LAURINBURG — With the filing period for the March primary election nearing its halfway point, activity at the Scotland County Board of Elections continued at a glacial pace on Wednesday with a sole additional candidate.
Charles Brown of Wagram filed to run for a third term in one of the Scotland County Board of Education’s at-large seats. Brown wants to continue to help the district-wide consolidation process that began this year with the closure of Pate-Gardner and Washington Park elementary schools.
“In terms of how things have worked out with the school changes and consolidation, we’ve begun that process and I want to see those things through,” said Brown, who also hopes that his experience can be of use to Superintendent Ron Hargrave, who was hired in 2014.
Brown, who also serves on the Richmond Community College Board of Trustees, is a former educator who taught at Central School, Wagram Elementary, Carver Middle, and East Laurinburg Alternative Academy.
As a school board member, Brown has supported the school closures and consideration of further consolidation as a method of maintaining an efficient and effective school system in the face of dwindling resources and a shrinking population.
A 2014 dispute between the school board and the county board of commissioners, which was ultimately resolved through mediation, led to a local funding agreement through the current school year. That agreement also established a joint committee to discuss future funding — which members of both boards agree has improved the boards’ relationship.
“We are on good terms with our county commissioners,” Brown said. “Spending taxpayers’ money, we all have to be cognizant that we have to look out for the best interests of the citizens of Scotland County, because they keep us afloat and keep available the best education that we can provide to the boys and girls in Scotland County.”
In addition to Brown’s seat, the seats of Scotland County Board of Education Stewartsville representatives Jeff Byrd, Wayne Cromartie, and Pat Gates will be contested next year. So far, only Karen James has filed to run to represent the Stewartsville township.
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.
Also up for re-election next year on the Scotland County Board of Commissioners are Williamson Township representative Bob Davis, Laurel Hill Township representative John Alford, Stewartsville Township representative Clarence McPhatter, and at-large commissioner Whit Gibson, all of whom have filed to run as Democrats.
Scotland County’s incumbent register of deeds, L. Page Pratt, III, has also filed for re-election with no challengers as of yet.
Filing will close at noon on Dec. 21.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.