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Editor’s note: A front-page headline in the Wednesday, July 18, issue indicated there would be no school board elections this fall. It should have said there will be no special school board elections this fall, as there will be three school board seats on the ballot in November.
Though a recent S.C. Attorney General’s Office ruling nixed special elections in newly redrawn Lancaster County school board Districts 1 and 5, there are still three school board elections set for this year’s general election ballots.
Incumbent school board members Tyrom Faulkner of District 2, Bill Sumner of District 4 and Margaret Gamble of District 6 are all up for re-election this year.
Even-numbered school board seats are up for election in presidential voting years.
As of now, all three incumbents are set to run unopposed, but that could change during non-partisan filing, which is Aug. 1-15.
Lancaster City Council candidates will file for election during the same period.
Gamble, the school board’s vice chairwoman, is the longest-serving of the three board members, with two terms on the board.
A retired Lancaster County principal with 32 years in local education, Gamble said she enjoys what she does on the board and looks forward to serving another term.
“I enjoy being involved with the education of our young people and we’ve got some projects we’ve started that we haven’t finished,” Gamble said. “And we always want to finish what we started.
“We’ve got a good board,” she said. “Even though we’re elected to serve in districts, it’s always an effort for the best interest of all the county’s schools and students.”
Faulkner is coming to the end of his first half-term since winning a special District 2 election in 2010 to replace Charlene McGriff, who won a seat on Lancaster County Council that year.
Faulkner, who is executive director of the Lancaster Fatherhood Project, said the past two years have been a learning experience. He said he’s grown to enjoy listening to and representing parents’ concerns in his district.
Faulkner also said there are several issues in motion on the board that he’d like to see through to the end, such as working to close the achievement gap between minority and white students.
“Now that I’ve got my feet wet and I know what I’m doing, I want to make sure our district and community’s kids get the best education afforded to them,” Faulkner said. “Make sure all of our programs, administrators and teachers are dedicated to the main purpose of making sure our children get the very best education.”
Like Faulkner, Sumner joined the school board midway through a term after a special election following the death of District 4 school board member Dr. Peter Barry in 2010.
Sumner, who could not be reached by deadline Thursday, is a pastor, former Lancaster police chief, former Lancaster City Council member and former director of Lancaster Children’s Home.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office ruling only applied to special elections in school board Districts 1 and 5, both of which were affected by redistricting of County Council districts, which school board districts mirror.
The ruling said school board members whose districts were combined during redistricting are entitled to serve the entirety of their four-year terms.
As a result of the ruling, District 5 school board member Janice Dabney and District 7’s Mary Etta Taylor, both of whom now live in District 5 after redistricting, will not have to face each other in a special election this November to determine who serves out the remainder of the District 5 term.
The ruling also means there won’t be an election this fall for the District 1 seat in Indian Land, which would have been vacated by incumbent Don McCorkle, who now represents that district, but lives in the newly created District 7 in the northern end of the Panhandle.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151