School Board members got their first look at the crop of potential replacements for Glen Sturtevant's vacant 1st district seat in the Near West End at Tuesday night's meeting. Each of the 10 applicants fielded an identical set of questions from board members, and offered short responses. Below are snapshots of each candidate.
Dawson Boyer – A real estate agent whose family owns an ice cream shop that survived in spite of starting amid the 2008 recession. He’s been involved with the Tee Jay Vikings Fund, which has raised money for improvements at Thomas Jefferson High. If appointed, he says he would run to keep the seat in November.
Deborah Corliss – She owns a construction and renovation business and is a former co-chairwoman of the Patrick Henry Charter School governing board. She says she wouldn’t run to fill the seat in November if appointed, because it would be an “unfair advantage” in the election.
Michael Dickinson – A strip club owner who has been trying to run for office locally for the last several years. He is currently running for Congress, but says he will end that campaign if selected for the position. “The reason I’m running is because I care. I have an unorthodox passion for helping children,” he says.
Elizabeth Doerr - A self-described young professional who served as a community organizer for President Barack Obama’s and Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s respective campaigns before joining the private sector. She says she would run in November, if appointed, but wouldn’t let her aspirations influence her choices as a board member for the remainder of the term.
Peggy Feldmann – A 26-year-veteran of the Navy who calls herself a “professional volunteer” for the school division. Her husband works at Broad Rock Elementary, and their two children attend RPS. She named facilities as her top priority. She said she hasn’t yet decided whether she would run in November if appointed.
Sonja Keeve – The self-described “parents' advocate” has a son with special needs enrolled at Albert Hill and a daughter who attends Open High. She has 14 years of administrative experience in the private sector, most recently for MeadWestVaco. “I want RPS to be the district of choice for all families,” she said.
Rupa Murthy – The president-elect of the Mary Munford PTA has two children enrolled in Richmond Public Schools. T.K. Somanath, the head of Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority, is her father. She says she’s applying because she wants to be engaged, and wants to help fix the problems plaguing city schools.
Matthew Percival – The information technology specialist told the board his son attends school with Glen Sturtevant’s son, sits at the same table as him, and shares the same name, too. Every time he’s been on the jury, he says, he’s been selected as a foreman. He said he plans to run in the November election, if selected for the position, but adds that he doesn’t have political aspirations.
Cody Sigmon – The 24-year-old College of William & Mary and Stanford graduate is an 8thgrade teacher in Chesterfield County who says he applied for a position with city schools, but never got a call back. He says he wants to be an advocate for underserved students.
Emily Turner – The former Richmond Public Schools teacher who left the district to go elsewhere, spoke to the importance of helping the division retain teachers. If appointed, she says she would run for re-election in November.
A public hearing to gather input is scheduled for Feb. 1. The board is scheduled to appoint a replacement on Feb. 8.