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ELECTION GUIDE 2006 ‌ School Haze

Find out who makes the grade and who doesn't

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View the City Paper's Election Guide 2006: School Haze in PDF format here!

Education has figured prominently in the campaign this year, whether it’s saving struggling schools, handling growth and the related cramped facilities, or addressing increased violence in schools nationwide.

But how to determine the class clowns from the star jocks? The freaks from the geeks? The Pretty in Pink Molly Ringwald from the The Breakfast Club Molly Ringwald? We’re sending all the candidates back to school in the 2006 Election Guide and grading them on some of the most important issues in each race.

One should pass and one should fail. But, in the grand South Carolina tradition, there are a few races where a candidate will be “passed on” to the next grade as the better of two unexceptional students.

Regardless of one’s party affiliation (or lack thereof), we’re all responsible for sending our politicians into the fray with the more than 50 percent support they need. Want better schools, equitable taxes, personal freedoms? Then pull the lever (or push the button) on Nov. 7.

Disclaimer: The endorsements here were compiled by the City Paper’s editors and writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


Governor • Sanford thinks he's set, but he's not the man

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Mark Sanford (R - incum.)

Job: Governor
Political Experience: Governor, 02-present; U.S. House of Rep., 94-00
Endorsements: NRA Political Victory Fund, National Taxpayers Union Campaign Fund, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, The National Federation of Independent, Business's Safe Trust, SC Club for Growth PAC, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, The Sierra Club

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Tommy Moore (D)

Job: Business owner
Political Experience: State House of Representatives, 78-80; State Senate, 80-present
Endorsements: The State newspaper, The South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, The South Carolina Education Association, The (Rock Hill) Herald

Teacher comments

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Business: There have been some big regional successes under Gov. Mark Sanford's watch, but Democratic Sen. Tommy Moore contends that more could have been done in the last four years by properly funding the Department of Commerce. The proof may be in the numbers: In Jan. 2003, South Carolina's unemployment rate was at 6.4 percent. Four years later, the number has returned from peaking at 7.2 percent to 6.4 percent in September. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate has fallen from 5.8 percent in 2003 to 4.6 percent in September.

Political Science: As an independent thinker, Sanford scores big, but as a consensus builder, the man's talents are lacking. From having pooping pigs clutched under each arm in the Statehouse lobby to years of vetoes on local priorities, Sanford has riled liberals and conservatives in the Statehouse. Apparently things got so bad this year that he just threw up his hands and vetoed the whole budget.

Education: It's tuition tax credits, stupid – Sanford has unrelentingly pushed to put public money into private schools. Supporters have taken great pains to pull this issue away from vouchers, but giving parents the money to give to private schools is the same thing as giving money to private schools, and it would be to the detriment of the public school system. Moore supports school choice and offers up charter schools as an innovative alternative to traditional schools that keeps some oversight in the public realm.

History: Neither candidate can claim to be anti-establishment. Sanford continues to highlight shorter lines at the DMV as a crowning achievement of a four-year term, and Moore's 28 years in the Statehouse don't speak well for any reformist agenda.

Final exam: Moore is "passed on." Sanford fails. Moore's got a few solid ideas, but it's hard to believe a man that entrenched in Columbia will really be shaking things up. That said, Moore will likely have a better run at cooperation and consensus building than Sanford's been able to accomplish.


Lieutenant Governor • Busy Barber ready to take Bauer's car keys

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Andre Bauer (R - incum.)

Job: Businessman, Lt. Gov.
Political Experience: S.C. House of Representatives, 97-99; State Senate, 99-02; Lt. Governor,03-present
Endorsements: NRA Political Victory Fund, The (Rock Hill) Herald

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Robert Barber (D)

Job: Restaurant owner
Political Experience: Charleston County School Board, 84-88; State House of Representatives, 89-94
Endorsements: The State newspaper, The Sierra Club, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, The South Carolina Education Association, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News

Teacher comments

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Aging: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer notes changes he's overseen in the Council on Aging, but the candidates seem to have similar views on the future of the council and the improved services that will be necessary in the next few years.

