Madison Heights resident and former Amherst County Sheriff's Office Captain John Grieser is running for the county's District 1 school board seat.
Grieser, who worked in the sheriff's office nearly 14 years before stepping down in late January, has filed to run for the seat soon to be vacated by Chairman Mike Henderson, who has opted not to run for another term.
With an eye on an eventual career in local government, Grieser recently joined the Nelson County Sheriff's Office and works as a school resource officer at Tye River Elementary School.
"It's been a big change," said Grieser, a 1997 graduate of Amherst County High School, of his new role in Nelson. "I like working with kids. I appreciate the education system."
He said he likes how Amherst County Public Schools has made positive strides in its career and technical education offerings and getting students ready for the workforce when they leave high school.
"I plan to be an advocate," he said of joining the school board.
Grieser said he feels public service is important and he knows firsthand the influence educators have on children. A big part of what brought him back to Amherst was his positive experiences in the county's school system, he said.
A Virginia Tech graduate, Grieser also served in the Marine Corps. He has enjoyed the past several months serving as an SRO at Tye River Elementary not far from his home county.
"I had to bring my kickball game back," Grieser said. "I hadn't done that in a while."
He is taking online courses at Liberty University in pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
No other candidates have filed to run for the District 1 seat as of Tuesday's deadline. Grieser said he feels his background in law enforcement is an important factor he will bring to the board and he fully supports Sheriff E.W. Viar's efforts to expand the county's SRO program.
One of the key factors of a successful school system is ensuring students learn in a safe and secure environment and he is committed to helping ensure that continues, he said.
"I think it's a wonderful organization," Grieser said of Amherst County's school division. "They've had good leadership over the years. I just want to continue to be a part of that."
Incumbents Priscilla Liggon and Amanda Wright are running unopposed for their seats and will take part in their first elections. The county's school board transitioned from an appointed body to an elected one following a referendum passed in November 2016. The Nov. 5 election will mark the second cycle of school board elections.
Liggon, the board's vice chairwoman and District 4 representative, was first appointed by the board of supervisors in July 1999 and is the board's current longest-serving member.
Liggon said she is pleased and blessed to have the opportunity to run.
"I have enjoyed my years so far and I feel I have been a contributor to the mission of every child everyday," Liggon said, referring to the division's mission statement. "If elected, I will be a voice for the children and guardians in my district and in the county."
Wright, the District 2 representative, was appointed last November to fill a vacancy. Wright said she would like to continue focusing on the Alternative Suspension Center program, which was established this past semester and allows many students to serve out suspensions at the Amherst Education Center rather than being sent home. School officials have said the program has yielded positive results so far.
She also wants the division to continue making strides in its career and technical education program, she said.
"I believe opening other options for our students to pursue productive careers is vital," Wright said. "I want to work towards internship and early training opportunities in this vein, similar to the early college program through Central Virginia Community College."