He came in last a year ago. Beaufort County mortician tries again for school board seat


Another Beaufort County resident who failed to secure a seat on the county’s Board of Education the first time around is giving it a second shot.

Buryl Garnett Sumpter, 63, filed his paperwork Monday to run in the Nov. 6 election for the District 3 seat.

District 3, which is comprised of Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island and parts of Beaufort, is represented by retired educator Cynthia Gregory-Smalls.

Sumpter is a mortician who has managed funeral homes in metro Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina. He grew up in the Frogmore area on St. Helena and returned to his hometown about three years ago to care for a family member.

He will face Smalls, who filed for re-election in March, St. Helena businessman William Smith, as well as Gullah-Geechee performing artist Natasha D. Robinson in the upcoming election.

This is not the first time Smalls, Smith and Sumpter have faced off in a school board race. In March 2017, Smalls won the District 3 seat by only three votes. Smalls tallied 339 votes, while Smith came in with 336 and Sumpter trailed further behind with 59 votes.

Buryl Garnett Sumpter Submitted

Sumpter said on Wednesday that he was not ready to talk to the media, but in 2017, he submitted answers to a questionnaire sent out to candidates by the special interest group Citizens Advocating Responsible Education.

In that questionnaire, Sumpter said his top three priorities were to be visible and accessible to his constituents, to cast his votes based on the needs and concerns of his constituents and to bring together faculty/staff, parents, students, community leaders, the BCEA and other organizations to achieve success for every student.

As part of the questionnaire, Sumpter also stated he was “actively involved in the community as a volunteer and a substitute teacher throughout the Beaufort County School District.”

“This ‘in the trenches’ experience has given me invaluable insight to better serve on the board,” he wrote.

Who else has filed?

Seven of the board’s 11 seats are up for grabs in the November election. As of Wednesday:

District 1: Seat held by board member Earl Campbell is up for election in 2020.

District 2: Longtime Lady’s Island resident Terry Thomas filed in April. Board member David Striebinger filed for re-election in July.

District 3: Board member Cynthia Gregory-Smalls filed for re-election in March. St. Helena businessman William Smith filed in mid-July. Mortician Buryl Garnett Sumpter filed in late July. Gullah-Geechee performing artist Natasha D. Robinson filed in early August.

District 4: Board member Joseph Dunkle filed for re-election in early July. Retired Beaufort County educator Tricia Fidrych filed in mid-July.

District 5: Two retired military men — Richard Geier and Ray Johnson — filed to run in March. Sarah Stuchell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, filed in July. The seat is held by board member Geri Kinton, who said she plans to vacate when her term ends.

District 6: Seat held by board member John Dowling is up for election in 2020.

District 7: Hilton Head native Rachel Wisnefski and Chris Davey, parts and service manager at Grainger Nissan of Beaufort, filed to run in July. Board member Evva Anderson said she has not decided whether she will run for re-election.

District 8: Former educator John Eddy announced he would run in July. Board member Mary Cordray said she has not decided whether she will run again.

District 9: Seat held by board member Christina Gwozdz is up for election in 2020.

District 10: Peter Kristian, the manager of Hilton Head Plantation, filed for the seat in late June. Board member Bill Payne said he has not decided whether he will run again.

District 11: Seat held by board member JoAnn Orischak is up for election in 2020.

Those interested in running for school board have until noon Aug. 15 to file for candidacy.

To find which board district represents you, visit