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School board race already ramping up

Three people are already formally filing to seek seats on the upcoming Colleton County School Board election, and there is still more than one week left in the open filing period.

One of the three candidates is former school board member William Bowman, who is again seeking a spot on the school board.

Bowman served two terms prior on the board for District 7. During his latest term, however, district lines were redrawn. These new lines changed his address to be outside of his elected jurisdiction, forcing him to resign from his post. This will be his first time running for school board under the new jurisdiction lines.

On Monday, Bowman said he is again running for council to bring back transparency to the school board. He also says he wants to be a “true representative” for the people in his new district.

“There needs to be a higher level of accountability,” he said. “The school board has a purpose and rules and responsibility that come with that purpose. The school board is to be a liaison to the public, and to inform the public of the happenings of a district level. Another purpose of the school board is to hold everyone accountable to the taxpayers. These purposes seem to escape the current school board members,” he said. “Not everyone is currently being held accountable for their actions.”

Also running to represent the Cottageville area on the school board is Cyndi Brewer Roberts.

Roberts is a realtor and mother of two. This is her second bid at the school board.

During an interview with this newspaper, Roberts says she is seeking a seat on the school board to ensure that the school district can retain teachers. She also wants to see more transparency from the board, along with more frequent meeting times from the elected board, she said.

“My kids go to school here,” she said, adding that the school board’s current meeting schedule is “not enough” to deal with a district the size of Colleton County. “I have the time and the commitment to do this,” she said. “There is a current teacher shortage, and a severe problem with teacher satisfaction in our district,” said Roberts. “Our teachers are the ones in the trenches, and no one asks them about their documentation, or about their classrooms. They are hands-on, every day and I want them to be able to do more proactive efforts in how to reward positive behavior form their students, and in how to discipline their students.”

Additionally, Roberts says she wants to see the district create a better plan for its incoming new alternative school. “There are 40 seats for that school, and it needs to be 100,” she said. “Tough decisions need to be made, in how to correct discipline problems in our current classrooms and how to expand the proposed alternative school.”

Lastly, local community activist Sharon Hazel Witkin is seeking to represent the greater Forest Hills community on the school board. Witkin is also a mother of two, and volunteers routinely at Forest Hills Elementary. This is her first bid for public office. Witkin says she is running for the school board because of her desire to serve the community and to improve local education.

“I just graduated from the local leadership program, and that opens your eyes to what is and what could be. I am motivated to give, and to make changes for the better,” she said. Witkin says she is primarily concerned with the district’s ability to attract and maintain teachers and staff. “We need to develop them in their profession, and retain them in our classrooms,” she said, speaking of our teachers. “I will be a positive-minded candidate who wants to be invested in our district, and in our community.”

As of press deadline on Tuesday, Bowman, Roberts and Witkin are the only three candidates who have filed thus far to run for open seats on the school board.

Filing opened at noon on Friday, July 27th and will stay open through noon on Friday, August 10th.

There are three open seats on the school board in the coming November election. They are for Seats 2, 4, and 6.

In addition to these seats, a special election will be held to complete the remaining term of 2 years for Seat 3. This seat was recently vacated by Gale Doggette, who moved outside of her elected district.
Seat 2 is currently held by Tim Mabry.
Seat 4 is currently held by Darlene Miller.
Seat 6 is currently held by Harry Jenkins.

As of press deadline, neither Mabry nor Jenkins had filed to again seek their incumbent seats on the school board. If he files, Mabry will be challenged by Wilkin.

Miller also has not yet filed, as of our press deadline on Tuesday. She is being contested by both Bowman and Roberts.

Candidates wanting to file to run for their appropriate seat on the school board can go to the Colleton County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office in Walterboro. Filing hours at this office are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. On the final day of filing, August 10th, candidate applications will only be taken from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

According to county Elections Director Angela Upchurch, the local county elections office will be overseeing these school board elections.

In order to file as a candidate, an interested person needs to complete a Nonpartisan Statement of Intention of Candidacy Form, which is available in the “Candidate Information” section at www.scvotes.org.

According to Upchurch, there is a $20 fee to file for school board. Checks should be made payable to the Colleton County Election Commission at the time of filing.

Update: 8/1/18

Current Colleton County School Board member Tim Mabry has again filed to run for his seat on the school board.

Mabry filed with the local elections office today, August 1st.

Also running for the school board are Cyndi Roberts, William Bowman and Sharon H. Witkin.

Witkin is seeking to fill the remaining term of former school board member Gale Doggette.

Roberts and Bowman are challenging candidates for the greater Cottageville area.

 

Heather Walters (1389 Posts)