By Paul Gable
Ten days remain before voting takes place in the special primary election for the Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman.
With statewide primary elections last month, the special election has stayed below the radar of many voters. However, the Horry County School Board annual budget is approximately $750 million. No locally elected government agency in Horry County is responsible for spending more taxpayer dollars each year.
Tuesday July 17, 2018 is the date voters will choose between three candidates for the Republican nomination.
The candidates bring an interesting mix of issues to the race.
Retired teacher Patricia Milley is concerned about the mental health of local students, an issue she said she first brought before the Horry County School Board in 1996. Milley claims one in four Horry County students suffer from mental health issues due to school days being too long, school curricula being too hard and nights too short to recover.
Milley proposes less instruction time per school day, more recess periods in the day and changes to easier curricula in the schools. She proposes 11 separate pieces of legislation that must be passed by the South Carolina General Assembly to institute her recommended changes.
Janice Morreale is the current school board member for Horry County District 5. She was first elected to that seat in 2012 with a campaign slogan of ‘Back to the Basics.’ Her signs for the special election chairman race are carrying the same slogan.
Morreale has been a solid school board member during the five and one-half years she has served District 5. However, 2018 has not been a great election year for incumbents facing opposition. While there is no incumbent in the special election for board chairman, Morreale is one of six incumbent board members who voted for a large salary increase for themselves last year. The salary increase issue already cost one board incumbent the nomination for District 6 in last month’s primaries.
Ken Richardson is the third candidate in the special Republican primary election. He is a Horry County native and longtime business man and former owner of Fowler Motors. Richardson has been a member of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission for 20 years, the past 15 as chairman of that body.
Richardson first declared he was running for school board chairman in early 2017, expecting to have to wait until 2020. The recent death of incumbent board chairman Joe DeFeo moved that timetable up.
Richardson promises to ensure a safe, secure learning environment in Horry County Schools and complete transparency on how tax dollars are spent by the board. He believes his many years in business will bring a fresh, efficient look to the budget process of the county’s largest taxing agency.
A fourth candidate, Heather Johnson, has filed for the chairman’s race as a Democrat. She will face the winner of the Republican special primary in the November 6, 2018 general election.