Extra credit: Democrat Robert Barber says he's ready to expand the part-time position to become an advocate for job creation in South Carolina. "As long as we're number two in unemployment in the country, I'll consider it a full-time job," Barber says. As for Bauer, he's already whining about the workload. "I don't know where they'd find the time," he says. "I don't know how you can take on any more."

Recreation: Barber is going to have his work cut out for him as he looks to rebuild his family restaurant (Bowens Island) as well as the responsibilities of the office. As for Bauer, we're not holding the dodged speeding tickets or the crashed plane against him, because who hasn't crashed their private plane and tried to get out of a more than 100 mph speeding ticket by proclaiming he's "S.C. 2?"

Final exam: Barber passes. Bauer fails. Barber provides a vision for the office that goes beyond waiting for a chance to be S.C. 1. Plus, he gets extra credit for Bowens Island.


Treasurer • Patterson's experience outweighs Ravenel's energy

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Thomas Ravenel (R)

Job: Business Developer
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The State newspaper, SC Club for Growth PAC, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, NRA Political Victory Fund

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Grady Patterson (D - incum.)

Job: State treasurer
Political Experience: Treasurer, 66-94 and 98-present
Endorsements: The South Carolina Education Association, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News

Teacher comments

Business: Ravenel obviously has business savvy, but Patterson's been in the role for 36 years and guided bipartisan efforts to control state spending and protect state savings.

Modernization: Ravenel promises to bring the office into the 21st century. Patterson says it's already there.

Political science: As the story goes, Patterson accepted the role as a favor four decades ago and hadn't thought much of politics. On the other hand, this is Ravenel's second grab in the cookie jar. It was only two years ago that Ravenel considered the Senate the best place for his talents. Now it's the treasurer's office? Excuse us if it sounds like a stepping stone for some higher aspiration from the son of former U.S. Rep. Arthur Ravenel Jr., who appears elsewhere on this election round-up.

Biology: Where age would be an asset in most any race as an indicator of experience, Patterson is at the advanced age of 82. Patterson's efforts to avoid debating Ravenel likely go further than concerns of appearance against a young, good-looking, energetic opponent.

Final exam: Patterson passes. Ravenel fails. The state treasurer is a leadership role and Patterson has provided that in spades over the years. We'll bet he's got four more good years in him, but that may be it. And as one of the few Democrats in statewide office (and possibly the only one after November), there's some value to having a foil on tuition tax credits and other backwards initiatives. Ravenel shouldn't be upset, though. He really doesn't want the job anyway, does he?


Education Superintendent • Rex provides classroom experience to match reform agenda

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Karen Floyd (R)

Job: Owns public relations and marketing firm
Political Experience: Spartanburg County Council, 1999-2003
Endorsements: SC Club for Growth PAC, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Jim Rex (D)

Job: Retired 30-year educator
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The South Carolina Education Association, The (Rock Hill) Herald

Teacher comments

Education: Democrat Jim Rex has 30 years of experience in public education, serving in every role from football coach to college administrator. Karen Floyd's worked as a lawyer and a judge and now owns a public relations firm. She says avoiding the classroom since she graduated makes her a worthy outsider. Funny how that's a selling point only in politics. You know, we've never held a hammer, but we'll build your house.

Philosophy: Both candidates recognize that reforms will be necessary, including a shared understanding that the state's testing program needs to be retooled to make it more relevant. Each has positive ideas for change and to the victor should go the best ideas of his/her opponent.

Optometry: Rex has about as unique a vision as any candidate running in any race this election year. As a coach, Rex says he saw the effectiveness of coaches investing years in their students, coordinating programs and encouraging progress with positive investment by parents. As for Floyd, her vision is...

Tuition Tax Credits: Again, it's a deal breaker. As Rex put it, "This isn't a Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola choice." Floyd has tried her darnedest to avoid the question and has said she'll consider a wide variety of options that include putting public money toward private school tuition. But she's clear on her website: "I support giving public dollars back to the original source: Parents and taxpayers. Parents deserve the opportunity to choose the best school for their children, whether that's a public, private, or religious-based school." But what about parents that don't care what school their children go to or don't have the income to get the tax credit? The entire debate on tax credits has wasted the time and resources that could have been spent fixing our public schools.

