Originally created 06/26/04

School board qualifying is next week



Though qualifying opens Monday for board of education elections in Richmond and Columbia counties, one candidate has already tossed his hat in the ring.

On June 23 at the Board of Elections Office in Columbia County, Micheal Sleeper declared his intent to accept campaign contributions. He will run against incumbent Lee Muns for the Columbia County school board's District 5 seat.

"My child and the people in this district need someone that is going to work with the administration instead of against them," said Mr. Sleeper, who said his campaign platform would likely include school safety issues and drug prevention.

In Richmond County, board President Jeff Padgett and members Marion Barnes, Andrew A. Jefferson, Y.N. Myers Jr. and Helen Minchew must defend their seats this year.

Qualifying in both counties begins Monday and ends at noon Friday. The offices run nonpartisan races and will appear on the November general ballot. The seats are four-year terms.

In Columbia County, Mr. Sleeper, 36, of Evans, is a principal security computer engineer with Westinghouse Savannah River Co. He is now serving as campaign manager for Greg Kernaghan and is the son-in-law of Columbia County Board of Commission Chairman Ron Cross.

Mr. Muns, who is completing his first term in office, said he will seek re-election.

"I feel like for the last four years I have made a difference," he said. "Even though sometimes I may have been at the other end of the spectrum, I feel like I brought some good ideas and some good questions to the table."

Mr. Muns said he plans to keep his post as Columbia County's Republican Party chairman while running for re-election.

Mr. Sleeper's neighbor Lou Anne Grove said she also plans to seek the District 5 school board seat. Both she and Mr. Sleeper have 4-year-olds who will enter Riverside Elementary this year. Mrs. Grove, 40, is a computer teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.

"I just love teaching and love what I do," Mrs. Grove said.

Martinez resident Donnie Porter has declared his intention to seek the District 2 seat currently held by Wayne Bridges, who also plans to seek re-election. "I've talked to a lot of people who, like me, aren't satisfied with the direction of our school system," said Mr. Porter, who supports expansion of elementary Spanish instruction and efforts to change to an at-large elected chairman.

Mr. Porter, 39, is the guidance coordinator and statistical analyst for the Guidance, Testing and Research Department of the Richmond County Board of Education and at one time served as the board's public information officer.

Columbia County School Board Chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker's term also expires this year. Mrs. Whitaker, who is completing her second term, was on vacation Friday and could not be reached for comment.

The fee to qualify is $195 in Columbia County and $100 in Richmond County.

Columbia County candidates must file at the Board of Elections office in the Government Complex, Building B, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans. In Richmond County, go to the first floor of the Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.

Staff writer Greg Rickabaugh contributed to this article.

Reach Melissa Hall at 868-1222, ext. 113, or melissa.hall@augustachronicle.com.

Up for Re-Election

A breakdown of incumbents who are up for re-election on the school boards in Columbia and Richmond counties.

Columbia County

  • Wayne Bridges, District 2

  • Roxanne Whitaker, District 4

  • Lee Muns, District 5

    Richmond County

  • Marion Barnes, District 1

  • Andrew A. Jefferson, District 4

  • Y.N. Myers Jr., District 5

  • Jeff Padgett, District 8

  • Helen Minchew, District 10