While Tuesday's races for two of the three seats for Warren County School Board will be uncontested, one seat has write-in contenders.
Three people are running as write-ins for the South River District seat now held by Donna McEathron. McEathron will not be seeking reelection.
Kristen J. Pence, 38, of Front Royal, is seeking public office for the first time. Pence works as a veterinarian at Warren County Veterinary Clinic.
Pence said in August she wanted to run for School Board because she wanted to have an active part in understanding the needs of the county's public schools and ensure their success.
“As a graduate of Warren County High School and lifelong resident of Warren County, I have a vested interest in both our public school system and our community,” she said.
“Our school system should be the most important focus of this community, and it deserves support from everyone.”
Pence has participated in school division projects, including buying new playground equipment for E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School and hygiene supplies for Warren County elementary and middle schools.
“I want my daughter and all of the children in this community to graduate from Warren County Public Schools with an education that prepares them for a successful future, whether that means joining the workforce, military, or attending college,” she said.
Pence said one of the issues facing the School Board is selecting a new school superintendent after Superintendent Greg Drescher retires in January.
“The hiring of a school superintendent is the most important task a School Board performs,” she said. “The search needs to be wide, and the application process needs to be comprehensive. The School Board will need to keep the community informed as the process moves forward.”
David Downes, 57, of Front Royal, has practiced law in Warren County for 32 years. He said he wanted to run for the School Board seat because he wants the best for the children of Warren County Public Schools.
“I want to devote my skills toward solving problems affecting our schools,” he stated in a release. “I will not hesitate to ask the hard questions when seeking funding for our schools, will expect everyone's best as we work together to support teachers and administrators and will be insistent on accountability at all levels of our school system.”
Downes noted that he feels the biggest challenges facing the School Board are finding a new superintendent to replace Drescher, retaining high-quality teachers, improving the quality of education for students, and providing a safe and secure educational environment.
“By strengthening our schools, we will increase pride in Warren County,” he stated.
“These aspirational goals can be accomplished through hard work, cooperation, transparency, and tenacity. I believe we can accomplish these goals by creating an environment where everyone - the school board, Superintendent, school administrators and staff, our students, and community - work together to strengthen and improve our schools.”
The third contender for the South River District seat is Tim Ratigan of Front Royal. Ratigan did not respond to a request for comment on his candidacy.
Ralph Rinaldi, of Front Royal, is running unopposed for the Shenandoah District seat on the Warren County School Board. The seat is held by Douglas Rosen, who is not running for reelection.
Rinaldi, who has served on the Warren County Planning Commission since 2014, said in July he was running for School Board because he wanted to use his teaching/coaching, business, and community service experience to help the school system move upward.
“Great schools have a direct impact on our community,” he said.
Rinaldi taught physical education and coached football at Fairfax County Public Schools for three years. After retiring in 2005, he went back to teaching and coaching football at Fauquier County Public Schools until 2013.
Rinaldi said that he believes that teacher retention is the district’s greatest challenge.
“We need to add to our current plan to make teaching more attractive,” he said. “Great teachers will make great schools. Our students deserve no less.”
Arnold Williams Jr., 53, of Middletown, is running unopposed for reelection to the North River District seat on the School Board. Williams, a retired business owner in Warren County, is seeking his second term.
“I'm running for reelection because I want to continue to give back to my community that has given to me over the past 50-plus years,” Williams said in July.
Williams said that he and the School Board want to continue to help prepare the division's students for the future.
“The biggest opportunity we face is, just like many other communities, we must produce educated and productive members of society,” he said. “The fix is to retain effective teachers and have the buy-in from all involved to reach this goal.”