Reform candidates win two WJCC School board seats

mcanty@vagazette.com

Three new members will sit on Williamsburg-James City County School Board in 2016.

Reform candidates Holly Taylor and Sandra Young won hearty victories in Stonehouse and Berkeley districts, defeating incumbent James Nickols and William and Mary professor John Riofrio, respectively.

Taylor and Young could not be reached for comment Tuesday night on their victories.

Another William and Mary professor, James W. Beers, beat out Petra Nadal in the Roberts district.

The winners join current board chairman, Jim Kelly, from the Jamestown District, Powhatan District representative Joe Fuentes and two members appointed to the board by the City of Williamsburg, Kyra Cook and Elise Emanuel.

The composition of the board, which sets policy for the school district of more than 11,300 students, may change again soon with Emanuel's appointed term ending in December.

Tuesday's school board race included an upset for incumbent board member Nickols, who had been on the board for eight years. Unofficial results show Taylor over Nickols, 54 percent to 46 percent. Taylor garnered 1,931 votes to Nickols' 1,654.

"My focus has always been on what is best for the children," Nickols said. "I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish, and I wish Holly the best. I hope she finds the time to commit to being a board member."

Taylor has been a teacher for five years and is the married mother of one. She's also a children's counselor for a local non-profit agency where she counsels children individually and in group.

Young, a mother of seven with more than 30 years of teaching experience, beat Riofrio, who was also a newcomer, with unofficial results showing Young over Riofrio, 54 percent to 45 percent. Young won 2,299 votes to Riofrio's 2,080.

They were running for the board seat vacated by Ruth Larson, who was elected Tuesday to James City County Board of Supervisors.

Taylor and Young both ran with another candidate, Nadal, on a reform platform that opposes Standards of Learning tests, the fourth middle school plan and believe the district's spending needs to be re-prioritized.

Nadal lost to Beers in the Roberts District, with the unofficial tally showing Beers at 54 percent and Nadal at 45 percent. Beers collected 2,008 votes; Nadal had 1,627.

The two were vying for the seat vacated by Heather Cardaso, who lost her bid for the Roberts seat on the county's board.

Beers could not be reached for Tuesday night after his win.

Reach Canty at (757) 345-2341.

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