By JULIE E. GREENE
8:11 PM EST, December 4, 2012
The four newly elected Washington County Board of Education members thanked their families and supporters Tuesday after being sworn-in to start their four-year terms.
Approximately 65 people attended the swearing-in ceremony at the school board’s administrative offices off Commonwealth Avenue.
“I take the responsibility of this office and the public’s trust very, very seriously,” said Melissa Williams, the only political newcomer elected to the board last month.
“There are challenges ahead and I’m ready and eager to take my place at the table with the other six board members to begin the important work ahead of us,” Williams said.
The board has seven members, but the elections are staggered.
At the start of the board’s Dec. 11 business meeting, the members will vote to determine who will be the board’s president and vice president. Members usually discuss that issue in closed session before the public business meeting.
Re-elected last month were board members Donna Brightman, Justin Hartings and Wayne Ridenour.
Ridenour carried his great-niece, Ella Rowland, 2, to the podium. Ridenour said he brought Ella to remind him both to keep his speech short and why he likes to be involved in the school board.
“It’s all about kids. Everything that we do, as a group, is about the children,” he said.
Ridenour said his family helped him through a difficult year. Asked later what he meant, he explained that his mother-in-law and brother-in-law had died in the past year.
Board member Donna Brightman said she is often asked why she wants to serve on the school board.
“My immediate response has always been that the commitment has repaid me many times over. When I reflect on all the friendships made and trusts built, one person and one issue at a time over the last 5 1/2 years, I’m reminded that I have received much more than I have given,” Brightman said.
The four newly elected board members were each accompanied by his or her spouse as they were sworn-in.
Board member Justin Hartings also was accompanied by his three children — Ben, 13; Josie, 11; and Ellie, 8.
Among those Hartings thanked was Travis Poole, a local attorney who ran for school board this year.
“We would not have had a campaign if Travis Poole had not filed and run. I think that campaigns make better candidates, and campaigns make better elected officials,” Hartings said.
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