Beato elected to local board
November 14, 2007
__Matt Beato and Ben Strahs tied with 3 votes, Strahs concedes__
Student Assembly Senator Matt Beato ’09 will represent the city of Williamsburg on the Colonial District Soil and Water Conservation Board.
p. Only one person ran for a position on the board in the general election last Tuesday, even though two people get spots. The second position came down to write-in votes, with Matt Beato ’09, Benjamin Strahs ’09 and Stephen Colbert all tying with three each. Both students said they were surprised to be considered for the position.
p. Colbert was immediately eliminated from the running, but the city had been planning on drawing lots from a hat Wednesday to break the tie between the two students, Christine Faia, secretary of the Williamsburg Electoral Board, said.
p. Strahs conceded to Beato Monday night, making the drawing unnecessary.
p. “He is the better candidate, but more importantly, he is planning on staying in Williamsburg long-term,” Strahs said.
p. The position on the board calls for a three-year term and was the only unpaid position on the ballot. Beato said that he has tentative plans to stay in Williamsburg for law school.
p. “If anyone knows anything about me, it’s that I will do this job to the absolute best of my ability,” Beato said. “I think residents of Williamsburg shouldn’t be concerned about this phenomenon. If anyone voted last Tuesday, they should have been ashamed that a ballot like that would ever be produced in the United States. Since literally every position was uncontested, no one — Democrat, Republican, retiree, student — had a choice at all, for any positions. I’m glad that people did write-ins to protest this.”
p. Gregory Hancock, an associate geology professor at the College, is the only person who ran for the position. He was appointed to the board a year ago to fill a vacancy, but this was his first time running.
p. “The goal of the soil and water board is to help promote responsible soil and water use as well as management techniques,” Hancock said. “We help municipalities make good decisions, and we also go out to farmers and help let them know best techniques. Recently we also started talking with homeowners, letting them know what they can do.”
p. The board is primarily an advisory committee, Hancock said, but it also has some regulatory capacity and funding from municipalities and the state to promote responsible soil and water practices.
p. Hancock also said he had no problem serving on the board.
“Just like anybody else … if the [students are] genuinely interested in the issues, and they know what the board is supposed to do, then it’s great,” he said. “I don’t see any difference between students and non-students.”
p. Hancock added that technical expertise in geology was not necessary for board membership.
p. “Most people on the board don’t [have technical expertise],” he said. “The board oversees activities of conservation activities and decides how to spend money. A student doesn’t need technical experience, just a desire to learn things and to figure out what the board needs to accomplish.”