Four candidates file for five seats on Aiken County school board

AIKEN --- Five of nine Aiken County school board seats are up for election this November, but the lack of filings could make for an uneventful election.


Only four candidates have officially filed petitions for the five seats.

Open seats include:

- District 2 in Beech Island and Jackson, held by Levi Green. No one has filed for this position, but Green said he will run for re-election.

- District 3 in Bath, held by John Wesley Hightower. Hightower and Howard Shelton, a former Orangeburg County school board member, have filed.

- District 5 in North Augusta, held by Ray Fleming. Fleming has filed for re-election.

- District 6 in Graniteville. Former Aiken County principal Dwight Smith has filed for the seat.

- District 7 in Aiken, held by Rosemary English. No one has filed for the seat, but English has said she will run for re-election.

School board chairwoman Christine Harkins, who held the District 6 seat for eight years, resigned last month because of health issues and will not seek re-election.

Aiken County Elections and Registration director Stewart Bedenbaugh said the low number of candidates could be attributed to the location of the seats. Fewer candidates tend to file in rural areas.

With candidates having until Thursday at noon to file, though, Bedenbaugh said it's hard to know who will turn in petitions later this week.

School board candidates run nonpartisan elections and must file petitions with signatures from at least 50 registered voters in their district.

Green said deciding to dedicate another four years to the school board isn't a decision taken lightly. He said with a difficult budget year ahead of the board, he wanted to run toward the problem rather than away from it.

"After four years, you feel like you're pretty grounded and you're really helping effect change. We have challenging times and there's going to be some major changes ahead," he said.

Green said the board will likely tackle the purpose of administrative offices as part of the next budget process, something that hasn't been changed in more than 30 years.

"We'll have to decide when and if we're going to reorganize the district so we'll have all the efficiency we can," he said. "We can't sit idly by."

The $236 million school bond referendum from May will also likely play a big role in the upcoming election.

Seventy percent of voters voted no on the referendum, and many opposed to the election voiced they'd like to see new faces replace incumbents who supported the referendum.

Candidate filings

Candidates filing to run for Aiken County school board must provide a nominating petition with at least 50 signatures of registered voters from their district to the Aiken County Registration and Elections Office on Vaucluse Road.

District 2: No official filings. Incumbent Levi Green says he will run for re-election.

DISTRICT 3: Incumbent Wesley Hightower, Howard Shelton

DISTRICT 5: Incumbent Ray Fleming

DISTRICT 6: Dwight Smith

DISTRICT 7: No official filings. Incumbent Rosemary English has told colleagues she will run for re-election.



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