Before even being sworn in, a few Bath supervisors plan to undo new policy

In the early afternoon on Friday, November 7th a small and very familiar group gathered in the Bath County Courthouse to hear the following announcement.

“At the general election to be conducted on November 3, 2015 two members of the Board of Supervisors shall be elected for the terms of two years each.   After the November 3rd, 2015 election, if sufficient successful candidates for the Board of Supervisors do not volunteer to accept the two-year term, the electoral board will assign the individual terms of members by lot, and immediately upon certification of the results in accordance with the Code of Virgina 24.2 -219 as amended, and all elections thereafter all successful candidates for the Board of Supervisors and School Board shall be elected for the terms of four years.”

Electoral Board member, John Haney followed this by giving all the supervisors a pause to consider if they would voluntarily serve two instead of four years. The School Board members of their districts will follow the same terms. There was silence, and then John Haney continued,

“Hearing no volunteers, it will go with the drawing of lots.”

After two little capsules with names of districts inside were pulled from a cardboard box, Haney announced Cedar Creek, and Millboro would be the two districts to lead the way into this new election pattern.

And true to political arena form, within minutes after the announcement, a few supervisors were already planning to undo the policy that was enacted by the current board last August. Richard Byrd, who has served on the board in the past, and will return to the Valley Springs seat was the most outspoken. When discussing if a repeal to the new policy could happen in time to keep Cedar Creek representative Claire Collins, and newly elected Eddie Hicklin from Millboro on for four years without running for reelection, Byrd said, “I may not be right, but I’m going to ague for it.”

But can a new board actually undo a new policy without giving it a chance to see if it is a benefit or not? Apparently they can.

I asked current chair Claire Collins, who had voted against the new staggered terms, if it was even likely that a new ordinance could be changed that quickly. She replied,

“If the Board wanted to have it placed on the agenda, it could be placed on the agenda for scheduling a public hearing early on in the first three months of the Board’s term, and then voted on, but it still would not impact the two of us, the Cedar Creek district or the Millboro District on the two years. What it would do would be after the two years of service we would, we would have to run again is my understanding.”

I asked Claire Collins why she had opposed the staggered terms.

“And the reason I did is because I felt like we have such a small county and that we were gonna end up with being difficult to find candidates to run for offices, and of course this past election has been a prime example of the number of unopposed positions, and trying to reach out to the community, and trying to find candidates for offices, people that want to take that extra time from their schedules to actually serve the community outside of what they already do.”

Will staggered terms really make residents less likely to run? What is it that will encourage local citizens to run for office regardless? If you have an opinion you’d like to share, visit news page and this story.


Story By

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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