LAURINBURG — The race for seats on the Scotland County Board of Education got its first contender on Thursday with the filing of Karen James.
James is a native of Brooklyn, New York, where she worked as an assistant teacher, and a 20-year resident of Scotland County. She will run for one of three open school board seats representing the Stewartsville township.
“I’ve lived in this county, I’ve substituted, I’ve volunteered, and I’m looking at what we’re going through and I’m looking at the direction our children are going in, and I don’t completely agree with it. I think we can do better,” she said.
James has worked as a substitute teacher in the Scotland County Schools, has volunteered as a guardian ad litem and with victims of domestic violence, and runs the Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church youth mentoring camp.
Opposed to the board’s closure earlier this year of Pate-Gardner Elementary in Gibson and Washington Park Elementary in Laurinburg, James said that she has reservations about the board’s plan to close even more schools and build new ones in their stead.
“We’re talking about building these big beautiful schools, but you’re not putting anything in the schools,” said James. “Our children have to come first, not buildings.”
The seats of Scotland County Board of Education Stewartsville representatives Jeff Byrd, Wayne Cromartie, and Pat Gates will be contested next year, as will the seat of at-large member Charles Brown.
As the school board race is nonpartisan, the March primary will serve to winnow down the number of candidates to twice the number of seats available. If fewer than seven candidates file for Stewartsville seats and fewer than three candidates file for the at-large seat, all candidates will move to the November general election.
Filing opened on Tuesday and will close at noon on Dec. 21. So far, three incumbent Scotland County commissioners have filed for re-election: Bob Davis in the Williamson Township, John Alford in the Laurel Hill Township, and Clarence McPhatter in the Stewartsville Township.
The seat of Scotland County Board of Commissioners at-large member Whit Gibson will also be open to challengers.
Scotland County’s register of deeds, L. Page Pratt, III, has also filed.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.