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Two incumbents and three newcomers were elected Tuesday to the Albemarle County School Board. Five of seven seats on the board were on the ballot.
Jonno Alcaro won a three-way race for the open at-large seat, defeating Catherine Lochner and Dolly Joseph. Alcaro took 50 percent of the vote while Lochner and Joseph took 27 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
In the Samuel Miller District, Graham Paige dominated in a three-way race defeating Mike Basile and Brian Vanyo. Paige took 62 percent of the vote while Basile and Vanyo took 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The contest was a special election brought on by the early departure of board member Eric Strucko. Paige will start his service later this month to fill out the remainder of Strucko’s term, which runs through December 2017.
In the White Hall District, Dave Oberg defeated C.J. Hatcher, 56 percent to 44 percent. Incumbent Barbara Massie Mouly announced in May she would not seek re-election after representing the district for 12 years.
Before winning his first election in 2011, Buyaki was appointed earlier that year to complete the term of Ronnie Price, who resigned when he moved out of the area.
Koleszar was first elected in 1996 and he is the longest-serving member of the current board.
Among the newcomers, Alcaro is a resident of western Albemarle and is co-owner of Meritage Financial Solutions. He said he is looking forward to reviewing the division’s existing programs in more detail.
“I want to get in and get to work,” Alcaro said. “The most important thing is going to be the review of programs instituted over the past six to eight years. We need to review those programs and see what needs more funding and what needs less.”
Alcaro said he would support a general obligation bond referendum to be placed on the ballot next November.
“We need to let the public decide what to do about the capacity needs for the schools based upon the capital improvement budget,” Alcaro said.
Paige, an Esmont resident who taught in Albemarle’s schools for 25 years, will be the board’s first African-American member since Price left the board in early 2011. Paige has called for parity in the school division in both facilities and programs.
“Renovation and modernization has not occurred in some of the schools that really need it because of funds being diverted to other areas,” Paige said. “I am going to do my very best to represent the district to the best of my ability and make sure we serve all the kids of Albemarle.”
“The campaign was pretty tough,” Paige added. “We did a lot of canvassing door to door and lots of meetings [with voters]. It was pretty strenuous.”
Oberg, a Crozet resident and partner with the law firm Jones, Oberg & Green, previously worked for the Virginia Education Association supporting teachers in Albemarle County.
He says the decline in the state’s investment in local education needs to be addressed.
“The reality is that state and federal funding keeps going down, and it’s going down faster than the local expenses are going up,” Oberg said. “We need to make sure that the state and the federal government are meeting the mandates that they put forth.”
“The federal government is for the first time in eight years acknowledging that standardized tests have gotten out of hand,” Oberg said. “As a School Board, we need to ensure that we follow through with that to reduce the level of stress on our students and teachers.”
Oberg said he had a very positive experience campaigning and believes the Crozet community and the rest of the White Hall District really got engaged in the race.
“I really appreciate all the people that supported me and all the candidates that ran,” he said. “I think C.J. Hatcher is great, I think very highly of her.”