Candidates announce plans to pursue local, state offices

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FINCASTLE – Jack Leffel will run for the Fincastle District seat on the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors he said in an announcement this week.

He will run as an Independent.

Jack Leffel
Jack Leffel

Leffel said he is not seeking re-election to a fourth term on the School Board because he wants the county government to maintain the vision that’s made it one of the best run and managed counties in Virginia.

“I want to keep Botetourt as attractive as it is now, and we can do that with prudent management of our financial resources,” he added.

“I already know how to handle public money,” he said in his announcement, noting that the School Board began cutting spending before the recent budget challenges. “We cut $4 million before anyone else,” Leffel said.

Leffel said he feels he can represent the Fincastle District on the Board of Supervisors the same way he has on the School Board. He said he has been accessible to the public and addressed concerns they had while at the same time helping advance priorities he had as a board member.

“Botetourt schools are recognized as some of the best in Virginia,” he said. Examples are Cloverdale Elementary, which is the only school in the state that has received the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence for three consecutive years; and James River High School just earned its third state championship in creative writing.

“I want to bring the same enthusiasm I’ve have for the schools to the county as a whole,” Leffel continued.

Among the accomplishments he cited as a School Board member are “the advancements we’ve made in instruction, the quality of new hires (teachers) and the way we’ve fiscally handled the money the Board of Supervisors appropriates to the school division. We’ve been pretty responsible with tax dollars, I think.”

While on the School Board, Leffel said the school division has worked diligently to reduce energy costs in all of the schools, improved bus routes to save fuel and worked in conjunction with the supervisors to consolidate vehicle maintenance.

“We’ve tried to save money wherever we could so more dollars go directly to educating our children,” he said.

Leffel said he already has some familiarity with county budgeting and knowledge of facilities and capital projects.

He said the School Board worked with the county to establish a school capital improvement plan and a fund to set aside money for big projects.

He’s been through work on school facilities such as the roof replacement plan that he initiated when there were challenges with Eagle Rock Elementary’s roof not long after he went on the School Board.

He also was instrumental in planning for the renovations and additions at James River High School.

Leffel also proposed the employee re-evaluation program that he said changed and improved the school division’s hiring process and personnel policy. That plan has been a blueprint for other school divisions, he said, and he’s now involved in updating that plan.

Leffel said he’s running because “we need to get the civility back.”

“People might ask, ‘Are you pro-public education?’ Yes, I believe in public school systems, and we have to have a good one if our children are going to succeed in today’s world. I’m also pro-public safety,” Leffel said.

He said he is familiar with the county’s recreation program since he has served as the School Board liaison to the Recreation Advisory Commission.

Leffel said he believes he can be helpful in assuring that road issues in the Fincastle Election District get addressed, too. “We’ve spent millions of dollars on road issues in the southern part of the county over the last 20 years, and that needed to be done. But most of those secondary road problems have been addressed,” he said. “Now, we need to be sure that planning for challenges we have in the northern part of the county are attended to.”

Leffel continues to farm near Eagle Rock. He is a county native who graduated from James River High School. He attended Virginia Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in dairy science and did graduate work in biochemistry and nutrition.

His wife, Mary Lynne, retired after teaching more than 30 years in Botetourt schools. They have three grown daughters.