The Mount Airy Board finds itself with three out of four incumbents retaining their seats. Phillip Thacker, an incumbent of District A, Kate Appler the district C incumbent and Wendy J. Carriker, the incumbent for District D, all will return after running unopposed.
The only new face on the board, Amy Bledsoe, campaigned for the District B seat, previously held by David Rowe and she was unopposed as well.
Bledsoe had 3,388 votes with all seven precincts in for 99.71 percent of the votes. The total of write-in votes was 10 for a total of 3,398 votes cast according to unofficial totals from the board of elections.
She is a graduate of the Mount Airy City School System. She teaches part-time at Surry Community College is also involved with real estate and construction. She appeared pleased at serving on the board.
“I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with such a great group of people,” said Bledsoe.
She has two children, Abby and Elly, who are also graduates of the Mount Airy School system. She admires the work of her predecessor, Rowe.
“I have such respect for David, his accomplishments have been outstanding,” added Bledsoe. “I hope to bring a fresh perspective to the board for students pre-K through graduates to prepare themselves for the future. I know we all are facing budget issues so we need to focus things where it will have the most impact.”
Wendy Carriker won with 99.31 percent or 3,305 votes. There was 23 write-in votes cast for a total of 3,328 votes.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve the children of Mount Airy,” said Wendy Carriker “While they don’t have a vote it’s because of them that we serve. It’s nice being with the choir (the board) that’s all together. We really are a group that respects each other’s opinions and the right to have our own opinions. That’s always nice to work with people who value your contribution.
Carriker, who is the current board chairman, has served on the board for 16 years. She was first elected in 1996. Carriker and her family moved to Mount Airy in 1984 from Gibsonville. She and her husband, Chip, have been married for 35 years. Their daughters are Melanie and Megan.
Carriker said she felt it was important to support the school system’s history of success in spite of economic pressures or outside issues the board was dealing with.
“We seem to stay on top in spite of this and that is something I am proud of,” said Carriker. “We are a non-partisan board. We strive to keep politics out of it. That has no business in our schools.”
Phillip Thacker finished with 3,231 votes or 99.66 percent of the votes with 11 write-in votes to bring the total to 3,242 votes cast.
“It’s a big reward to be with this board once again,” commented Phillip W. Thacker “This is a great school system with a good group to work with. The staff is great and we have a good group that communicates well together. It’s a good place to be. I appreciate the opportunity.” Thacker said the board will continue to work together to continue to improve on what we have and to continue to be one of the best school systems in the state.”
Thacker has 15 years of service on the board prior to his successful re-election bid this year, spanning three complete terms and part of a three-year term.
He is a Mount Airy native and a graduate of Mount Airy High School. He and his wife, Nancy, have a son, Jason, who is also a Mount Airy High School graduate. The couple’s daughter, Tara Thacker Hill, is a teacher in Guilford County.
Thacker’s focus on the board is to not rest on its accolades. He said he has enjoyed working with the other board members and the positive working relationship among the group and with the county board of commissioners, school staff and superintendent. He said he is proud of the renovations and upkeep of the city schools which was helped by the county commissioners and state lottery revenue.
“Being satisfied means you’re standing still,” said Thacker. “You must keep moving to keep being the best. I hope to help continue to improve. We have our major school renovations behind us now and I think we’ve been doing a good job spending the taxpayer’s dollars wisely. Business and industry’s support makes such a big difference.”
Appler finished the race with 3,331 votes or 99.34 percent. A total of 22 write-in votes were cast to make the total votes cast 3,353.
Appler served two terms on the board prior to re-election this year. She and her husband, Dr. Mark Appler, moved to Mount Airy 27 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pa., but were originally from the suburbs of Baltimore, Md. The couple’s sons are Hunter, Holden and Harrison.
She said the board has many initiatives to improve the system but two that are near and dear to her are trying to bring in foreign languages to earlier grades and options for returning band or an alternative music program to the high school.
“These initiatives are not going away because we don’t care. It’s funding levels,” said Appler. “The arts also have job opportunities even though people don’t typically think so. I’d like to see these programs strengthened and improved throughout the system.”
“Progress is not just a high school issue. You build on it from the lower levels up,” said Appler “We are constantly looking at improving things. That’s what we do.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.