Final Exam: Rex passes. Floyd fails. Jim Rex provides enthusiasm and an understanding of the school system as well as a positive direction for change. Rex will do what's best for students and, more importantly, he will not abandon public schools and strip them of their much-needed funding.


Agriculture Commissioner • Weathers' connections outgrow strong opposition

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Hugh Weathers (R - incum.)

Job: Co-owner of Weathers Farms
Political Experience: Appointed commissioner in 2004
Endorsements: The State newspaper, The Greenville News, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Emile DeFelice (D)

Job: Farmer
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The (Rock Hill) Herald, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, The Sierra Club

Teacher comments

Alternative energy: Both candidates are on board to reduce the amount of oil South Carolinians are dependent on. Weathers has been encouraging ethanol production, albeit in a car most people can't afford. DeFelice highlights real concerns about the competition for food and fuel, but also sees that the issue will probably be one of the most important for the state and the country in the next few decades.

Small farmers: As a self-made farmer, DeFelice has the experience here, having fostered a small crop in his backyard into a more than 100-acre farm. His campaign has focused on "putting your state on your plate" and his efforts to awaken the everyman's inner farmer shows his passion for the job.

Big farmers: Weathers comes from a family of large-scale farmers and he's shown he's got a clear understanding of the larger problems plaguing farmers in South Carolina. Noting that farmers get only about 18 cents on the dollar for their goods from grocers, Weathers' promise to seek more funding is laudable.

Final exam: Weathers passes. DeFelice fails. The State newspaper said it best when it pined for the opportunity to pick both. When it comes down to ability to get the job done, Weathers wins out. DeFelice has terrific ideas and an evident passion, but Weathers already has the ear of the industry.


6th Congressional District • Clyburn most likely to succeed

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James "Jim" Clyburn (D - incum.)

Job: Retired S.C. Human Affairs commissioner
Political Experience: U.S. House of Representatives, 1993-present
Endorsements: The Post and Courier

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Gary McCleod (R)

Job: Former dairy farmer
Political Experience: None



Teacher comments

Foreign Policy: Both candidates recognize the need for change in Iraq. Clyburn wants a new direction for America's role in Iraq and McCleod wants us to "whoop up" some folks and get out of there.

Economy: Clyburn's concern is keeping Social Security solvent. McCleod wants to abolish federal taxes and replace them with consumption taxes like sales tax.

Government: Seeing an often overreaching hand of the federal government, McCleod wants to get rid of most federal programs and return them to the responsibilities of the individual states.

Minimum wage: Clyburn wants to increase the minimum wage. McCleod wants to abolish the minimum wage to make the market more competitive.

Final exam: Clyburn passes. McCleod fails. McCleod says the Republican Party doesn't want him to win, and some of his ideas make us think he's probably right. While power shouldn't be a sole determiner, it's important to note that Clyburn's experience in the Congress puts him in play for one of the House leadership positions, possibly House Democratic whip.


1st Congressional District • Brown's party lines run flat against Maatta

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Henry Brown (R - incumb.)

Job: Retired Piggly Wiggly executive
Political Experience: U.S. House of Representatives, 2000-present; State House of Representatives, 1985-2000; Hanahan City Council, 81-85
Endorsements: NRA Political Victory Fund, The Post and Courier

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Randy Maatta (D - Working Families)

Job: Former U.S. State Department project manager
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The Sierra Club

Teacher comments

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Foreign Policy: Undeniably, America's next step in Iraq is the most important issue in the campaign. To say things haven't gone as planned is an understatement. Brown says Democrats are looking to "cut and run." It's encouraging that even Republicans like Brown are using words like "exit strategy," but you have to wonder if they really are tired of this crap or if they just recognize that a majority of Americans are. Randy Maatta and other Democrats aren't looking to roll up the tents Nov. 8, but they want a clear vision from this administration on how to get America out of this mess while giving Iraq the best chance for success.

