Council Examines Elected Board's Future

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

November 21, 2005

On November 8, Charlottesville voters decided that they wanted to elect future school board members. Tonight, they got a chance to influence how that voting process works.

Nearly 20 people spoke tonight with opinions about how the school board election process should work. The opinions ranged from a preference for all at-large candidates to a composition of both mixed-ward and at-large candidates. Most of all, people came with two concerns: diversity and economics.

Now that Charlottesville will elect the next school board, council has to decide how that will happen. Members of the public weighed in on that process.

"They want a School Board composed of people that are responsible and serious about the education of our children," said Stan Tatum.

Two issues came to the forefront of concern, diversity and economics. Some believe a ward system would promote a diverse candidate pool.

"With these small units would reflect the many diverse neighborhoods throughout the city. A School Board elected from these districts would automatically be diverse," said David Repasis.

While others believe the history of Charlottesville voting shows just the opposite.

"Historic residential patterns in Charlottesville may not yield with a ward system, a diverse School Board," said one Charlottesville resident.

The second major concern was economics. Many testified that with an at-large campaign, candidates need more money to cover the entire city, causing a vacuum of power.

"The cost of election would disenfranchise a lot of minority groups.," said John Falls.

City Council made only one decision this evening. They are going to forward the comments from the public and the councilors to the Department of Justice. There the department will ultimately determine the type of election process that will move forward.

The election process will be brought up at a future meeting and at this point, City Council has not set a formal time-table for those future talks.

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