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Democrats, Republicans announce endorsed candidates for school boards

CHARLESTON COUNTY, South Carolina – In fewer than six weeks, Charleston County voters will make the most substantial changes to the school board in years. Every seat is up for election, with only three incumbents seeking re-election.

Wednesday marked the unveiling of the Charleston County Republican Party’s endorsements for the board.

Candidates backed by the GOP for the district:

D1 – Keith S Grybowski
D2 – Ed Kelley
Kevin Hollinshead is D4
Carlotte Bailey – D5
D6 – Runyon, Lee
D8 – Darlene Dunmeyer
D9 – Forrest Bjork
*there are no endorsed candidates in D3 or D7

Charleston GOP Chairman Maurice Washington stated, “We are hearing from dozens and dozens of people every day who want to know whether we are screening or endorsing candidates because we are not hearing or knowing enough about them to make sound decisions.” “I believe that an endorsement from the Charleston County Republican Party is as significant as one from the Democratic Party, Moms for Liberty, or the Coalition for Kids. I consider us to be among the elite.”

The party distributed a questionnaire to all candidates earlier this month to gauge their stance on conservative issues. Some of these inquiries concerned student discourse regarding gender identity, Critical Race Theory, and systematic racism. According to Washington, the survey was part of their screening procedure.

“We did incorporate narratives that have dominated boardrooms across the United States, diverting attention from the education of our children,” added Washington. “We must move away from these divisive, controversial issues and begin focusing on the actual goal of school systems and school boards – educating our children.”

Similarly, the Charleston County Democratic Party has revealed their slate of “very qualified” candidates; but, party bylaws prohibit them from making official endorsements in non-partisan elections.

The Charleston County Democratic Party backed the following candidates:

D1 – Doyle Costello
D2 – Sarah Shad Johnson
Chris Collins – D3
Kevin Hollinshead is D4
D5 – ViVian Pettigrew
D6 – Runyon, Lee
D7 – Sydney Van Bulck
D8 – Darlene Dunmeyer
D9 – Carol Tempel

Wednesday, Democratic Party Chair Greg Perry confirmed the identities. He expresses the hope that the announcement will increase interest in the races and motivate people to conduct further research on the candidates.

Kevin Hollinshead in District 4, Lee Runyon in District 6, and Darlene Dunmeyer in District 8 were the three candidates who received the endorsement of both parties. Prior to being defeated in 2020, Hollinshead served as a district board member. Runyon is a former principal of West Ashley High School. A native of Hollywood, Dunmeyer is challenging incumbent Helen Frazier.

Neither major party endorses any of the three existing board members: Courtney Waters (D4), Erica Cokley (D6), or Frazier (D8)

Other groups are also voicing their support, including Moms for Liberty, a parent organization whose popularity grew in response to epidemic school restrictions. Earlier in the week, the conservative organization announced its candidates.

Moms for Liberty endorsed the following candidates:

D1 – Keith S Grybowski
D2 – Ed Kelley
D3 – Pam McKinney
Carlotte Bailey – D5
D6 – Runyon, Lee
Leah Whatley – D7
D8 — Travis Bedson
D9 – Forrest Bjork
*no candidates endorsed in D4

Tara Wood, from the Charleston chapter of Moms for Liberty, asserts that their program is centered on giving parents a larger role in their children’s education.

Before the November 8 elections, additional endorsements are anticipated, including those of the South Carolina Education Association and Coalition for Kids.

All district candidates:

Section 1:

Doyle Costello
Miguel Figueroa (withdrew)
Keith S Grybowski

2nd District:

Grace Cowan Bouldin
Seana J Flynn
Sarah Shad Johnson
Ed Kelley
EJ Milligan
Catherine Moffly
Mike Lyons (withdrew)
A. Barry Slayden (withdrew)

Section 3:

John Collins
Kristen French (I)
Donna McKinney
Emily Peele
John Ravenell

4th District:

Michael Hollinshead
She is Courtney Waters (I)

5th District:

Catherine Bailey
Melissa Couture
ViVian Sheppard Pettigrew

Sixth District:

Erica Cokley (I)
Lee Runyon
Robert Thome
William Whatley

7th District:

Happy Brown
Jen Mieras
Sydney Van Bulck
The phrase Leah A. Whatley

District Eight:

Justin Bedson
Helen Davis-Frazier (I)
Kimberly Doughty (withdrew)
Darlene Dunmeyer
Dorothea Johnson
(I) Eric Mack (withdrew)

District Nine

Forrest Bjork
Graham Smith
Carol Tempel

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