December 17, 2015

So far, Hatteras seat is the only contested race for school board


With only two days remaining to file to run in the March 15 primary election, the only contested seat for the Board of Education is the District 4 seat, which includes all of Hatteras Island.

Two candidates have filed with the Board of Elections for the District 4 seat as of Thursday, Dec. 17. The filing period ends Monday, Dec. 21.

Carlos A. Babilonia of Buxton will run against Mary Ellon Ballance of Hatteras village in the non-partisan election to fill the seat currently held by Danny Couch of Buxton, who has decided to run for the Dare County Board of Commissioners seat being vacated by Allen Burrus.

“I have been interested in serving on the Board of Education for District 4 for several years.  Timing is very important and I feel like it is now my time.” said Ballance.

Ballance, a 19-year resident of Hatteras Island, is married to Todd Ballance, a commercial fisherman and chief of the Hatteras Volunteer Fire Department.  

“Community involvement is very important to myself and my family.  Both my husband and I are dedicated to making a difference in this place we call home.”

Ballance currently serves as president of the Cape Hatteras Booster Club, is the Hatteras Community Fish Fry Coordinator, Fessenden Center Advisory Board member, and president of the HVFD Ladies Fire Auxiliary.

When it comes to education, Ballance has this to say; “In my service on several advisory boards I have learned that there is the business of education and the process of education.  Bringing those two things together in order to meet the needs of the students, teachers, and administration is the challenge.”  

Ballance has owned her own business in Hatteras village for 18 years and holds an A.A. degree in business management from Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md.  She lives in Hatteras village with her husband and their son, Wheeler, a freshman at Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies.

Ballance says her goal, given an opportunity to serve on the board, is "to foster relationships among the community and elected officials."

“There needs to be a strong relationship between the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, and the students, faculty, and administration of all Dare County schools," she said. "Communication is key to allowing us to bring awareness and understanding of the issues facing our school system so that we can solve them efficiently and effectively.”

Babilonia is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and is currently manager of maintenance for Hatteras Realty. He has served on the Board of Education's Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee since 2011. His duties have included serving as the Partnership in Education coordinator, supervising advocacy programs, instructional support and enrichment programs established to expand academic and vocational opportunities for Dare County students.

“Volunteering in Dare County Schools has given me the opportunity to interact with people and personnel in all schools in our district,” Babilonia said. “ I have established relationships with administrators and teachers that will aid the Board of Education in preparing our students for their futures.”

Babilonia also serves as a referee and athletics consultant for Dare County Parks and Recreation. He is an Eagle Scout (Boys Scouts of America) and 1994 honors graduate and Medal of Loyalty recipient of the American Military Academy. His U.S. Coast  Guard career provided extensive training in federal law enforcement with high-level security clearances and technical and cyber/computer skills.

He and his wife, Rosalie (“Salie”), are the parents of three students in Cape Hatteras schools -- Carlos Jr. a high school senior, Enrique, a sophomore, and Calia, who  is a seventh grader.

“We have tremendous academic and vocational resources available to us in Dare County, including our Latino/Hispanic community,” Babilonia said. "I’m fully bilingual in English and Spanish, and one of my goals is to accentuate and develop the relationships we have among all Dare County students.

Babilonia adds that Dare County Schools should continue to nurture children from all cultural and social backgrounds in pursuit of "the mission and vision to educate every child" so that all students will graduate on time and be prepared for college, careers and life.

The District 4 contest is thus far the only Board of Education race in which voters will have a choice on March 15. To date, no one has filed to challenge incumbent Chairman Ben Sproul or Vice-Chairman Bea Basnight. And former Dare Schools Transportation Director David Twiddy is unopposed in his bid to fill the seat of former board member David Oaksmith, who died in early November.

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