By Aila Boyd
Aaron Lyles, an insurance agent with Family Heritage Life, hopes to succeed current Botetourt County School Chairman and longtime member Michael Beahm.
“I would like the opportunity to be an advocate for our teachers, and our staff, while making sure that our students and parents feel like they have a voice and a friend on the board,” Lyles said. “I also look forward to working with other leaders, both locally, and in the General Assembly to make sure that Botetourt’s needs are not forgotten. I believe that I can work well with others, and be a consensus builder. With the right amount of hard work, transparency and can-do attitude, we can address our problems and build a better Botetourt.”
Previously, Lyles served on the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission. Also, he was elected to the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, but resigned the post after one year due to family matters.
Over the course of the year that he served on the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, Lyles said that he learned how to represent the county well. He noted that most people view being an elected official as being “glamorous,” but that once the campaign is over with, it’s all about getting down to business and doing the right thing for the citizens whose bidding they’re doing.
Lyles ran against Beahm during his re-election campaign four years ago, but ultimately lost. He explained that he learned quite a bit from the campaign and didn’t take his loss personally.
When considering potentially succeeding Beahm, Lyles said that Beahm “has done a lot” for the county and that whoever ends up replacing him on the School Board will have “big shoes to fill.”
Additionally, Lyles ran for the Vinton Town Council in 2010 when he was a senior at William Byrd High School. Although he lost the race, he said that he came very close to victory, only losing by 13 votes.
His job, Lyles said, allows him a decent amount of flexibility and, if elected, will set aside a few days a week to focus on the concerns of citizens and the business of the school division.
He also noted that he feels that his relatively young age gives him a unique perspective when it comes to public education, having graduated from high school less than 10 years ago.
Although he doesn’t currently have a child who attends the school division, Lyles stressed that he still has a “vested interest” in the success of the division because of his nieces who do attend Botetourt County Public Schools.
He added that if given the opportunity to represent the Valley District, he will be accessible and transparent.
As he surveys the current shape of the school division, Lyles asserts that there aren’t many problems facing it, rather challenges, including changes in technology. In order to tackle the challenges that the division might face, if elected, he said he will be clear eyed, will not take anything for granted, and will work to develop various partnerships.
In preparation for his run, Lyles said that he has reviewed the minutes from all of the School Board meetings for the last year.