School Board candidates start their engines

Published 12:27 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just a month from now, Suffolk will decide the fate of eight different races featuring 17 different candidates. During the next four weeks, the Suffolk News-Herald will examine the races and present the candidates who are vying for election. Today’s edition features an overview of the School Board race. A similar overview of the City Council race appeared in Friday’s edition, and the first of four weekly borough-focused features will appear on Sunday.

Eight candidates will grapple for four seats in the 2010 Suffolk School Board elections.

Three incumbent members and five new candidates will run for the Chuckatuck, Holy Neck, Suffolk and Cypress boroughs on Nov. 2.

Email newsletter signup

Three names will be on the Chuckatuck ballot, including community activist Mary Hill. However, she has chosen to withdraw from the race, she said.

The Chuckatuck incumbent, Vice Chair William Whitley, is stepping down after 18 years of service on the board. Linda Bouchard and Dorothy Bland Gamble are running for the open seat.

Bouchard retired this year after 20 years as a teacher in Suffolk Public Schools. She was an active PTA member and is now the caregiver to her granddaughter.

Gamble is a teacher for Chesapeake City Schools and a member of the Chuckatuck Civic League and Chuckatuck Historical Society, among other area organizations.

In Cypress, William Goodman will attempt to unseat the incumbent chairwoman, Lorraine Skeeter.

Goodman is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a retired supervisory air traffic control specialist. He also worked as a substitute teacher and has served on the Suffolk Planning Commission, Suffolk Garden Civic League, East Suffolk Federated Civic League, the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and was commander of Suffolk’s Disabled American Veterans.

Skeeter will retire at the end of October from Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project and also formerly taught at Jordan Day School and Kindergarten. She has served as chairman of the Suffolk Industrial Development Authority, as a commissioner on the Suffolk Historical Landmarks board of directors, is an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Suffolk Chapter of Links, Inc.

Holy Neck incumbent Enoch Copeland will be challenged by William Owen, a retired educator. Copeland served on the City Council and as vice mayor. He was a teacher and principal in Suffolk Public Schools and is a member of the NAACP.

Owen serves as an adjunct faculty member at Old Dominion University and as the Virginia High School League Foundation board secretary. He was also president of the Suffolk Education Association.

Vying for the Suffolk borough’s seat, Michael Debranski will defend his position against Deborah Wahlstrom.

Debranski has recently retired as owner of a Jostens franchise, but still works there. He also is a retired educator and on the advisory board for the Suffolk branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Virginia.

Wahlstrom has been an educational consultant since 1994 and has worked with schools and school divisions locally, nationally and internationally. She is active in the Pilot Club of Suffolk and numerous political organizations.

See Sunday’s paper for more information about this year’s Chuckatuck borough School Board candidates.