Citizens should have a voice

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

“The board has spoken! The board’s decision is FINAL! We are not going to change our vote.” And “You can participate by listening.”

These two gems can be attributed to our Isle of Wight County School Board members at last week’s public meeting. These declarations were made (and recorded) by Mr. Michael Vines and Chair Denise Tynes last Wednesday. These statements were made after Mr. John Collick made a motion to allow public comments at the meeting. The motion was not seconded, and did not get approved.

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At the end of the meeting, Mr. Vines made a motion to allow public comments. It was approved unanimously. I still don’t understand why the same motion made by Mr. Collick received no consideration, yet Mr. Vine’s was unanimously approved. I’m just thankful that the public did at least get an opportunity to voice their thoughts.

Most of the public comments were centered around parents wanting to follow the new Executive Order for allowing parents to make their own decision about their kids wearing masks. The discussion around unisex bathrooms was remarkably benign.

However, this letter to the editor isn’t about masks; it is about our democracy. Our democracy is built on the idea that our elected officials represent our voice. Our School Board seems to be making a concerted effort to stifle parents. When the people lose their voice and feel like their interests are not being represented, our entire system of government is at stake.

This is happening at every level of government. Our foreign enemies would like nothing better than to destabilize democracy. It starts at the local level. Get involved. Get engaged. Be heard.

In November, two of the current School Board members are up for election. Mr. Vines of District 3 (Windsor) and Ms. Renee Dial of District 4 (Newport) will encounter their first election, as they are currently appointed. I can’t stress enough the importance of our citizens’ need to get involved.

If you are passionate about our schools and our kids’ futures, get on the ballot. If you can’t run, support someone who will. Attend meetings. Make our School Board listen to you and represent your interests. Pay attention to what is happening in our schools.

P.S. The above quotes can be found at around 7 minutes and 2:28. Watch it. It will encourage you to get engaged, I promise.


Renee Bevan