Washington defeated; newcomers to join school board

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comNovember 6, 2012 

Candidates for Beaufort County Board of Education District 3: Michael Rivers, Bernie Schein, Fred Washington Jr.

Two incumbents went down, and two newcomers won northern Beaufort County seats in an election that will bring turnover to the Board of Education when new members take office in January.

Incumbent Michael Rivers picked up 46.9 percent of the vote in a three-man race for a newly drawn seat, ousting current chairman Fred Washington Jr. and turning away challenger Bernie Schein.

Voters chose only three of the five incumbents up for election, but two of those -- Earl Campbell and Laura Bush -- ran unopposed.

Ten of the 11 school board seats were up for election Tuesday after redistricting based on the 2010 Census.

DISTRICT 3

Rivers, first elected in 1998, will represent parts of the city of Beaufort, St. Helena Island and Lady's Island.

He said his top priority is closing the student-achievement gap and securing adequate funding for the district. An attempt to reach him for comment late Tuesday was unsuccessful.

Washington, who was first elected in 2006, said he wasn't surprised by the results. Washington brought in 25.75 percent of the vote, and Schein, 26.8 percent.

"I only have about 10 percent of the new district, but 70 percent was (Rivers')," Washington said, referring to redistricting plan.

Schein, a retired educator, said this would be the first and only run for office.

"I don't think I'll run again," Schein said. "I worked as hard as I possibly could, and I did tell the whole truth -- as I saw it, anyway."

DISTRICT 4

Jim Beckert got more than two-thirds of the vote to easily top Brian Herrmann for the District 4 seat, which represents Port Royal, Shell Point and part of Beaufort.

Beckert, who manages a family-owned business, said the top priority for the school board should be selecting a new superintendent to replace Valerie Truesdale, who left the district at the end of September for another job.

He said Tuesday that one of the first tasks the board will face is electing a new chairman.

"I think before we start accomplishing anything, the board needs to come together, and all of the new members need to find out what each of our strengths and weaknesses are."

Herrmann, a Beaufort County planner, said he wished Beckert and the other newly elected board members well.

DISTRICT 5

Geri Kinton, a founding member and former board member of Riverview Charter School, beat incumbent Ron Speaks in the race to represent residents in Burton, Habersham and part of Okatie.

Kinton took 63.8 percent of the vote; Speaks took 36 percent.

Kinton said she hopes the strengthen communication between the school district, the school board and the community.

"We need to regain that trust from the community," she said. "We need to let them know what's going on and that we're holding district administration accountable for making sure the mission of the school district is carried out."

Speaks, first elected in 1996, said he was surprised by the results.

"Sometimes you think that everything is going in your favor, and sometimes it's not. It's time for me to depart," Speaks said.

Related content

  1. Northern Beaufort County Board of Education candidates lay out priorities; Oct. 27, 2012
  2. In write-in races for Beaufort County school board, winner may not be known on election night; Oct. 26, 2012
  3. Candidates spar at Beaufort Chamber forum; Nov. 1, 2012
  4. More southern Beaufort County representatives to hold seats on countywide boards; Oct. 18, 2012

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