Economy: Brown says the economy is strong. Look at the stock market and housing numbers, he says. Well, if you don't have stock or a mortgage or millions of dollars of inheritance, there's little for you to see through the rose-colored glasses. Maatta says out-of-control spending isn't an urban myth, it's a Republican reality.

Immigration: Fixing the immigration problem requires a reasoned conversation among legislators who can come to reasoned conclusions. Sending all the illegal immigrants back or building a fence may sound like great politics, but they're both practical nightmares. Maatta says he's ready to sit down and find solutions, including targeting employers of illegal immigrants who are encouraging the problem. Brown is an old man towing the Republican party line.

Minimum wage: It's likely the issue that sums up the "do-nothing Congress." North Carolina stepped out and increased its minimum wage, but South Carolina officials say they're still scared a hike in the minimum wage will drive business elsewhere. Regardless of what the Republicans say, they've been the foils in raising the minimum wage nationwide to avoid those local competition concerns. Democrats in Congress finally got the support they needed for minimum wage hikes last year. So the Republicans decided to tack on the one thing that Democrats couldn't vote for, a permanent repeal of the estate tax. What the whole ordeal highlighted was that the Republicans aren't as concerned with a fair wage as they are with tax cuts for the wealthy. Maatta says that a Democratic Congress will have a minimum wage bill on the president's desk within two weeks.

Final exam: Maatta passes. Brown fails. Well, we could give some snide comment that at least we've seen Maatta, but it's more important in this race to highlight the fact that Democrats are looking to get things done, while Republicans are spinning their wheels.


S.C. House District 115 • Platt wins out in personal race

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Wallace Scarborough(R - incumb.)

Job: Atlantic Coast Life Insurance Co.
Political Experience: State House member since 2001
Endorsements: NRA Political Victory Fund, The Post and Courier

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Eugene Platt (D)

Job: Retired from U.S. government
Political Experience: James Island Public Service District Commission since 1993
Endorsements: The Sierra Club

Teacher comments

Development: Platt's got a problem with new people. He says that he's had about all the transplanters he can stand. "Nashville. Omaha. Des Moines. Nice places. People should be encouraged to stay there." To say he would closely restrict development would likely be an understatement.

Taxes: Scarborough has said he supports further income tax cuts and opposes increasing the cigarette tax. Platt says income taxes are part of a balanced, three-legged tax system with sales and property taxes. He supports increasing the cigarette tax, one of the lowest in the country.

Tuition Tax Credits: Yep, that one again. Scarborough told the P&C that he supports some sort of voucher program for students attending private schools. Platt says he questions the value in subsidizing private schools.

Character: Scarborough has been upset that recent personal events have provided much of the press on this campaign. Those events include Scarborough firing a weapon during an altercation with two South Carolina Electric and Gas employees and accusations in divorce filings that he had an affair with Rep. Catherine Ceips (R-Beaufort). Platt has claimed that Scarborough's initial denial of the affair in The State newspaper puts Scarborough's character into question. Scarborough has since refused to confirm or deny the affair.

Final exam: Platt is "passed on." Scarborough fails. We grudgingly send Platt on to the next grade, though noting his vociferous, though moot, support for the gay marriage amendment as a particular sticking point. That said, one can hope that when he goes to Columbia, he'll be there to work for James Island, and not for Ceips' district.


S.C. House District 119 • Stavrinakis will take leadership, bipartisanship to Columbia

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Suzanne Piper (R)

Job: Realtor and appraiser
Political Experience: None



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Leon Stavrinakis (D)

Job: Lawyer
Political Experience: Charleston County Council since 1998, chair since 2004
Endorsements: Conservation Voters of South Carolina, The Post and Courier

Teacher comments

Taxes: Piper says no new taxes and wants to further reduce property taxes, though she's not very sure how. Stavrinakis has been a long-time supporter of a 15-percent cap on reassessments and supports a sales tax swap, though he's worried about how schools will be funded under the legislation approved earlier this year.

Experience: Neither candidate has sat in the House, but Stavrinakis has spent eight years on the Charleston County Council, including two years as council chair. Piper has noted that she's been actively involved with the Sea Island Republican Women but has held no elected office before.

