Four candidates are running for three seats on the West Point School Board. The three candidates with the highest vote totals will be elected to the board.
Incumbents Paul Diggs and Elliott Jenkins are seeking re-election, with Kay Lawson, who was appointed an interim School Board member in February after Lynn Vogel resigned, joining them. Newcomer Carolyn D. Bucker also seeks a seat on the board.
All of the candidates have ideas on how West Point Public Schools can continue to improve and why they think they can serve the position well.
Richmond native and mother of two sons, Buckner has lived in West Point for 23 years and said she’s proud to be a Pointer.
Buckner was active in the division’s parent teacher organization for several when her sons were younger. Buckner lives in town with her husband, Gregory, and sons, ages 21 and 16.
“Education has always been important to me,” Buckner said. “I was treasurer, vice president and president for the PTO and was also on the YMCA board for our parks and recreation activities.”
Buckner is a client service manager for MMB Consulting LLC and an associate insurance representative for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.
Buckner has been on the Career and Technical Education subcommittee for the district for two years and said she has enjoyed being more involved in the school system.
“I felt that led me to run for the School Board,” Buckner said. “It’s been laying on my heart for a while and I feel as Christians we are supposed to help one another.”
Buckner said she believes she could be a great asset on the School Board as a parent and consultant.
“In my job I do a lot of listening and designing financial plans,” Buckner said. “Which I think could really come in handy, particularity during the budget season.”
Buckner said she has seen the division evolve to offer more career and technical opportunities, but she thinks those opportunities need to be expanded.
“I think every child should have a safe place and opportunity to learn and reach their potential, regardless of color, income or anything,” Bucker said. “If elected, I would do my best to make sure our division stays on top.”
West Point native and incumbent Paul Diggs is running for his third term on the School Board. He is the board’s current chairman.
Diggs is a branch manager for Schnabel Engineering in Richmond and has been with the company for 35 years.
After living in Richmond for 20 years, he returned to his hometown to raise his family with his wife, Mary. They have one stepson, 27, one son, 18, and twin daughters, ages 16.
Diggs said he has enjoyed his time on the School Board and seeing how much the town and division have progressed.
“I think we have done a great job at preparing kids for college. Now we are giving students the opportunities for the workforce through Bridging Communities Career and Technical Center and Rappahannock Community College.”
The chairman said if he is re-elected he hopes to expand opportunities for students in even more career fields.
Diggs said he’d like to stay on the School Board to see through various upcoming capital improvement projects and help with the Department of Education’s recent shift from Standards of Learning tests to collaborative and critical-thinking skills.
“I decided to run eight years ago because I have an engineering background and I lived in Richmond for 20 years,” Diggs said. “I have a different perspective on things and still have things I want to accomplish for the schools here.”
West Point native and would-be third term School Board member Elliott Jenkins followed his family’s footsteps in education.
Jenkins, a supplier manager for Capital One, lives in his hometown of West Point with his family.
He and wife Erica have children in each of schools: a daughter in ninth grade, a son in seventh grade and their youngest daughter is in fourth grade.
Jenkins said he first ran eight years ago to instill a sense of community into his children and to follow his family’s history.
“My wife is a teacher at Creative Critters daycare. My mom was a teacher for 40 years, 27 of those in West Point,” Jenkins said. “My dad worked in both West Point and King William schools and my grandma was a secretary at the high school for 25 years.”
Jenkins said he wants to continue to work with the great staff, administration and families in the division.
“People always ask our superintendent or us on the board what our secret is for having such a great school division,” Jenkins said. “There’s no secret. We work hard, we have great students and families and we have a great relationship with the town.”
During his time on the board, Jenkins said one of his greatest accomplishments has been the new heating and air conditioning system approved and installed in 2013-14.
“It was long overdue and expensive at $7 million,” Jenkins said. “But it’s the air the kids breathe every day.”
If re-elected, Jenkins said he wants to continue to move forward with more career and workforce opportunities.
“We need opportunities for every child,” Jenkins said. “Every child deserves a chance at either college or a jump start in the career force.”
The longtime communications industry professional and West Point native was appointed interim School Board member in February.
Lawson was with the Richmond-based advertising firm The Martin Agency for three decades as a hiring and recruiter manager.
Lawson was commuting between Richmond, West Point and London for years until she decided to form her own online recruiting business in February 2017.
Lawson said she always wanted to volunteer in the community and saw her short interim period as a School Board member as a great test run.
“It was only a few months, but I really enjoyed it. I like giving back to the community and I want to do whatever I can to prepare children for life after school.”
Lawson said she brings her communications expertise and perspective of an aunt of children in the school system to the table.
“I don’t have any kids or kids in the school system, so I have a bit of that outside perspective,” she said. “I want to work on maintaining the excellence of our school system. It’s not just about academics, but sports and extracurricular. We have to teach them to think and be good citizens.”
Lawson said she also wants to expand career and technical offerings for students and address the needs and wants of all students.
Election Day is Nov. 6, the town’s polling place is at the Robinson-Olsson auditorium. Three of the board’s five seats are open, and members serve unpaid terms of four years.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter