Election season is here.
Monday marked the first day hopefuls could file the necessary paperwork to run on Nov. 7 for either of the two open seats countywide, including on the Williamsburg-James City County School Board.
James City County resident Lisa Ownby, who currently holds the Powahatan seat on the school board after winning the special election last fall, was first to submit her paperwork Monday along with the minimum required 125 signatures.
"I would like to serve a full term," Ownby said. "The issues that I ran on — school equity, teacher compensation, transparency and closing the achievement gap — are still relevant issues, and I would like to work with the board to address those things."
The Powhatan seat opened in January 2016 after Joe Fuentes announced his resignation with two years left of his four-year term. Ownby's time on board is set to end at the end of December.
Now she's running for her own full term.
Ownby said she feels qualified because three of her four children are still in W-JCC schools and that her four months in the Powhatan seat have been successful, but not enough.
The board was entrenched in the search for a new superintendent. They're now dealing with a tight fiscal year 2018 budget and looking ahead to the challenge of redistricting. Ownby said those issues will take up the bulk of her 2017 term, and she wants the chance to enact more change in the division.
James City County Voter Registrar Dianna Moorman said there are always candidates like Ownby who turn in their paperwork as soon her office doors open.
"We have a lot of people that do turn them in early or as soon as possible, but it varies depending on whether there's a lot of interest or not," Moorman said. "This year there is interest in almost every office, it appears."
For school board hopefuls, being first this year will make a difference on the November ballot, she said. Because Ownby filed first, her name will be at the top.
"It just changed this year," Moorman said. "It used to be alphabetical, now the person who turned in their paperwork first is at the top of the ballot."
The change only applies to those running for school board because they are required to run as independents, Moorman said.
No one has filed paperwork to challenge Ownby or for the other open school board seat in the Jamestown district, Moorman said.
Former school board chairman Jim Kelly has held a school board seat since 2010.
He said he is running for reelection to the Jamestown district; he started collecting the necessary 125 signatures last weekend.
He was asked to run for a county Board of Supervisors seat, but said he decided to stick to his to what he knows and where his background is: education.
"I still believe passionately that I still have a lot to offer to the board, the school system," Kelly said. "I've enjoyed my service and think that we've done some good things, and there's still a lot of work to do."
Kelly, and any other school board hopefuls, face a 7 p.m. deadline on June 13 to file with the registrar's office. The election will be Nov. 7.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.
W-JCC School Board openings for Nov. 7 election
James City County Powhatan district:
Lisa Ownby currently holds the seat; she is the only candidate to file paperwork for the seat.
James City County Jamestown district:
Jim Kelly currently holds the seat.
No one has filed paperwork for election to the Jamestown seat.