In race for 5 Charleston school board seats, 12 contenders meet petition deadline

In the race for five seats on the Charleston County School Board, a dozen people have collected enough signatures to potentially appear on the November ballot.

The lineup includes three incumbents, some familiar faces in local politics and a few newcomers.

Potential candidates were walking into the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration office as late as 11:45 a.m. Friday to meet the noon petition deadline. To appear on a ballot, a person must collect 500 voter signatures on a candidate petition, including 250 from the area they are seeking to represent and 250 from anywhere else in Charleston County.

Election officials on Friday were only able to confirm that the following candidates have collected enough total signatures. Officials will have until Aug. 15 to certify that the signatures are valid and come from addresses in the appropriate areas. In the general election, all Charleston County residents will be able to vote for all areas.

The following people collected 500 signatures to run for a single seat representing the downtown Charleston peninsula:

Todd Garrett (incumbent)

Tony E. Lewis

The following people are contending for two North Area seats on the board:

Rev. Chris Collins (incumbent)

Andrea Bailey Erb

Kevin Hollinshead

Russ Patterson

Aaron G. Rosendary

Louis L. Smith

The following people are contending for two West Ashley seats:

Priscilla Jeffery

Gary Leonard

Rodney L. Lewis

Michael Miller (incumbent)

Most of the potential candidates have some history in local politics.

Lewis serves as chair of the downtown Constituent District 20 School Board.

Erb and Patterson ran unsuccessfully for North Charleston City Council in 2015 and 2011, respectively.

Hollinshead previously served as chairman of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

Rosendary recently moved to North Charleston from Berkeley County and has a child attending a local school.

Smith has run for the Dorchester District 2 School Board several times while protesting what he calls discriminatory practices. He said he recently moved to North Charleston.

Jeffery is a retired teacher and member of the local education activist group Quality Education Project.

Leonard is a retired educator who worked for 31 years in K-12 education and four years in higher education.

Lewis is a member of West Ashley’s Constituent District 10 School Board.

Two school board incumbents, Tom Ducker and Tripp Wiles, did not appear on the list. Ducker said that after serving one four-year term, he was placing a “self-imposed term limit” on himself. When asked what accomplishment he was proudest of from his time on the board, he said a highlight was “the new change in administration.”

“I didn’t vote for (Superintendent) Gerrita Postlewait because I wanted a more business-like person, but I think she has risen to at least my level of confidence,” Ducker said. “She has some business background, and that shows in the way she does business. She’s very frugal in the way she handles money, and I like the way she’s taking the district in a new direction as far as literacy.”

Reach Paul Bowers at (843) 937-5546 or twitter.com/paul_bowers.