Partisanship: Basically, Piper is all for it and Stavrinakis says he wants no part of it. Piper's been using what appears to be a Republican mantra in this election cycle: Republicans have the majority so they can get things done. Stavrinakis has noted the bipartisan support he's received for his campaign and his experience working with Republicans and Democrats for solutions.

Education: Stavrinakis is calling for at least 65 percent of school funding to go to the classroom. Piper has noted that Stavrinakis' plan was first introduced by a Republican. Surprisingly, that Republican could not get it passed in a Republican controlled House. (Assignment: Reread Partisanship)

Political Science: At one of the only opportunities to see the two candidates debate, Piper attacked Stavrinakis' plans for reforms by noting that Republicans had introduced similar legislation in the past that was on the books. Her proof? Each said "this takes effect with the signature of the governor." Well, every bill includes that language when its introduced, regardless of it's chances for success. Asked afterward if she knew how a bill became a law, she stumbled through an answer that was mostly accurate. (Assignment for Piper: Dig up Schoolhouse Rock: "I'm Just a Bill.")

Final exam: Stavrinakis passes. Piper fails. Stavrinakis has upset members of his own party on the tax cap and on the marriage amendment, but it shows an ability to come to his own conclusions. Meanwhile, Piper seems narrowly obsessed with Republican solutions to the state's problems and apparently convinced that Republicans and Democrats can't work together for the betterment of Charleston. We think she's wrong.


County Council District 2 • McMackin's green thumb a welcome addition

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Dickie Schweers (R)

Job: Santee Cooper
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The Post and Courier

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Jane McMackin (D)

Job: Retired advertising and marketing executive
Political Experience: Isle of Palms Town Council since 2004

Teacher comments

Experience: Democrat McMackin says her time on the Isle of Palms Town Council makes her better prepared for County Council. Republican Schweers doesn't have the political experience, but he's a lifelong resident of Charleston with solid roots in the community.

Growth: McMackin stresses consistency in development agreements while Schweers notes Charleston County needs to foster regional planning.

Recreation: A strong supporter of bike and pedestrian trails on Isle of Palms, McMackin says she'll continue to call for walking trails.

Conservation: Schweers helped craft county guidelines for preserving property through the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004. McMackin says those properties purchased should provide some recreational value for Charleston residents. "We need interactive greenspace, not just greenspace to look at," she says.

Final exam: McMackin passes. Schweers fails. McMackin's vision on walking trails is on the right track and, while her time on the town council has been relatively brief, it shouldn't be shortchanged.


County Council District 1 • McKeown should get chance to prove himself

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Joe McKeown (R - incumb.)

Job: Allstate insurance agent and financial representative
Political Experience: County Council since May; Mt. Pleasant Town Council, 2004-2006
Endorsements: The Post and Courier

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Steven Goldberg (D)

Job: Steinberg Law Firm LLP
Political Experience: None

Teacher comments

Teamwork: Democratic challenger Steven Goldberg notes the County Council has struggled recently to incorporate municipal concerns in some decisions. McKeown concedes more work needs to be done to include municipal leaders in decisions.

Growth: Goldberg has also been critical of his opponent's support for high-density development, but McKeown says that Charlestonians will have to make tough decisions if they want workforce housing near where people work. "You can't complain about sprawl and not make allowances for high density," McKeown says. "You've got to pick your poison."

Development agreements: Goldberg is also critical (seeing a pattern here) of development agreements that delay construction of a library in northern Mount Pleasant. The development agreement was approved by Mt. Pleasant Town Council while McKeown was a member. McKeown notes that the library will come once the development reaches a certain size and that the free land and money donated by the developer were negotiated by the town even though libraries are a county responsibility.

Final exam: McKeown passes. Goldberg fails. These two already went at it this summer and Goldberg lost. Let the people's choice have time to disappoint us. McKeown will have to make good on his vision of well-placed affordable housing or we'll be crawling back to Goldberg in 2010.


County Council District 9 • Tempel's years sideline Thurmond political legacy

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Paul Thurmond (R)

Job: Lawyer, ice cream franchise owner
Political Experience: None

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George Tempel (D)

Job: Retired professor and research scientist at the Medical University of South Carolina
Political Experience: None
Endorsements: The Post and Courier

Teacher comments

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James Island: Both candidates support the island's recent incorporation and question the county's planned charges for police protection and planning services.

