Washington defeated; newcomers to join school board

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comNovember 6, 2012 

Candidates for Beaufort County Board of Education District 5: Geri Kinton, Ronald Speaks

Turnover is coming to the Beaufort County Board of Education when new members take office in January.

Voters chose three of the five incumbents up for election Tuesday, including voting down current board chairman Fred Washington Jr. Two of those incumbents, Earl Campbell and Laura Bush, were running unopposed.

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

In southern Beaufort County, two of the six districts did not have candidates on the ballot. Votes for write-in candidates will be tallied later this week.


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 to strengthen communication among 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.


Paul Roth beat Bert Walker to represent a district that includes Sun City Hilton Head and parts of Okatie. With seven of 10 precincts reporting, Roth took 61.6 percent of the vote.

Roth, who has a background in investing, advertising and entertainment, said the board should have less to do with the day-to-day business of the district and should not micromanage its staff.

He said Tuesday he was surprised by the results and was enjoying the thrill of winning before the hard work begins.

An attempt to reach Walker late Tuesday was unsuccessful.


With 11 of 13 precincts reporting, Mary Cordray won the District 8 seat.

Cordray led with 42 percent of the vote. Al Bischoff received 27.69 percent of the vote, and Elizabeth Riordan, 29.5 percent.

Cordray said she was anxious to take her seat on the board.

"Waiting until January will be the hardest part," she said.

She said selecting a new superintendent and electing a new board chairman were among her top priorities.

District 8 includes parts of greater Bluffton north of U.S. 278 and a small portion of northern Hilton Head Island.


JoAnn Orischak won the District 11 seat, which includes the south end of Hilton Head and runs along the coast.

She defeated Reid Eikner, who had served on the board from 2006 to 2008.

Orischak won 64.6 percent of the vote; Eikner took 34.7 percent.

Orischak, who has been a software applications instructor, has said the new superintendent should be accountable for goals set by the school board.

An attempt to reach her late Tuesday was unsuccessful.


There were no candidates on the ballot for the District 7 and District 10 seats, which will likely be filled by write-in candidates.

District 7 includes Rose Hill, Island West and Hampton Lake neighborhoods in greater Bluffton.

District 10 includes the middle of Hilton Head Island.

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. More southern Beaufort County representatives to hold seats on countywide boards; Oct. 18, 2012
  4. Bluffton school board candidates discuss next superintendent, budget priorities; Oct. 23, 2012
  5. Hilton Head school board candidates talk new superintendent, budget issues; Oct. 17, 2012

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