Bath Supervisors approve staggered terms

The Bath Board of Supervisors approves staggered terms.  At it’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night, the board held a public hearing on staggered terms.  Four people spoke in opposition, saying that the terms of office should be left as they are.  One speaker pointed out that making the change to staggered terms might make a difference in people deciding to run, if they are faced with the possibility of only serving a two year term.

Three people spoke in favor of staggered terms saying that federal and state governments use staggered terms, which provides continuity for a board.  Speakers also said staggered terms provide stability, because it prevents an entire board from being replaced at the same time where it could be replaced with all new members who have no experience.

Board member Cliff Gilchrest said he had spoken to people about staggered terms and had only gotten one objection.  And that person wanted to see the issue on a referendum, to be voted on by the people.  Gilchrest explained that after the next election two people will serve a two year term and those two will either volunteer or be selected at random.  Gilchrest said he wouldn’t consider running in the next election unless he volunteered for a two year term.

Supervisor Bart Perdue said he felt the issue of staggered terms should be a vote of the people, not a vote of the board of supervisors. He said he would not support it with the board voting on it.  Supervisor Claire Collins said she had mixed feelings about the issue because some people in her district are in favor of it and others are not.  Supervisor Kevin Fry said he supports staggered terms and has spoken with many people, some who wanted it and some who didn’t.

On a 3 to 2 vote the board approved establishing staggered terms for the board of supervisors and the school board beginning with the next general election in November 2015.  Supervisors Bart Perdue and Claire Collins voted against it, with Collins saying she voted that way because the majority of the people in her district didn’t want staggered terms.

With staggered terms, members of the board of supervisors and the school board will not all be up for election at the same time.  Every board member will serve a four year term as they do now.  Elections for specific districts of the board of supervisors and the school board will be held every two years, instead of every four years.  Two district representatives will be selected in one election and three district representatives will be selected in the election held two years later.  But to begin that new election cycle of every two years, two representatives will have to serve a two year term after the 2015 election.  Those two will be selected at random or will volunteer.  This two year term only happens one time.  The school board will follow the board of supervisors, so school board members from the same districts will follow the same election cycle as those from the board of supervisors.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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