Filing for an open Beaufort County Board of Education seat ended at noon Tuesday, and one candidate emerged.
Wilbur (Bill) M. Payne Jr. filed for the seat Monday to represent part of Hilton Head Island, according to Marie Smalls, interim director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
The school board's District 10 seat was left vacant when Mike Sanz resigned in August. After the positioned opened up, friends, neighbors and other District 10 residents approached Payne to run for the seat, he said.
"They said, 'Bill, you've had all this experience, have you thought about filling this vacant position on the board? We would like you to strongly consider it,'" Payne said Tuesday.
As a teacher and school administrator, Payne spent 43 years in education in Maryland, Georgia and even a brief stint in Iran, he said. In 2002, he joined the Beaufort County schools and worked as an assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Middle School and Battery Creek and Hilton Head Island high schools, he said.
Before he retired in 2008, Payne spent two years as principal of Whale Branch Middle School. Payne is also a member of the Hilton Head Island Volunteers in Medicine Clinic and the Central Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Getting students' reading and writing skills stronger earlier in their education is one of Payne's focuses, as is empowering teachers and principals to achieve that priority, he said.
"We do need a very strong literacy-based Pre-K through second grade because we want all of our youngsters to be on grade level (reading) by grade three," he said. "That literacy-based education in those three grades is extremely important."
Payne is the only person to file as a petition candidate, which requires signatures from at least 2.5 percent of active registered voters in the district, or 215 people. Payne submitted 626 signatures, according to Smalls.
Write-in candidates may file until the end of the day Oct. 15. If others file, a special election will be held Dec. 3.
However, if 215 of the signatures on Payne's petition are certified and no one files as a write-in candidate, then Payne will win the seat without an election, Smalls said.
Election results are typically certified the Friday after a scheduled election, but state law allows elections boards to certify an uncontested winner without having to wait until then, Smalls said. That means the elections board could meet to sign off on Payne's win as early as Oct. 16, Smalls said.
After the elections board certifies a winner, the candidate can be sworn into the position the following Monday, she added.
Meanwhile, the race to fill the County Council's District 10 seat, which represents the same geographic area, could end as early as Friday without an election.
Republican Steve Fobes is the only candidate to file for that position. If no one files as a write-in candidate before the noon Friday deadline, the board of elections will certify Fobes as the winner, the board decided Monday.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.