STUART, Va. — A decision by a member of the Patrick County School Board not to seek re-election has opened the door for a new candidate to represent its Dan River District serving the Ararat and Claudville areas.
Brandon Simmons was the only person to file for that office by a deadline last week.
Simmons’ entry came on the heels of an announcement by Kandy Marshall Burnett, the vice chair of the school board, that she would not be running for her second term as Dan River District member.
Burnett pleaded guilty to a driving while impaired violation last November in Surry District Court, which had been issued in Mount Airy in February 2016.
The decision by Burnett opened the door for Simmons to seek the Dan River District seat, which he will fill barring any unusual circumstance such as a write-in campaign for the county election in November.
“I thought about it for a long time,” said Simmons, 34, who operates a business in Ararat, Dan River Grocery. And when Burnett decided to step aside, he obtained a candidate packet from the county registrar’s office in Stuart and started collecting petition signatures, a requirement for running.
Simmons added Tuesday he had been advised that serving on the school board might prove detrimental to his business, based on the stands elected officials sometimes take.
“That’s true, but these people in the Dan River District, they help me make a living,” Simmons said in opting instead to take the view that it offered a way to help folks in his community.
Another reason for wanting to be on the school board hits closer to home. “I have two kids, they’re not in the school system yet, but they will be in a couple of years,” Simmons explained. “I’m from Patrick County, I’ve lived here all my life.”
As a person who grew up in the county and went through its school system, Simmons said his main goal is to help children get a good education.
This involves ensuring the tools and supplies are on hand at each campus to accomplish this.
“Also, we need to make sure teachers are happy,” Simmons said of what he considers a prerequisite for the educational system to succeed. They aren’t in that profession for the money, he believes.
“They are there because they want to teach — they want to make a difference,” Simmons said.
“That’s one thing I’m really going to work on,” he said of supporting teachers and allowing them to enjoy their work, while also meeting the educational expectations of the citizens.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.