Originally created 11/05/04

Two districts force runoffs



AIKEN - Edgefield County voters will head back to the polls Nov. 16 to determine who will hold the District 3 and District 6 seats on the school board.

Two of the four school board races in Edgefield County ended in a runoff Tuesday night because the candidates did not win enough votes to claim a 50 percent-plus-one-vote majority.

As a result, James Bibbs Sr. will face J. Raymond Cook in the runoff race for the District 3 seat. They are vying for the seat left open by retiring school board member George Smith, who served on the board for 15 years.

Incumbent Sallie Cooks will face challenger Kenneth R. Collier for the District 6 seat. The two candidates, who have four years of school board experience apiece, faced each other in the 2000 race for the District 6 seat.

In Edgefield County, candidates must receive 50 percent of the votes plus one to win. Although Mr. Bibbs, a newcomer to the school board race, got the most votes in the District 3 race, it was only 48.76 percent - just short of enough to capture the vote.

"I had an idea that it was going to be hard to beat both of those guys. We campaigned hard up front," Mr. Bibbs said. "In my opinion, the people have already spoken and I think they have spoken loud and clear. I don't think a runoff should apply, but it is the law."

Mr. Cook, who previously had served on the Edgefield County school board for 15 years, said he didn't think the race would end up in a runoff but plans to continue campaigning during the next 12 days.

Edgefield County voter registration Director Tricia Gordon sorted through a handful of provisional ballots Thursday to see whether they would make a difference in the runoff races. She said the provisional ballots had to be discarded and the total number of votes did not change from Tuesday night.

The school board contest was driven by voters wanting more representation for the booming Merriwether area and controversy over last year's school board vote down racial lines to change the Strom Thurmond High School mascot from a Southern planter to a blue tick hound.

Ms. Gordon said that more candidates ran in the school board race than ever before - 11 people vied for four seats. Both of the runoffs are in races that had more than two candidates running - three people ran for the District 3 seat, and four people battled for the District 6 seat.

On Tuesday night, board Chairman Bradley Covar beat challenger Regenia Leonard for the District 4 seat, and challenger Scott S. Chitty defeated incumbent Leslie Culpepper for the District 7 seat.

The newly elected and re-elected board members will be sworn in at the Dec. 14 Edgefield County school board meeting, said Lunette Patten, the administrative assistant for the Edgefield County School District.

Reach Karen Ethridge at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109 or karen.ethridge@augustachronicle.com.

RUNOFFS

District 3

PRECINCTS VOTING: Trenton 006, Merriwether 007, Kendall 003

WHEN TO VOTE: The precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16

James Bibbs Sr. : 531 votes, or 48.76 percent

J. Raymond Cook: 350 votes, or 32.14 percent

District 6

Sallie Cooks (Incumbent): 384 votes, or 36.57 percent

Kenneth R. Collier: 308 votes, or 29.33 percent