Moment of truth at hand for Board candidates

Published 6:41 pm Saturday, October 30, 2010

The proof is in the signage around town.

Eight candidates have been hard at work vying over four seats up for grabs on the School Board on Tuesday.

Three incumbent members and five new candidates are running for the Chuckatuck, Cypress, Holy Neck and Suffolk boroughs.

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Chuckatuck Borough

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 has 20 years of teaching experience in Suffolk Public Schools, where she retired this year. 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.

Cypress Borough

In Cypress, William Goodman will attempt to unseat the incumbent chairwoman of the board, 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 his current civic involvement includes service on the Planning Commission, as president of the East Suffolk Gardens Civic League, as commander of the Suffolk chapter of Disabled American Veterans and as a member of the East Suffolk Federated Civic League, National Association of Retired Federal Employees and East Suffolk High School Alumni Association.

Skeeter recently retired from Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project and also formerly taught at Prestige Jordan Day School and Kindergarten and served as a bus driver in Suffolk Public Schools. In addition to her role as chairwoman, Skeeter’s current civic involvement includes being a member of the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology’s board, Zeta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Suffolk chapter of Links Inc.

Holy Neck Borough

In the Holy Neck borough, incumbent Enoch Copeland will be challenged by William Owen, also 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.

After his 45 years of teaching and administrative experience at Suffolk Public Schools, Isle of Wight Public Schools and Nansemond Academy, Owen serves as an adjunct faculty member at Old Dominion University. His civic involvement includes serving as the secretary for the Virginia High School League Foundation Board and chairman of the Sentara Obici Therapy Dog Program. He was also president of the Suffolk Education Association.

Suffolk Borough

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 and 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 was previously an educator and has been an educational consultant since 1994. She is active in the Pilot Club of Suffolk and numerous political organizations.