Bermuda candidates face off at Chester forum

Dorothy Jaeckle and Mark Fausz – the two candidates for the Bermuda District seat on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors – weren’t the only two engaged in a public debate last Monday evening at Thomas Dale High School. School Board candidates for the Bermuda District Stella Edwards and Carrie Coyner also addressed school- and county-related issues during the forum.

Contending for the soon-to-be-vacant seat of the retiring Marshall Trammell, Edwards and Coyner actually expressed similar viewpoints: both felt there was no sense in raising taxes to benefit schools and standardized testing wasn’t helping students develop real world skills – like critical thinking.

Also, both felt teachers in Chesterfield County Public Schools were unjustifiably underpaid.

However, their views contrasted on reducing the “friction” between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.

“I think one of the problems we have faced are folks in position who have forgotten what it’s like to listen, and have forgotten what it’s like to be able to say, ‘I don’t have all the answers,’ ” Coyner said.

Edwards felt an external party, a moderator, could facilitate better relations among the two boards.  

She felt her experience in government and education made her a more suitable candidate over Coyner.  

“I know about policy issues, and I know a lot about who decides them. I’ve spent years working with a wide array of policy makers on local, state, and national levels to advance the cause of our public education,” Edwards said. “Again this is significant difference between me and my opponent.”

Coyner felt her experience in using “business-minded solutions” made her a better fit for the Bermuda School Board seat.

The public debate between candidates Mark Fausz and Dorothy Jaeckle then followed.

Fausz, the co-owner of the Village News, felt Bermuda residents should vote for him – and not Jaeckle, the incumbent – because he said he would represent all citizens of the district, and not just “an elite few.”

“I’ll seek input before making decisions. I won’t make a decision, like providing money to SportsQuest or to electric message centers in Chester before listening to constituents,” Fausz said. “My opponent tries to explain votes after she makes them.”

Jaeckle said she had made decisions in the past because they best reflected the views of her constituents. To “maintain a high-quality” community, Jaeckle said she does so by spending time with Bermuda District residents.

Toward the end of the forum, a question from the audience was asked to the candidates. It asked how each candidate, if elected, would “mend” the negativity that surrounded their individual campaigns that have occurred in recent months.

“I don’t feel I have run a negative campaign …,” she said. “And I know that I’m not perfect and I know that I’m not going to please everybody all the time – that’s just not possible.”

Fausz said if he were satisfied with Jaeckle’s “record,” he would not be running against her.

The opportunity for the community to vote for candidates is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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