Diantha McKeel with supporters
One of the two independents running for the open Jack Jouett District seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors has formed an advisory group to help inform her campaign.
“The Common Ground Council will be a broad-based, non-partisan community of experts whose alliance and allegiance is [intended] to make Albemarle County the best in America to live,” Diantha McKeel said at a news conference Monday.
McKeel is seeking election to the Board of Supervisors while she completes her fourth term on the county’s School Board.
Her opponent in the Nov. 5 general election is Boyce Phillip Seay, an independent who entered the race on June 11, the last day possible to
get on the ballot.
Seay is the executive director of The First Tee of Charlottesville, a golf-mentoring program.
McKeel said her group is intended to be a forum to get a variety of opinions on education, growth and other issues facing the county. While she already has a list of several members, she wants more people to consider joining to help build consensus.
“It’s imperative that Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia pursue opportunities to enhance their relationships,”
McKeel said. “It’s my hope that the council will have ideas about how I can maximize the resources that each of these localities has to contribute.”
For instance, McKeel said she wants to study how the University Transit System and Charlottesville could work together to better serve the community.
Current members of McKeel’s council include former planning commissioners Jon Cannon and Bill Edgerton; Ann Rooker, the wife of Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker; former Albemarle School Board Chairman Gordon Walker; and City Councilor Kathy Galvin.
Galvin said she joined the group because she wants the opportunity to bring the city’s perspective to county elections.
“We are one community and we have a golden opportunity with both Comprehensive Plans scheduled for adoption this year,” Galvin said. She added that she wants the council to look at specific issues where the city and county can work together.
Galvin made the transition from the city School Board to higher office when she was elected as a councilor in 2011. She said serving on a school board is good preparation for the job.
“What I loved about the School Board was a sense of collegiality and shared purpose,” Galvin said. “I think Diantha and I really want to see much more collaboration again between city and the county on all levels.”
The last School Board member to ascend to the Board of Supervisors was Republican Kenneth C. Boyd.
“Being on the School Board certainly makes you more aware of educational issues, but supervisors must deal with a much more complex and diverse number of concerns,” Boyd said. “It is also important to not allow a built-up bias for schools to the detriment of other departments in the county.”
McKeel said the School Board tends to act with a more consensus-based approach than does the Board of Supervisors, adding that some decisions get greater analysis before a decision is made.
“My leadership experience during my 16 years on the School Board and working with the Board of Supervisors has led me to realize that successful organizations make decisions based on addition and not division,” McKeel said.
Seay could not be reached for comment for this story.