DANVILLE — George Chafin said he brings with him integrity, honesty and a desire for transparency to the Boone County School Board in the June 9 primary election as he challenges District 3 incumbent Susan Kimbler.
“I think that in recent years we’ve had some issues that have brought some negative attention to our school system, and I’d like to be a part of changing that,” he said. “Our school system should be a reflection of our community at all times.”
Chafin cited litigation that began in 2017, when teachers unions filed two lawsuits against Boone County Schools in the wake of pay and benefits cuts made to balance the budget.
This came immediately after the BCS board voted to eliminate the equivalent of 58 positions for the next school year. Previously, in July 2016, the school board voted to cut nearly 600 employees’ pay and benefits, along with trimming jobs, to avoid a takeover threatened by the West Virginia Department of Education. Last month, teachers and service workers were scheduled to receive payments as a result of the suit.
Chafin, who expressed that he is “pro-teachers,” said the situation should have never gone to litigation.
“We shouldn’t be treating our teachers and service personnel this way,” he said. “It should have never come to this. It just isn’t a good look for our teachers to have to fight for what they earned in the first place.”
Chafin, who has spent much of his life serving his community as a firefighter and worked in the coal industry, said he has leaned on family values his entire life.
The son of the late Gilmer and Maude Chafin of Danville, he lost his mother when he was just 2 years old and, along with his brothers, was raised primarily by their father, who was a railroad employee. Chafin’s father remarried and had two more children.
Chafin, 65, graduated from Scott High, where he played football, baseball and tried his hand at basketball.
“Coach said I was a blocking dummy in basketball,” he said, laughing.
The Danville resident has been married for 44 years to his wife, Pam, and they have three children — Jennifer, Justin and Jason — and three grandchildren.
He started working right out of high school at Black’s Foodland, then he pumped gas at a local station. He worked for a short time at Danville Lumber, and then worked for nine years at Riverside Motors of Madison.
“I started at the bottom sweeping floors and washing cars and greasing cars and then I sold cars at the end,” he said. “Then I spent about 30 years in the coal mines.”
When that industry began stalling, Chafin saw his career wind to a halt in 2011.
“I was off for a year and I was at the courthouse paying my taxes and Jennings (Miller) was the assessor for Boone County then,” he said. “I said to him that the check in my hand was my last unemployment check. I said I wanted to pay my taxes. He said that a person had just retired and that I should fill out an application. I’ve been a data collector for seven years now and I really enjoy it.”
Chafin remains active as a basketball referee and a softball umpire. He also puts in time with the Danville Volunteer Fire Department, where his son Justin is the chief and his son Jason also serves.
“In 1972, I was officially allowed to join the fire department,” he said.
In terms of his campaign, Chafin said he was proud to receive an endorsement from UMWA COMPAC.
“That meant the world to me,” he said. “I don’t take that lightly. Also, my fire department family has been so good to me and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m one of the oldest now.”
Chafin has served over 25 years on the Danville Town Council and said he believes the experience in town government would serve him well on the Boone County School Board.
“I think that I’m learning how to work with people for the sake of getting things done, and that is a part of it,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do for the community and I take pride in it and take it seriously. We’ve had relationships that are good with the county and state. We are in a community that people want to live in. There is always room for improvement and I always keep that in mind.”
Chafin said if he wins the school board seat, he will have to resign his work as an umpire and referee. There simply wouldn’t be enough hours in the day for the commitment.
“When you cut teachers and service personnel and good people leave to work in other counties, that is a bad, bad thing,” he said. “I don’t want to close any of our schools and I’ll fight for that for our communities.”
Chafin said he can help usher in a new era to the school board and bring his unique experiences to the table.
“I’ll fight for teachers,” he said. “That is one thing I will promise.”