Hoping to bring credibility back to the Beaufort County Board of Education, a well-known figure on Hilton Head Island has thrown his hat into the ring for the board's District 10 seat.
Peter Kristian, general manager of Hilton Head Plantation, filed Thursday for the seat in the Nov. 6 election.
"The credibility has to come first because nothing else can be accomplished in good faith until both the community has faith in the board's ability to govern and the board members themselves focus on the youngsters instead of the difficulties they're having just getting along," Kristian said.
The District 10 seat, which represents parts of northern and mid-Hilton Head Island, is held by majority board member Bill Payne, who says he has not yet decided if he will run for re-election.
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November's election has the potential to significantly shake up the 11-member, split board, which often has been at odds in recent years.
Seven of the board's 11 seats are up for grabs — four from the board's six-person majority and two from the board’s five-member minority bloc. Among their many responsibilities, board members elected in November will be tasked with hiring a new superintendent.
Kristian has worked as the general manager of Hilton Head Plantation, the second largest gated community on the island, since February 2000. He is a member of the Town of Hilton Head Island Planning Commission and previously served on the the town's Board of Zoning Appeals.
Before managing communities, Kristian said he spent about 11 years teaching elementary school and children with special needs in New York and Virginia.
If elected, Kristian said his extensive background in board governance will be one of the skills he brings to the table.
"There are rules of decorum that (the board members) have set up for themselves, but unfortunately, at times those policies and procedures don't seem to be at the forefront of the way they govern and treat each other," he said. "I'm hoping to bring some assistance with that."
Kristian said he ultimately decided to file because he feels like he can make "a positive contribution" to the board and the community as a whole.
"I was looking at my volunteer and community work and where those volunteer hours could be spent to benefit the community in the best way possible. And this seems to be where the greatest need is," he said.
Payne, a District 10 board member, ran uncontested when he took over an open seat in 2013 and again in 2014. Although he has not decided if he will run again, he said that facing a contender would not affect his decision.
Payne, a retired educator and administrator, said he was glad to see more members of the community becoming involved and caring about the future of students in Beaufort County
"I'm glad he's stepping up to the plate, and I'm glad to see that he believes in the academic success of the students in this district," Payne said of Kristian. "I hope he keeps that one issue in mind: children first."