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School board races to be crowded
Democrats, independent join bid to unseat four incumbents on Bryan BOE

Not one challenger ran against an incumbent on the school board in 2018. What a difference four years and a pandemic makes.

Every incumbent on the Bryan County Board of Education will face at least one challenger in the Republican primary in May, and whoever wins then will advance to meet a Democrat – and potentially an independent – in the November general election.

Incumbent Chairman Amy Murphy, as well as incumbents Pam Gunter in District 1, Marianne Smith in District 4 and District 5’s David Schwartz have all qualified to run again.

Republican challengers so far include Scott Novinksi, who is seeking the chairmanship; Shawn Page is running in District 1; Rebecca Ricker in District 4 and Toriano Gilbert and Lisa Fernandez in District 5.

Democrats who’ve qualified to run will be unopposed in the primary. They are Teresa Simmons, who is running for board chairman; Melissa Alewine is running for District 1; Walteria Maine is running for District 4 and Patricia Hewitt qualified to run for the District 5 seat, according to Bryan County Elections Supervisor Cindy Reynolds.

In addition, local nurse practitioner Kate Strickland, a parent, qualified to launch a petition to be on the ballot in November as an independent. She hopes to run for chairman.

To run in November Strickland has until July 12 to get signatures from 5 percent of the county’s registered voters at the time of the last election in 2018, or 1,286 signatures, by July 12.

County commissioners unopposed District 2 incumbent Wade Price and District 5 commissioner Dr. Gene Wallace, DMD, have qualified as Republicans and will be seeking new terms. Patrick Kisgen, Jr., has qualified as a Republican to fill the District 4 seat being vacated by Andrew Johnson, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term left by Brad Brookshire. Brookshire stepped down in August because he moved out of the district.

Johnson agreed when he was appointed not to run for another term because incumbency would give him an unfair advantage over potential challengers, according to commissioners.

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