Dog ate his homework: School board hopeful loses shot at ballot because his pet chewed up petition signatures

August 12, 2010 

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Spencer, an 8-month-old mastador owned by Lady's Island resident Terry Thomas, looks up from his cage Thursday evening after an earlier chewing-spree that left the letter at right and other papers in a slobbery mess. Spencer chewed the signatures Thomas collected in order to run as a school board candidate the day before filing in July.

SARAH WELLIVER

  • The only person who filed to represent Hilton Head Island’s District 2 on the Beaufort County Board of Education did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify for candidacy, the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration announced Thursday. Julie Bell needed to turn in 195 valid signatures to get her name on the November ballot, said Scott Marshall, director of the elections board. She turned in 202 signatures, but only 147 were valid, Marshall said. Signatures must be from a registered voter who lives in the candidate’s district. Marshall said this means the election likely will be won by a write-in candidate. A space to write in the name of any candidate will be on the ballot, and the person who receives the most write-in votes will win. Marshall said there is no formal declaration process or paperwork for write-in candidates to complete. Bell, a 38-year resident of Beaufort County, lives in the Point Comfort neighborhood and works as Beaufort County’s membership director for Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina. Bell said she thought she had submitted enough valid signatures, but guesses people who either don’t live in her district or aren’t registered to vote signed. She said late Thursday she plans to talk to the elections office to find out what her options are now. She said she probably should have finished collecting signatures earlier and spent more time verifying them. “I hope I’m not letting anybody down because I will call tomorrow and find out what I can do now, how I can go about being a write-in candidate,” Bell said. “Whatever it is I can do, I’ll do.” Bob Arundell currently holds the District 2 seat but is not seeking a second term.

Terry Thomas won't be able to run for school board in November because his dog ate his homework.

No, really, it did.

The signatures the Lady's Island resident collected to appear on the ballot were lying on the counter the night before they were due to the county elections board. Thomas then stepped outside to check the mail.

When he returned, Thomas discovered his 8-month-old puppy, Spencer, with a mouthful of paper. Spencer is a mastador, a mix between a Labrador and bull mastiff.

"He goes after the darndest things," Thomas said Thursday, and paper is among his most common targets.

He said Spencer ruined about 200 signatures -- most of what had been collected.

"I'm rather disappointed, but I can't do anything about it," Thomas said. "That's the luck of the draw."

Thomas began working in local schools after retiring from a business career of 40 years. He now is a substitute teacher and an assistant football coach at Beaufort High School. He also tutors student athletes at Beaufort High.

He said he'll remember this mishap when his students use classic excuses for forgetting assignments.

"Now I might believe them," Thomas said.

Petitions have been validated for three other candidates running for the District 7 school board seat to represent Lady's Island. They are Bill Evans, Verna Pringle-Holmes and Robert White. Incumbent Jim Bequette is not seeking a second term.

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