Johnson responds to residency questions

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Says he is, and has been a county resident

By Tom Wilmoth

    Since voting to reassign Dr. Cherie Whitehurst from deputy superintendent to instructional coach, District 2 School Board member Jason Johnson’s residency status has come under fire by some supporting Dr. Whitehurst.
    Among those questioning his residency has been Beck Stanley, who wrote an op-ed commentary to the Bulletin this week. “Jason (Johnson) is exhibiting blind faith in Doug Schuch, the kind of blind faith that allows a man to do things he never thought he could or would,” stated Stanley about Johnson. Stanley used the first part of his commentary criticizing Dr. Douglas Schuch, superintendent of Bedford County Public Schools.
    “Jason Johnson has dissolved what little trust this community held in him by choosing to apply shaky logic to the question of   his residency,” added Stanley, after stating that the District 2 board member teaches full-time at Virginia Tech and lives in Blacksburg in an apartment there during the week.
    Johnson defended his residency status in Bedford County and his service while being on the school board.
    “My roots run deep in the red clay soil of the Southside, as our family’s earliest ancestors came to Bedford County around the time of the American Revolution,” he stated. “Like my parents and generations before them, I am a product of the Bedford County Public School System, attending Moneta Elementary, Staunton River Middle School, and Staunton River High School, from which I was graduated in 2001.  The only child of a tightly-knit family, I grew up in the Moneta-area house my parents purchased when I was just 1 year old.”
    Johnson stated this is the only home he has ever known. “I love it dearly,” he stated. “I grew up in this house, I have always lived in this house, and I plan to continue living in this house for the duration of my time on this good earth.”
    Johnson said he has been registered to vote in Bedford County since he turned 18. “I pay taxes to Bedford County, and from insurance to groceries, I conduct most of my business in Bedford County.  It was this dedication to Bedford County that inspired me to run for the School Board in the first place as I want our county’s students to have all of the educational opportunities that my students at Virginia Tech had while growing up in other parts of our Commonwealth,” he stated.
    Johnson said it is impossible to make  informed decisions as a school board member when you’re not aware of what actually occurs in our schools. “I visit our schools regularly,” he said. “My job requires me to work out of town, yet I’m still a familiar face to faculty, staff and students alike throughout the Southside.  I’ve lost count of just how many classrooms I’ve visited, athletic events, plays, art shows, musical performances, club/booster banquets, practices, graduations, conventions, fundraisers, and PTA carnivals I’ve attended during my nearly six years on the School Board.”
    Johnson said that dedication to being a familiar face in the schools and their activities is not going to change. “My primary concern has always been and always will be ‘What will best prepare the children of Bedford County to succeed in the world they will inherit from us?’” he said. “In Bedford County, we have a great team that’s doing exciting work for our students; I’m honored to be a part of this noble work.”
    Bedford County Registrar Barbara Gunter said her office has received some phone calls and visits from those asking about Johnson’s residency status. When he filed to run for office, she said Johnson had to provide proof of that residency and confirmation that he was a registered voter.
    Gunter said any challenges to his residency now would have to be filed through the clerk of the school board or in circuit court.