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Timmons withdraws from BOE chairman's race

Democrat Teresa Timmons has pulled out of the race for chairman of the Bryan County Board of Education, leaving incumbent Amy Murphy, a Republican, and independent Kate Strickland to face one another in the November election.

Timmons, a Richmond Hill real estate agent, cited personal reasons for her decision to withdraw her candidacy. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and received 1,476 votes.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported me in the primary by voting for me,” she said in an email, adding, “I will place my support and assistance with the other Democratic candidates running for Bryan Count Board of Education.”

Those candidates, Melissa Alewine of District 1, Walteria Maine of District 4 and Patricia Hewett of District 5, will face Republicans in the general election. All but Alewine face an incumbent; she will face Shawn Page, a Pembroke Republican who edged out Pamela Gunter by a 618-572 margin, according to official results.

Other Republican incumbents on the school board won their primaries easily. Murphy, a longtime school board member seeking her second term as chairwoman, outpolled challenger Scott Novinksi 3,991-1,825, winning nearly 69 percent of votes. District 4 incumbent Marianne Smith, another longtime board member, received over 69 percent of the votes to beat challenger Rebecca Ricker, 1,182-519.

District 5 incumbent David Schwartz, also a longtime school board member, won a three-way race handily, getting more than 64 percent of the vote to best Lisa Fernandez and Gilbert Toriano.

Unlike four years ago, when incumbents had no opposition – Gunter was the only first-time candidate and replaced Paine Bacon, who stepped off the board, and Murphy’s predecessor, Eddie Warren, decided not to run again – this time they faced challenges in the primary from candidates questioning everything from the board’s transparency to its management of superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher to curriculum. The number of candidates involved in the primary election was seen by many as a local manifestation of national issues roiling school boards, as parents first challenged mask mandates and later began questioning curriculum and issues surrounding gender and bullying.

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