WINFIELD, W.Va. -- For Robert Cunningham, his three young children and his commitment to his home county are what pushed him to apply to become Putnam County's newest Board of Education member.
"I started kindergarten at Winfield Elementary School and went straight through," Cunningham said. "The shift since then has been very progressive. Putnam County schools are very well-respected throughout the state, and the recent bond that was passed shows the commitment of not only the board, but the people in the community -- they want to have quality education and quality facilities for our children to learn."
Cunningham, 44, was chosen from a pool of roughly a dozen applicants to fill the unexpired term of Deborah Phillips, according to Karen Nowviskie, director of early childhood education at Putnam County Schools.
Phillips, who was elected to her latest term in 2010, resigned in September. Her term was set to expire in June of 2014, and Cunningham said he hopes to run to keep his spot then.
"I want to make sure we have safe schools, and I want to make sure we recruit and retain the best and the brightest teachers we can," he said.
Cunningham's daughter Hollie, 12, attends Winfield Middle School, and his two younger children, Jaxson, 8, and Caden, 6, attend Winfield Elementary School. He has served for the last year as president of Winfield Midget League football and the Mountain State Elite midget league conference.
Cunningham said he "inherited a good situation" with the league, which had a fair amount of reserve funds and allowed him to help the organization prosper.
"My involvement with the midget league drove me to seek out this position," he said.