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By John Barnhart and Tom Wilmoth
It appears, as of press time, that Bedford County’s elections for board of supervisors and school board will be uncontested.
County Registrar Barbara Gunter said, as of Monday, Curry Martin, John Sharp and Steve Wilkerson have qualified to be on the ballot to run for the District 2, District 3 and District 4 supervisors’ seats. Martin was chosen by the board of supervisors to fill the District 2 seat after Chuck Neudorfer abruptly resigned last fall. Sharp is the incumbent District 4 supervisor.
Wilkerson threw his hat in the ring after incumbent District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek announced that he would not seek another term. All three men are running as Republicans.
Dr. John Hicks, Gary Hostutler and Jason Johnson have qualified to be on the ballot for the District 3, District 4 and District 2 school board seats. All three are incumbents. School board candidates are required by state law to run as independents.
It appears that none of these candidates will have challengers. The deadline to file paperwork to get on the ballot was Tuesday at 5 p.m. and Gunter said that nobody else has come in to ask for forms.
Announcements this week came from both Hostutler and Johnson.
Hostutler currently serves as school board chairman, the District 4 representative.
In announcing his reelection bid for a third term on the Bedford County School Board, Hostutler said he is proud of what the school division has accomplished the last eight years.
“But we have a long way to go to be a first rate school system that will draw businesses to Bedford County, stabilize property values and provide a strong education programs for our students,” Hostutler said. “Providing a basic high school education is not good enough in today’s global economy and we must prepare our students with advanced technology and hands-on training while recruiting and retaining excellent teachers and support staff to move the division forward.”
Hostutler has served as the representative of the Forest district since 2006.
“In the next four years, we will undergo several construction projects including a new middle school in the Liberty zone and additions to Forest Middle School and Bedford Elementary,” he said. “Providing school buildings that are safe, have natural light, good air quality and acoustics are an important element of education while providing the proper instruction and tools within the classroom. Investing in technology will help provide our students with the skills that they need whether they go on to college or enter the workforce.”
He said other schools in the region, state and nation offer stronger programs than Bedford County. “While we do well with what we have we clearly are not providing the level of education that many of our students need to excel in the future,” he said.
Hostutler has lived in Forest since 2000 and is a Controller at GeorgiaPacific. He has a BA from Mount Union College and an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Johnson will be seeking his first full, four-year term on the Bedford County School Board.
“Representing my neighbors throughout District 2 on the school board these past six months has been the honor of my life,” Johnson stated. “I hope they will allow me the opportunity to continue representing them.”
Johnson stated that while his service has been brief—he was elected to serve the remainder of a term left vacant after Dave Vaden’s resignation—he has “thoroughly enjoyed working with both my colleagues on the school board and our counterparts on the board of supervisors.”
“Together, I believe we have taken some very positive steps forward in creating the kind of school system Bedford County’s students need if they are to be prepared for the challenges that await them after graduation,” Johnson said.
He is proud of the budget the board passed last month, noting its investments in security and technology, as well as a pay raise for the school system’s employees--all without requiring a tax increase on Bedford County residents.
“We have also taken steps to increase community investment in our schools, from laying the foundation for a middle school mentorship program and placing community representatives on the panel that interviewed applications for the principal’s position at Body Camp Elementary School, to reaffirming our commitment to business partnerships with Moneta Elementary School,” he said. “These are the first steps in a great journey, yet much work remains to be done. I want to continue being a voice for fiscal responsibility, academic excellence and community cooperation in education. Together, we can create a culture of education in Bedford County and I relish the opportunity to continue working toward that goal.”