HANOVER, Va. (WRIC) — More than 40 years since he was first named to the Hanover County School Board, Johnny Redd will return as the board’s Mechanicsville District representative.
In a 5-2 vote on Wednesday, Hanover’s Board of Supervisors picked Redd for the district’s seat on the School Board. Redd, who served on the board from 1980-1984, will begin his term July 1.
Before the vote, Ashland District’s Faye Pritchard spoke about the recent mass shooting in the town of Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school classroom, saying she “wept long and hard” Tuesday for the children who wouldn’t return home and their parents.
“I also wept on the phone with parents of trans children in Hanover County and parents of gay children in Hanover County,” Pritchard said. “I wept for their fear. I wept for their concern for their families.”
Pritchard added that she takes pride in voting her conscience over a specific political party or affiliation, saying that her vote against Redd was the first time she opposed a School Board pick.
“I have no doubt that Mr. Redd votes his conscience. I have no doubt that he’s a person of deep and abiding faith, as am I. But in his interview in the Times-Dispatch, he made it very clear that he cannot equally support all the children in our school. And our job is very simple but very difficult one,” she said. “We have to educate every child in this county and in order to do that we have to provide them with support and respect. And if I don’t believe a board member can do that, I cannot support him.”
Redd, a Hanover native and certified accountant, thanked the board and pledged not to disappoint the county after his selection. He also briefly addressed the concerns that Pritchard raised, saying he had talked with people in the audience and taken down email addresses.
“I have already spoken to people out here in the audience tonight about getting with them on this transgender issue. I am not what many have, pictured me as being some,” Redd said while raising his arms, “I don’t know what you want to call it, but being someone that’s not inclusive of all ideas. I am open to hear from them. I’ve already talked to them.”
“I’m just happy that we are getting beyond some of this turmoil and I hope we will be able to work together,” he added.
Hanover’s School Board did not adopt policies, as Virginia school divisions were required to under legislation passed by the state legislature, allowing students to use bathrooms and school facilities aligning with their gender identity.
The board, which is being sued by parents of transgender students for the decision, also voted to allow Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based group that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as an “anti-LGBTQ” hate group, to review the county’s school district’s policy.
“Trans people and gay people are not conservative people or liberal people or Republicans or Democrats,” Pritchard said during speech. “They are people born a particular way and a particular family. This is not a moral issue, but it is a moral issue to make sure that every child is cared for.”
Hanover’s Board of Supervisors Chair Angela Kelly-Wiecek joined Pritchard in opposition to Redd’s appointment.
The other candidates included the incumbent Sterling Daniel, Sarah G. Butler, Chris Cray, Paul Heizer, Ryan M. Hudson, Ryan Martin, Jerry E. McCormick Jr. and Kimberly Thurston.
Daniel was picked as the Mechanicsville representative on the school board in 2020 after Roger Bourassa, the board’s chairman who was serving the district, resigned in December 2019. Bourassa cited personal reasons when he left the seat nearly two years before his term was set to end.
W. Canova Peterson, the Mechanicsville District Supervisor, thanked Daniel and all of the nominees and applauded their willingness to serve on the board.
“So when it really came down to it I started looking at this, so who is the one person, I shouldn’t even say one person, others could do it too but I had to differentiate and come up with the one person from all the communications I got,” Peterson said before announcing Redd as his pick.
“And I’ve gotten hundreds of communications, emails, texts, phone calls that will represent the citizens of the Mechanicsville District.”
Peterson said he felt the board needed someone who had “concerns with the schools, had been in the schools, had kids in the schools” and also had “the business acumen to realize that there’s part of a group running a multi-million dollar business which is our schools.”
“So, it’s about the education and it’s about running the business,” Peterson said Wednesday night.