Beaufort News

A run for state office could empty another Beaufort County school board seat

Beaufort County school board representative Michael Rivers, photographed after the announcement of former chairman Bill Evans’ resignation on Oct. 6, 2015.
Beaufort County school board representative Michael Rivers, photographed after the announcement of former chairman Bill Evans’ resignation on Oct. 6, 2015. File photo

Beaufort County residents could be in for yet another election if longtime-school board member Michael Rivers wins his race for the state legislature.

Rivers, who is running for the District 121 seat of the S.C. House of Representatives, beat Democratic challenger Grahame “Grey” Holmes during the statewide primary June 14. If he beats Republican candidate James Broderick in the November general election, Rivers would have to resign from the school board two years early.

Rivers was first elected to the District 3 seat, representing St. Helena Island, in 1998 and is up for re-election in 2018. A special election to replace him sooner could cost the county nearly $10,000, according to Marie Smalls, director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

In February, it cost $9,600 to hold a special election for the school board’s District 2 seat, left empty four months earlier when former chairman Bill Evans resigned, Smalls said.

The process to replace Rivers would cost about the same or a bit less based on the number of precincts and the costs of equipment and ballots.

There are more voters in District 2 than there are in District 3, Smalls said.

A special election would also add at least the third new face the school board would see in about one year. David Striebinger replaced Evans in February and three people are vying for the Bluffton seat currently held by Laura Bush, who is leaving the board after 25 years.

District 1 board member Earl Campbell, who represents Gray’s Hill and Lobeco, is running against Caleb William Bricely Brown, founder and president of youth mentoring program Committed to Excellence. Paul Roth, of District 6 in Okatie, is running against Stephen Bacon, an Air Force veteran who previously ran for Beaufort County Council.

JoAnn Orischak, of District 11 in southern Hilton Head Island, is running so far unopposed. The deadline to file for candidacy is noon Aug. 15.

Rivers, an ordained minister and veteran, has been a vocal critic of superintendent Jeff Moss over the past year, saying the board would be “fighting an uphill battle” until it aggressively dealt with the hiring of Moss’ wife to a newly created administrative position at the start of the school year.

In February, he was one of four people who voted against the adoption of a new district nepotism policy that included no restrictions on the hiring of a superintendent's immediate family members.

Rivers also serves on the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence school board, a post that is appointed by the Beaufort County school board.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Rebecca Lurye: 843-706-8155, @IPBG_Rebecca

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