Taxes: In one of the sharper differences, Thurmond says adding just a fraction of a penny to the sales tax could eliminate county property taxes on residential homes while letting tourists further contribute to county coffers. Tempel sees the sales tax as regressive, impacting low-income and middle-class homes the most.

Efficiencey: Thurmond wants to improve the CARTA bus system to make it a more acceptable alternative for residents. Tempel has taken up Sheriff Al Cannon's suggestion to consolidate municipal police services under the county's umbrella. "We've done it with EMS," he says. "I truly believe the effect on law enforcement would be dramatically improved."

Experience: Tempel notes his 30 years in the community, compared to Thurmond's three. That said, Thurmond's excitement for the campaign is hard to ignore.

Final exam: Tempel passes. Thurmond fails. Either candidate would likely be a strong choice for County Council and they've both noted they agree on many issues. In the end, the decision between two untested candidates comes down to experience.


Charleston County School Board • Better odds for accountability with cooperation

Okay, one more time. We're taking this extra effort because voting for the school board is confusing. Charleston County School Board is sort of broken up into districts. While board members are elected to represent those districts, every candidate is elected on a countywide ballot. Here's the rundown of the races and our take on the candidates:

East Cooper (pick 2): Robin Beard, Gregg Meyers, Arthur Ravenel Jr., and Susan Simons

Downtown (Pick 1): Doug Berger, Jo Anne Cannon, Toya Hampton Green, Lurline Fishburne, and Marian Mentavlos

North Area (Pick 1): Ray Toler

West Ashley (Pick 1): Sandi Engelman, Ruth Jordan, Kay Kernodle, and Ann Oplinger

A+ Star pupils: Gregg Meyers, Susan Simons, Marian Mentavlos, Ruth Jordan

All of these candidates support the district's Charleston Plan for Excellence and see the value in giving the plan more time to show results.

• Gregg Meyers: A school board veteran, Meyers supports Maria Goodloe-Johnson, opposes tuition tax credits, and recommends offering incentives to get high-quality teachers and administrators into troubled schools.

• Susan Simons: At a recent debate, Simons got applause for her challenge to critics that the board doesn't take a sharp enough look at the budget. She's been an outspoken supporter for giving the Plan for Excellence a chance to work.

• Marian Mentavlos: She's a former district official and has made it her mission to get into every school in the district to seek out struggles and successes in each classroom.

• Ruth Jordan: Jordan has been a tireless campaigner ready to offer up vast changes from incumbent Sandi Engelman's reign. As a black woman, she would also be able to shore up a minority perspective that's much needed on the board.

C Average students: Doug Berger, Jo Anne Cannon, Toya Hampton Green, Kay Kernodle, and Ann Oplinger

These candidates have all shown a passion for the campaign and would make decent board members.

• Doug Berger: He's been a leader on parental concerns in District 20. His suggestion that schools receive extra funding for struggling students to encourage the schools to keep these students is a terrific idea. "You fund each student instead of funding the schools," he says.

• Jo Anne Cannon: Her effort to follow in her late husband's footsteps is commendable and she's proven to be a unique, independent thinker.

• Toya Hampton Green: The fact that she's raised more money than any of the other candidates, including the collected A-Team, is an indication of her support in the community. Like other candidates for District 20, Hampton Green's showed a passion for focusing on improving low-performing schools.

• Kay Kernodle: She's a straight-talker with her own unique perspective on solutions, including tuition tax credits for parents who send their kids to public schools.

• Ann Oplinger: Her experience as an educator and passion for getting out into the schools would make her a worthy board member if two were needed from West Ashley.

