Three contested races for the Stafford School Board are on the Nov. 5 ballot, including one for the open George Washington District seat in the southern part of the county.
Dewayne McOsker, who represents the George Washington District, announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election. Carol Huebner Medawar and Susan Randall are running to fill the seat.
In addition, challengers are taking on incumbents in the Griffis–Widewater and Rock Hill districts in North Stafford.
Medawar, who first ran for School Board in 2015 against McOsker, said in an interview that one of her primary reasons for running again is her desire to build a better working relationship between the School Board and Board of Supervisors.
“I think I can facilitate a more collaborative relationship,” she said.
Medawar also feels she would bring a “teacher’s voice” to the School Board.
“I have some ideas to share that are different,” she said. “The role of the School Board is to set the tone at the top, but every decision we make impacts children. I see the impact, and I understand what that means for students and teachers.”
Randall is a first-time candidate who said the process of talking to Stafford County parents and community members during her campaign has left her “excited and invigorated” by the prospect of serving on the School Board.
“I can’t wait for it to be my turn. This is something that has been in my heart to do for quite a while,” she said, adding that she feels she has the time now that two of her three sons have graduated from Stafford County schools.
Randall said she would bring leadership experience to the School Board, from her years serving on PTA and PTO boards and on school division committees, but that she also likes to work collaboratively.
“It’s fun when you are contributing but also learning as well,” she said. “I can have strong feelings, but I like to hear other people’s reasons for thinking differently. When there are differences, I always like to look for the win–win.”
In the Griffis–Widewater District, former teacher and research scientist Elizabeth Warner is challenging incumbent Jaime Decatur.
Warner, a first-time candidate, said she wanted to run because, as a lifelong student, “education is paramount to who I am, and our schools and teachers are under attack.”
“Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals and respected,” she said.
Warner said that if elected, she would work closely with the Board of Supervisors to come up with the matching funds needed to tap into state funding streams.
“We also need to resolve the fact that we haven’t hired enough support staff,” she said.
Incumbent Jamie Decatur, who if re-elected would serve her first full term after winning her seat in a special election, said she believes the experience she brings as a current board member is important.
“We have a lot of work to do, and it’s important we have the right people to do that work,” she said. “We started a lot of great things [in the previous term] that I really want to see through.”
Decatur said she wants to focus on bringing every employee group to the median market salary and work towards moving to the top. She said she is interested in working for the entire school district, and not for political gain.
“I think I’ve made it very clear that political gains will not be tolerated,” Decatur said. “I’m not afraid to call that out.”
She added that she will work to develop “rapport and trust” with the Board of Supervisors.
“Trust is key,” she said. “So that when we ask for something, the funding body knows its the most responsible way forward.”
In the Rock Hill District, School Board Chairwoman Patricia Healy is running against challenger DaBora Lovitt.
Healy, who is running for her sixth term on the board, said her almost two decades of School Board experience sets her apart from her challenger.
“I have been elected five times,” Healy said in an interview. “And I think it’s really important to have people there because they care about the schools and not for political reasons or personal agendas.”
She said she has a good working relationship with members of the Board of Supervisors—stemming from having lived in the county since the 1980s and also being locally employed—that will help her effectively communicate the needs of the schools.
“We need to be able to justify what we’re asking for,” Healy said. “Every taxpayer in Stafford has an interest in the schools because of how we are funded, and also because of the impact the schools have on the community.”
Lovitt is a first-time candidate who graduated from Stafford schools and, after living and working in California, returned to the area to take care of her mother. She said she wanted to run for School Board to give back to the community and school division she benefited from.
“This is where I want to invest my time and energy,” she said.
Lovitt said her experience as a foster parent for children of all ages has given her an understanding of students’ needs and that she looks forward to developing a close working relationship with the Board of Supervisors and advocating for higher salaries for all school employees.