WINCHESTER — David Stegmaier, 72, once the director of community outreach for former Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-10th, recently announced he is running for the at-large position on the Frederick County School Board.
Stegmaier is running against Brian Hester, a commercial lender at BB&T Bank, for the seat, which is being vacated by current at-large member of the School Board John Lamanna. Lamanna is leaving the School Board to run for the chairman position on the Frederick County Board of Supervisors.
Stegmaier, now retired, was a representative in the state legislature in Hawaii for 12 years, working as the chair of the House Education Committee for four years during the mid 1990s.
He also has one grandchild, who will attend Stonewall Elementary School in the fall.
“I have a passion for education,” Stegmaier said, who has lived in the area for 12 years. “I think it is the most important and effective way for us to be a land of opportunity, and we need to use education to give young people an opportunity to overcome disadvantages.”
A key point of Stegmaier’s campaign is to maintain the values of the Shenandoah Valley — specifically family, faith and community — and not let ideas from Richmond or Washington, D.C., influence Frederick County.
“We have a role to play in maintaining community and reaching out to those in need,” he said. “We’re constantly faced with this leveraging of funds — sort of a mandating of ideas and values that may not be what we want to prioritize but the money is with them and so they leverage that to get our compliance.”
Stegmaier said one of the initiatives state and federal governments are pushing is standardized testing. “Because we’re so tied up in the mandates from D.C. and Richmond, we are hesitant to resist the constant effort that continues to be made to have us test our students,” Stegmaier said. “There has to be a balance.”
Stegmaier has worked on the board of the Highland Food Pantry for several years and continues to serve on the board of Shenandoah Valley Community Residences, which provides shelter and care for those who are intellectually disabled. For the past 19 years, he said he and his wife have also taken care of his sister, who has schizophrenia.
If elected to the School Board, Stegmaier wants to work toward hiring more school resource officers and improving school security technology. He wants to strengthen Career and Technical Education programs in the county and expand apprenticeship programs within the schools.
Stegmaier also wants to make sure counselors obtain specialized training to respond to drug abuse among students. He’s concerned that marijuana legalization supported by some legislators at the state and federal level will be “terribly counterproductive” to area school systems because of how damaging the drug is to teens’ brains, he said.