Why Stewart, why now?
Our Fluvanna school system has made great strides in the past five years. We have received full accreditation and have been recognized by several different organizations as “best in class.” Why? Because of good leadership. We have an opportunity to see our schools continue to be “best in class” by electing Shirley Stewart to represent the Rivanna District for the School Board on Nov. 7.

Why should Shirley be elected to represent the Rivanna District? That is a great question. It comes down to a combination of three things: a passion for education; proven leadership abilities and community involvement.

I met Shirley when she moved here from Vermont in 2011. We were both in the same Fluvanna Leadership Development Program class. We worked closely together and I got to know her very well. After graduation Shirley went on to serve on our steering committee and helped develop the curriculum for subsequent classes. Her insightful questions and willingness to roll up her sleeves and “get ‘er done” attitude was awesome. She has stayed involved in the community since, up to and including her entry into the School Board race.

Shirley has over 30 years of educational experience as a teacher, administrator and principal. She understands what makes “good bones” in a rural school system. She brings a proven track record in the educational field. Her innovative ideas and her keen understanding of the role of the School Board in setting direction and providing resources and developing policy will serve us well.

Finally, Shirley brings a life-long passion for education to the school system. Her work at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, helping to train the next generation of Virginia’s teachers, will serve our school system well as she brings a fresh perspective on current best practices in K-12 pedagogy as well as classroom and school management that our schools will benefit from.

Shirley Stewart is the most qualified candidate for Rivanna District School Board representative. Show up on Nov. 7 and “vote Stewart for schools.”

Rudy Garcia
Fork Union

Create candidate qualifications chart
I remember a candidate in the 2015 elections creating a simple chart to compare credentials among the candidates. Published in the Fluvanna Review in October of that year, I found that chart much more helpful than trying to plow through hundreds of words about each of the candidates to find out where they stand and why I should vote for them.

Of course, I think it would be even better if an unbiased observer like the Fluvanna Review, rather than the candidates themselves, did the same thing for the Columbia District School Board election. I’d like to know what qualifies each of the candidates for the position – their education, their experience, their connection to the public schools and how they are preparing to become a School Board member.

But I’d also like to be able to compare, side by side, where they stand on issues that are important to the schools. For example, whether they believe our schools have adequate resources to give our kids the best education? Do they think we should be doing something to retain good teachers? Should our tax dollars be going to support non-public schools? What can we do to stop bullying? Should there be teacher- or administrator-led prayer in the schools?

I think this would be particularly important for the Columbia District School Board position – though it would be good for all elective offices – because it seems one of the candidates has been pretty open about her credentials and her views, and one just hasn’t. To make an informed vote, I think we need to know more about both.

Paul Crowther
Palmyra Pullen not qualified
Fluvanna School Board candidate Andrew Pullen stopped by our house the other day to drop off a bit of campaign literature. He handed us a glossy card featuring a full-color photo of himself with his wife and daughter. The back was filled with text outlining Pullen’s qualifications. There weren’t many.

The first fact the card told us about the candidate is that he “… graduated a proud Fluco in 2004.” Funny thing, though. This campaign card said nothing about where Pullen’s daughter goes to school.

The main thing that caught my eye, however, was the text on the back. It included this sentence: “Each element of STEM effects every aspect of our lives.” Effects? Do we want a person who would write or approve that sentence leading our public system of education? It seems to me that a School Board candidate ought to stand as an educational role model and exhibit basic language skills. His carelessness with English may affect the ways in which Fluvanna children learn to speak, write and think.

Dennis Holder
Kents Store

Staiger gets things done
As a former colleague of Dr. Linda Staiger, I write to offer my enthusiastic support for her candidacy as a member of the Fluvanna School Board.

I spent many years working with Dr. Staiger in our orthopaedic clinic. We shared many patients, and I never heard a complaint about her care. She is a keen student of human nature, and took excellent care of her many grateful patients. She takes her work very seriously, and was often the only person willing to see patients on the same day that they called for an appointment. She gets things done! All of us who worked with her appreciated her thoughtful care of difficult problems.

