School Board candidates endorsed

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

The race for the Suffolk School Board features vacancies in the Nansemond, Whaleyville and Sleepy Hole boroughs. With recent AYP failures and the struggling graduation rate, there is a real need to improve the School Board roster. The Suffolk News-Herald editorial board took stock of what was needed to move our schools further along, and matched up the candidates who are best qualified to be part of the solution.

The Nansemond seat is the only seat where there isn’t an incumbent. John Riddick Sr. resigned in July, although his attendance at board meetings was rare before then because of ill health. The dearth of attention paid to this borough in recent years makes filling this seat with a strong candidate even more important than it normally would be.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, the Suffolk News-Herald is unable to find a candidate who rises to the challenge and, therefore, elects to not endorse anyone for this seat. Facing off for the Nansemond seat are Thelma Hinton and Marion Mathews. Both candidates have a sure desire to serve, but both lack the experience and substance needed to contribute on the School Board. Although having desire is great in principle, it doesn’t aid much in helping to fix the difficult problems our school system faces.

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The Sleepy Hole seat, however, has a clear leading candidate. James E. Perkinson Jr. has the experience, the understanding of issues, and is a quintessential School Board member. Diane Foster, a strong advocate of early education, lacks the depth needed to address other needs within the system.

The Whaleyville seat has the incumbent Sharon Harris squaring off against challenger Phyllis Byrum. Byrum brings to this race a wealth of experience earned while serving on the front lines during more than 30 years of spent as a teacher. She earned the prestigious title of Suffolk Teacher of the Year in 2000 and will bring a fresh relevance to the board.