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Runoff election voting in South Carolina

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Voters across the Palmetto State returned to the polls to vote in the June 28 runoff elections, following the June 14 primary voting.

One of the statewide races that garnered attention was in choosing the Republican candidate for state Superintendent of Education.

Courtesy www.kathymaness.com

Kathy Maness, executive director of Palmetto State Teachers Association and former teacher in Lancaster County, lost to Ellen Weaver, president and CEO of Palmetto Promise Institute. Weaver had worked in the office of former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

Courtesy www.ellenforeducation.com

The current superintendent, Molly Spearman, announced she would not seek reelection to the position she’s held since 2015. She had endorsed Maness to replace her.

Weaver had the endorsement of Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) who is running for reelection.

Tabatha Hughes, a former teacher in Aiken County who is now helping to revise the language arts reading and writing standards at the middle school grade level, is concerned about this election.

“I feel like we need to ensure that the person that is elected, has had experience in education, that they’ve been a teacher or that they understand what it’s like to be in a classroom. So many times, I think that we have people making laws or policies, maybe with good intentions, but they’ve never actually been in the role of an educator,” she said.

The education department has one of the largest budgets in South Carolina. It oversees nearly 800,000 students, about 55,000 educators and more than 1,200 schools.

Hughes says those numbers point out just how significant a job the superintendent faces.

“The person that is elected come November, is going to have a huge influence on the policy that sets the education for the children of the state of South Carolina,” she said, adding, “Even for those that don’t have children in the system right now, you will directly, eventually be impacted by those children coming out of our educational system. So, whoever becomes our superintendent has a huge responsibility to bear on shaping the policies and our educational system for our children.”

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Another factor Hughes sees is the tremendous amount of growth, new housing developments bringing hundreds of new residents into Aiken County, as well as Edgefield County. Both districts have ambitious construction projects to upgrade and expand existing schools and build new schools in high growth areas.

“So, the superintendent, whoever that person is, is going to have to be aware of, not only the growth, but the fact that different areas and communities within the state are not the same. So, a one size fits all, cookie cutter approach to education is not going to work either if we’re talking about equity, and equality for all of our teachers and students across the district,” said Hughes.

Weaver will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, who defeated two opponents in primary voting on June 14.

South Carolinians also decided that Democratic contender Krystle Matthews will face Scott in the November general election. Matthews beat Catherine Fleming Bruce.

There were no runoff elections at the local level in Aiken or Edgefield counties.

Election results will be posted online at: https://www.enr-scvotes.org/SC/115187/Web02-state.289375/#/?undefined

Dana Lynn McIntyre is a general assignment reporter for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected] 

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