F Detention: Sandi Engelman and the A-Team (Arthur Ravenel Jr., Robin Beard, Ray Toler, and Lurline Fishburne)

Engelman is outspoken and, bless her heart, that's not a bad thing. Her point of view has been clear since the race began. Unfortunately for her, it's her views that are getting her in trouble. Her recent gaffes on the radio and her constant combative tone would lead no one to believe we're looking at a consensus builder here. That is, unless she had like-minded people on the board. Enter the A-Team. Perceptions that the team will bring partisanship onto the school board, fire Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and chart yet another new course for the district have persisted because the team's done little to refute the suggestions. What they call "accountability," we call "micro-managing."

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• Sandi Engelman: For the two people that haven't heard the story, Engelman claimed on a radio program that Goodloe-Johnson was constantly on "CPT." While many consider the term to mean "Colored People's Time," Engelman says it means "Certain People's Time." While "certain people" are calling for her ouster, Engelman recently reflected back on the whole furor as "free press."

• Arthur Ravenel Jr.: When Ravenel says he wants to help Goodloe-Johnson, he gets laughter from district supporters. Nobody's fooled, Arthur. We'll give Engelman one thing, she's honest about her intentions.

• Robin Beard: The other former Congressman looking to come out of retirement. Beard is looking for increased oversight on the board, but has few answers when pressed for proposed solutions.

• Ray Toler: Rates the Charleston Plan for Excellence "below average" and says Goodloe-Johnson needs to earn her paycheck. Toler heads toward election day unopposed, almost assuring at least 25 percent success for the A-Team.

• Lurline Fishburne: In the past few months, Fishburne has been an impassioned advocate for District 20 schools. While some have suggested Fishburne's recent attention is politically motivated, her promises for change are commendable. Unfortunately for Fishburne, this final exam is based on the company she keeps.


Other school district endorsements:

• The nonprofit Blue Ribbon Committee

Gregg Meyers

Susan Simons

Toya Hampton Green

Ruth Jordan

• The Business Advocating Change political action committee

Gregg Meyers

Susan Simons

Toya Hampton Green

Ann Oplinger


CONSTITUENT BOARDS

Usually when "Charleston" and "unique" are used in the same sentence, it brings a smile to everyone's face. Not so when that sentence includes constituent boards, Charleston County's unique effort to maintain little fiefdoms when the county's eight school districts were consolidated in 1967. Local legislators are promising to head to Columbia next year to try to put the constituent boards into more of an advocacy role instead of the bureaucratic oversight the boards now hold on transfers and teacher hiring.

In Districts 3 and 4, there are seats without candidates to fill them and there's just enough to fill the seats up for election in districts 1, 10, and 23. But in a busy election season, the problem for candidates in districts like District 20 on the peninsula is getting their names out to voters. Incumbents Marvin Stewart, Mauri Haynes-Jones, and Christopher Ellis are on the ballot, but Leroy Connors has decided not to run for reelection.

Here's a list of the contested races:

District 2 – Moultrie

One at-large seat: Craig Ascue, Kevin Crothers, Paul Truluck

District 9 – St. John's

Four seats: Renea Brown Bligen, Angel Jones, Calvin Morris, Andrea Murray, Naquita Page, Sharon Sissy Robinson

District 20 – City of Charleston

Four seats: Ida Jackson Ascue, Susan Guerard Cale, Christopher Ellis, Thuane Fielding, Shamekei Gray, Mauri Haynes-Jones, Marvin Stewart


Notes from the bathroom wall

What's a candidate for statewide office supposed to do when he can't get any press for his campaign? Well, you start slinging mud. God bless Democrat Drew Theodore: he wasn't really slinging mud, just honestly reporting a lapse in judgement by incumbent S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. The gaffe became the opening segment for Saturday Night Live this season and, unable to defend himself, Eckstrom started digging through Theodore's closet. What followed can only be summed up on the bathroom wall.

Eckstrom used a state van to go on Minnesota vacation and paid for his gas with a state credit card. (No, really) – D.T.

Theodore had two failed businesses and didn't pay his taxes. – R.E. Theodore says the business was his in-law's.

Eckstrom's CPA license expired in 2002. – D.T.

Theodore isn't even a CPA. – R.E.

Eckstrom intimidates women. – D.T.

Eckstrom says not true.

Eckstrom wasted money on office renovations. – D.T. Eckstrom says he's cut waste from the office and left his personal office untouched.

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