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Morton, Smith vie for school board seat
Nov. 6 includes special election for District 4
Marianne Smith-BoE
Marianne Smith

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of surveys answered by candidates in the November general election.

In addition to the general election, voters in the county’s fourth district, south of Richmond Hill city limits, will be casting ballots in a special election to decide who will represent them on the Board of Education for the next four years.
Current Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Morton and political newcomer Marianne Smith both seek the seat and have an interest in making sure that school system maintains and enhances the educational opportunities it offers to students.
 The seat was vacated by Joe Pecenka, who is running unopposed for the vice chairman seat in the general election. Pecenka no longer lives within District 4 after new lines were drawn following census population changes.
Because Pecenka’s term is unexpired, the race for District 4 is considered a special election even though it is being held during the general election.
While Smith has no political experience, she is a firm believer in making sure all students receive quality education. She would like to see more focus put in vocational education for students who aren’t necessarily planning to attend college to make sure they are prepared for a career.
Morton has served on the Board of Education for the past six years. He said he has enjoyed working with community members during his time on the board. He believes the growth of Bryan County Schools is an important issue and would like to continue working to make sure the growth is met with new facilities.
Early voting is underway from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Nov. 2 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Voter Registration Office in Pembroke and the County Administrative Complex in Richmond Hill. For more information about voting, call the Voter Registration Office at 653-3859.

Jeff Morton
Bryan County Board of Education District 4
Age: 49 years old  
Contact information: E-mail:; phone: 727-2406.
Family: Wife — Renee’ and two sons, Scott and Charles.
Work experience: Banker: 28 years, Commercial Lender at Bryan Bank & Trust.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration-finance from Georgia Southern University.
Civic activities: Small group leader, Savannah Christian Church; past school council member at George Washington Carver Elementary and Richmond Hill Middle School.
Political experience: Six years on the Bryan County Board of Education.
Why are you running?: I have enjoyed the people of Bryan County for the past six years as a representative and vice chairman of the Bryan County school board. It is essential for Bryan County to provide a quality education for the kids. I feel my experience will be an asset to Bryan County and the school board. Having a quality school system is very important to this area. A majority of the people that move to this area come because of the school system. This benefits not only the kids but the community and businesses in this area.

Marianne Smith
Bryan County Board of Education District 4
Age: 40 years old
Address: 76 Wysteria Drive, Richmond Hill, Ga. 31324.
Family: I have been married for 15 years to John Smith. He is a State Farm Insurance agent in Savannah. We moved from Savannah to Richmond Hill 8 1/2 years ago because of the schools. We have two little girls. Hannah is 9 and in the fourth grade at Carver Elementary, and Peyton is 7 and in the second grade at Richmond Hill Elementary.
Work experience: I have been a registered nurse for 17 1/2 years. I have worked at Memorial University Medical Center for nine years. I work part time so I can be home with my children. Before that I worked in an outpatient surgery center for Savannah Plastic Surgery Associates. I have also worked at Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center in Brunswick for two years before I married and moved to Savannah.
Education background: I received my Associate of Science in nursing in 1995. Then I went back to school and received my Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2002.
Civic activities: I served on the Richmond Hill Primary School Council for three years. I am very active in the schools as a volunteer. I am a member of the SMA Angels Charity Inc. as a volunteer to help raise money to find a cure for spinal muscular atrophy.
Political Experience: none
Why are you running for office? I believe a local board of education has one of the most important responsibilities — that is helping plan the education of the children in our community. I simply want to do my part in making sure that the kids are put first when making any decision. I want to be a voice for the children, the parents, the teachers and for our community.

Read more about the BOE candidates in the Oct. 17 edition of the News.

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