Making Democracy Work

The Critical Choice at the Bottom of Your Ballot: Charleston County School Board Election

2016 Charleston County School Board Election

The Charleston County School District is the 2nd largest school district in the state with more than 50,000 students in 86 schools. The School Board is in charge of a $429 million operating budget.

This year, 5 of the 9 Charleston School Board seats are open for election. Voters across Charleston are asked to select 5 candidates; the candidates must live in the geographical area listed, NOT the voter. School board candidates do not declare parties, therefore, voting "straight ticket" will not cast any votes for school board.

2016 Charleston County School Board Candidates

There are 9 candidates running for the 5 open school board seats. They are listed here as they appear on Charleston County's Sample Ballots. We are thankful to the Lowcountry Senior Center, who gathered information on the candidates by requesting a written statement that included personal/background information and a concise identification of three issues of main concern to them for which they have set goals to work to accomplish, if elected. (Please note, the LSC did grammatical editing and edits for length on responses.) Where we could find a candidate's Facebook page or website, we have linked it.

Also See:
Consolidated School Board Peninsula
You may vote for One.

Todd Garrett:
I am a father of three students and one future student in Charleston County public schools. As the son, grandson, and great-grandson of teachers, I was raised to believe in the value of public education, and will fight to ensure that every child is college- or career-ready by graduation.

I am an owner of Avison Young, a commercial real estate company. I am a graduate of The Citadel with a master's degree in public policy from Harvard, a Marine combat veteran, having served two combat tours in Iraq and finishing as a major in the reserves. I have led mission projects in Zambia, Peru, and Mexico, and am an active Rotarian. My wife Jessica and I live in Hampton Park with our four children. We are active members at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church where I serve as an elder.

My priorities include:
1. Ensuring all kids are on a trajectory to be college- or career-ready by graduation.
2. Holding district leaders accountable for those results.
3. Rebuilding our budget reserves and credit rating for the district.

Tony Lewis: I was born and raised here in Charleston, SC. I am proud to serve my community as an activist, mentor, coach, and constituent school board member.

My main three goals:
1) Literacy--All students read on grade level before going to the next grade so that they can read and comprehend upon graduation.
2) Transparency--Communication is clear among school board members, teachers, parents, communities and stake holders to ensure fairness and equality to all our scholars and schools.
3) Budget--Funds and resources are allocated to schools based on their needs and not their zip codes, creating a balance and equal opportunities.

Consolidated School Board North Area
You may vote for Two, less than Two, but not more than Two.

Chris Collins:
I own a small appliance repair company, am the pastor of Healing Ministries, and am completing my second term on the school board. During my tenure, I have been able to greatly reduce the number of children being suspended and expelled. I have worked to reinstate teachers who were facing wrongful terminations, advocated pay raises for teachers and all CCSD employees, and been instrumental in establishing reading/literacy academies.

My priorities are:
1) Literacy--too many students don't read on grade level
2) Achievement gap--students of diverse backgrounds are not learning as well as Caucasians
3) Rural and Title One schools are not getting adequate resources and funding
4) Diversity--more diverse teaching staff is needed, including more male teachers.

Kevin Hollinshead:
In 1985, I received a BS in Criminal Justice from Benedict College; in 2009 an MS in Organizational Management from Springfield College, then studied for two years toward a PhD in Criminal Justice at Walden University. I worked in law enforcement for 13 years with Richland County Sheriff, North Charleston Police Department, and Charleston County Sheriff, worked for the Department of Social Services, and am retired owner of Henry E. Hollinshead & Sons Plumbing.

My platform includes:
1) Building career centers in North Charleston and in the rural community between St. John's Island and Hollywood to prepare students to enter the work force right out of high school
2) Promoting early literacy programs
3) Preventing middle school dropouts
4) Promoting STEM education
5) Improving/diversifying employment opportunities for local teachers.

Russ Patterson:
As the father of three public school children, I am dedicated to education for ALL students in Charleston County. As a servant-leader, I have helped raise money for STEM education and volunteered in numerous opportunities across CCSD. I have what it takes to empower our students and teachers for success.

Continuing my lifetime of public service, I will use my professional experience as a project manager to ensure that:
1) Tax money is well spent
2) Teachers are provided with vital support
3) Students achieve their full potential, prepared for Charleston's world-class economy.

Louis L Smith:
I attended the University of Maine and had a career in the retail industry and as a successful entrepreneur. My lifetime commitment for positive change in my community is by empowering individuals who face economic and educational challenges and are disenfranchised. I founded and am the Executive Director of the Community Resources Center in Summerville, SC, which has provided services to over 500 families and enrolled 600 individuals in the Affordable Health Care Act. I have successfully lobbied school districts for the establishment of Community Learning Resource Centers, advocated for single-member districts for the city of Summerville Town Council, and spearheaded planning both an annual Kwanza Celebration and the Lowcountry Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Parade. I am a widower, father of three children and have four grandchildren.

Consolidated School Board West Ashley
You may vote for Two, Less than Two, but not more than Two

Priscilla Jeffery:
I have served as a teacher, school board member and school-community advocate in rural and urban public schools serving students from diverse socioeconomic, cultural and racial backgrounds for over 30 years. I am currently the founder/president of a non-profit educating girls and training teachers in Ghana.

My platform is the continuation of my life-long commitment to quality public education for all students.
1) All students have a right to quality education.
2) To attract, retain and support excellent teachers and administrators.
3) Curriculum should be challenging, accurate and engaging.
4) Active parent and community involvement is encouraged and supported.

Gary Leonard, Ed.D:
Follow the Money: The citizens and school employees of Charleston County shall have a clear understanding of how tax dollars are spent to improve the quality of education for our students.

Law and Order, CCSD: Before a child can learn and a teacher can teach, all classrooms and schools have to be safe, orderly, clean, and well-maintained.

Competent, Caring and Committed School Employees: We shall recruit, retain and reward employees who contribute to the learning process in our schools and classrooms.

The highest priority will be effective teachers.

Michael Miller: - Candidate could not be reached/No Response

Breaking News for West Ashley School Board Elections

The League of Women Voters opposes "dark money" as hidden influences in elections. Here are two links about the appearance of "dark money" into the West Ashley School Board election.

The local ABC News station reports campaigning done without a candidate's knowledge or approval.

Local columnist Andy Brack decries the hidden and expensive campaigns conducted by undisclosed persons for undisclosed purposes.

Vote for the Children!