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Local ballots feature mixed bag of choices
Area voters will decide on school boards, off-track betting, taxes and other issues.

Date published: 10/31/2004

Gordonsville will have a town election without enough candidates.

Culpeper County will vote on a meals tax even though the county has only a few restaurants.

King George County may ditch its elected school board for an appointed one, and Essex County may do just the opposite.

Westmoreland County voters will decide whether to allow an off-track betting parlor in their county, but the town of Colonial Beach may get one regardless of the outcome.

These are issues some area voters will decide Tuesday in addition to choosing a president, a representative in Congress and whether the state constitution needs two more amendments.

Here are summaries of the local choices voters face:

King George School Board

King George voters will decide if they want School Board members to continue to be directly elected or appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

If voters decide to change, the King George School Board would be the first in Virginia to revert to appointments since the state law was changed in 1993 to allow elected school boards, said Frank Barham, executive director of the Virginia School Boards Association. Of Virginia's 134 school boards, just 30 are appointed.

Tension between the public bodies led county resident Terry Moore to start a petition to get the issue onto the ballot. All five members of the Board of Supervisors signed the petition.

Moore said an appointed board would attract a wider pool of candidates with a greater knowledge of education.

"No one that I know of in this county is satisfied with the school system, but no one is doing anything to try and improve it," Moore said. "This is not about personalities. This is about performance and results."

School Board member John Davis Jr. countered that one member, Rose Marie Ball, is a former assistant principal, and several members have experience in government. He is urging voters to keep the elected board.

"If you don't like the people, you just elect new people. You don't give away the right to vote. You change the people, you don't change the system," Davis said.

If the referendum passes, the terms of current School Board members would end on June 30 next year.

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