Todd Garrett hasn’t slept much while waiting on the results from the Charleston County School Board election.
The 36-year-old industrial real estate broker was one of five write-in candidates hoping to win the board’s downtown seat, and he appeared to do so with 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results released late Thursday.
“I’m very relieved,” he said. “We worked as hard as we could.”
Garrett just was sworn in as a board member during its Oct. 22 meeting, so he served two weeks of an unexpired term before Tuesday’s election.
He said his top priority is preparing students to compete in a global economy, and his other goals include increasing teachers’ salaries based on merit, improving low-performing schools and changing the state’s system for firing bad teachers.
It took a few days for election officials to determine that Garrett won because they had to sort through 11,186 write-in paper and electronic votes. No candidate was listed on the ballot, which is an atypical situation for this kind of countywide race.
Joe Debney, executive director of the Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said more than 3,500 votes were for non-existent candidates.
Adolf Hitler got a vote, as did “N/A” and Daffy Duck. Other Charleston County write-in nominees included “A good person,” “Batman,” and “A Democrat.”
The second-highest vote-getter was Louis Weinstein, who had 4 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results.
Garrett will join three other new board members — retired business executive John Barter, retired military colonel Tom Ducker and barbershop owner Michael Miller, according to unofficial election results. Incumbents Chris Collins and Chris Fraser also were re-elected. Incumbent Brian Thomas lost his seat.
Many school district insiders are optimistic about the makeup of the new board, including school board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats.
The new members agree that the district has room for improvement, but they can’t do that when the board conversation is peppered with personal attacks, she said.
She expects this new board to communicate better.
“I think that change is good,” she said. “We have such a great group of people with so many great things to offer. I’m really excited about this board.”
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.
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