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Vinton School District Race Heats Up

Vinton School Board  Candidate Jason Peter
Vinton School Board Candidate Jason Peter

The Vinton District representative on the Roanoke County School Board, Mike Stovall, has some opposition this November as he runs for a fourth term. In fact Stovall, who runs a driving school in Vinton, has two opponents for the slot. Russell Wise announced his plan to run some time ago and Jason Peters, a financial planner, made public his intentions to challenge Stovall at a news conference last week.

A financial planning specialist for First Citizen’s Bank, Peters (33 years old) has a degree of visibility within the Vinton area as co-chair of the Vinton Vision Committee. That group is raising money for a monument being built to honor those from Vinton and the Roanoke Valley who have fallen in combat over the years. It will stand outside the renovated/expanded Vinton War Memorial community center.

His wife Candye is also involved with the monument campaign, which still has to raise about $100,000 towards a goal of about $400,000. The couple has seven children, including an infant. Candye Hughes said the fundraising campaign was “going great,” although she still had 600 bricks to sell at $150 each as of last week.

Jason Peters has spent 17 years with the Vinton First Aid Squad, where he has been involved with the Needy Family Program that delivers food and gifts to the less fortunate every Christmas season. He touted that and his participation with the War Memorial project. “I’m directly serving the children in our community,” said Peters, also citing a need to “teach our children to look outside of themselves,” by getting involved in their community.

Several times during brief remarks outside the renovated Vinton War Memorial, Peters talked about the need to create “a relationship of open communication,” as a school board member, and about the desire to create a vision.  Handling conflicts “in a tactful way,” is another goal for Peters, something Stovall has been accused of not doing in the past.

Peters mentioned the controversy over moving Vinton’s Roland E. Cook alternative school students to Cave Spring High School (now delayed) as an issue that Stovall might have handled differently. “I will be involved;  I will attend [public] meetings,” he vowed.

Former Mount Pleasant Civic League president Mike Roop, on hand for the Peters announcement, said some people in his end of the Vinton District are upset that it took so long to get renovations at the elementary school there off the ground, four years after the original promised start date. The Civic League will hold a “meet the candidates” night on October 1, at 7 p.m., most likely at the school added Roop.

“I feel like there are issues that haven’t been resolved,” said Peters from the podium, adding that he wanted to “build a better relationship with parents…it is time for new leadership in our district, someone who will represent the entire district.” With construction also underway at William Byrd High School (new classrooms, a gym, updated HVAC, etc.) there are several concerns on the table.

Peters said he had no “personal issue,” with Stovall, adding however, that the long time, hard-driving incumbent, “hasn’t been open to the community. That’s really the only issue I’ve had with Mike. I’d like to get more involved in the leadership of the schools.” His financial background should come in handy, added Peters, with Governor Tim Kaine hinting at more education cuts in the next General Assembly session. “It’s going to be tough.”

By Gene Marrano
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