After a very successful career, Linda has left medical practice and has spent some time nurturing her artistic skills. I know that she is ready for a new challenge, and I think that the School Board will be an excellent use of her caring intellect and interpersonal skills. I think that the Fluvanna voters have a chance to elect a real, quality person to this important position.
David M. Kahler, MD
University of Virginia

Stevens is hardest-working candidate
This Sunday afternoon, there was a knock on my door, and when I answered it there stood a smiling man neatly dressed in a white shirt and tie holding two Francis Stevens for Delegate campaign signs. It was the candidate himself, having driven all the way from Midlothian to Kents Store to deliver them after my online request. In our 30 years living in the 65th District, we have never once received the first piece of literature, news, mailing update or announcement of town hall from the incumbent, Lee Ware, from 1998 onward, nor from our previous delegate, Whatshisname.

It is definitely time for a change when a politician serving at the people’s pleasure for almost 20 years does not bother to keep them informed – or ask – about what issues are of importance.  Obviously, Francis Stevens cares. He shows it by having worked 12 years as a Virginia capitol police officer, by serving on the Fair Housing Board after being appointed by Gov. McDonnell, by attending St. Gabriel Catholic Church, by working to help other minority Asian Americans, by emphasizing the environment, healthcare, economic development and social justice as part of his platform. And by knocking on doors and meeting his hopefully soon-to-be constituents.

Vote Stevens Nov. 7!

Shirley Lavin
Kents Store

Pullen has been involved in county
Mr. Moss’s letter published last week is exactly why my family is supporting Andrew Pullen for School Board. The letter suggests that Mr. Pullen has “little to recommend him for the position” and that he has not been working to understand our school system. These statements couldn’t be further from the truth and are consistent with the last three letters attacking Mr. Pullen with falsities. 

There are several fundamental differences between the two candidates, but the one that stands out to my family is the fact that unlike his opponent, Mr. Pullen didn’t just start contributing to our community or attending meetings after he declared his candidacy. His community service along with having a daughter in our school system is what motivated him to run for School Board. Long before ever running for office, Mr. Pullen was coaching Little League baseball with me, teaching fire prevention in our schools, tutoring teenagers, attending School Board and Board of Supervisors meetings and many other contributions to our community. 

It’s true that Mr. Pullen did not attend an elite university and he does not have a Ph.D., but he continues to prove that the most educated person in the room is not always the smartest. As a Fluvanna graduate, he has found success in public safety and is an example of the importance of the Career and Technical Education programs that he promises to support. 

Contrary to Mr. Moss’s suggestions, Mr. Pullen can in fact claim that he has been taking this job seriously, but chooses not to use pictures with teachers or administrators for personal gain. Mr. Pullen is focused on policy, not politics and his campaign is a reflection of his personality – rather than boast about personal accomplishments, he finds fulfillment in humility and service to others. 

We have two sons in the school system and are enthusiastically supporting Andrew Pullen to represent the Columbia District on the School Board!

Matt Dickerson
Kents Store

Mammograms save lives
After reading Cheryl Elliott’s article, “Breast cancer diagnosis lands woman in hot water” last week, I felt the need to write.

I had my annual mammogram on Aug. 27 and it saved my life – please get yours done. Like Cheryl, I also have had dense breast issues all my adult life and had a lumpectomy when I was 20 which led to yearly mammograms for 38 years. I too have been called back many times for “abnormal” results. This was different. To complicate things I also happen to live with several autoimmune diseases. My battered and broken body has surpassed the limits I thought it had. I am one of the lucky ones. Early stage one, found during a routine mammogram, followed by more tests, six biopsies, many, many doctor appointments and finally two back-to-back surgeries (one due to a hematoma that developed) all within seven weeks. I learned that I had two tumors: one was the size of a quarter, the other was the size of a nickel, and a third area of concern was nothing.

I have followed doctors’ orders and am healing and back to work. I must credit the University of Virginia (U.Va.) imaging center and the U.Va. Breast Cancer Care Center for my wonderful care. Also my primary care physician, my rheumatologist, my dermatologist, my oncologist, labs and my entire team. I have been the receiver of a wonderful community of family and friends who have prayed and cried with me and for me, took care of me, and love me. I am surprised that when I look at myself in a mirror naked I am not horrified at all. I will carry my scar happily the rest of my life and be at peace with my choice. No chemotherapy, no radiation, no reconstruction. Five years of hormone therapy. But the best news ever...no risk of passing breast cancer to my daughter. Schedule your mammogram today.

Lynn Stayton-Eurell
Lake Monticello