Tag: Helen Smith

Katrina Morrison Endorses Johnny Gardner for County Chairman

Local activist and former county council chairman candidate Katrina Morrison announced yesterday that she is endorsing incumbent county council Chairman Johnny Gardner in the June 28th Republican Primary runoff election.
“There is no question Johnny Gardner is a much better choice for county council chairman than Mark Lazarus,” Morrison said. “I intend to do everything I can to see Gardner is reelected.”
One of the four candidates who initially filed in the county council chairman primary, Morrison has been a vocal critic of the virtually unrestrained development, especially in or near wetlands, that has gone on in the county in recent years.
Morrison received over 6,000 votes in the first round of the primary virtually all of which would have gone to Gardner had Morrison not been in the race, leaving Gardner and Lazarus in a virtual tie in the first round of voting.
Lazarus outspent Gardner nearly 10 to 1 in the first round of the primary with virtually all of his campaign contributions coming from the development and tourism cabal. The Lazarus campaign was also the beneficiary of four mailers paid for by the S. C. Association of Realtors PAC, which added approximately $80,000 more to the elect Lazarus effort.
The cabal’s goal is to elect candidates who will remove all restrictions on development and who will vote to use county tax dollars to fund Interstate 73 construction.

click on headline above to read more

Update on School Board Chairman Race

Voters will be voting Tuesday for which of three candidates they want to lead the policy making board of Horry County Schools for the next four years.
Two of those candidates, David Cox and Helen Smith, are currently serving members of the school board. The third candidate is retiring teacher Darrell Ricketts. Smith, in fact, has prior service as school board chairman, although Smith’s six-year tenure as chairman ended 20 years ago.
Ricketts presents an interesting question about his qualifications to lead the school board.
I researched old files to review the reasons for Ricketts dismissal as principal from Aynor High School in summer 2004.
Ricketts served as principal of Aynor High School from 1994-2004 until he was removed from that position after an independent investigation, ordered by the school district, concluded in its report that Ricketts improperly altered transcripts and tampered with grades and credits in an attempt to manipulate the school’s state report card rating.
In an initial response to the investigative findings in the report, Ricketts called them one opinion that he disputed.
Later media reports quoted Ricketts as saying his actions were civil disobedience (the refusal to comply with certain laws as an act of protest) to keep marginal students in school.
However, his actions were also apparently taken to get around exit exam requirements established by state legislation.
A Sun News editorial of November 18, 2004 stated, “Ricketts gave up on the youngsters for whose benefit he manipulated the testing system. In doing so, he effectively denied them their last chance to learn critical skills they need to be successful as adults. For that reason, especially, he deserves the punishment that the Horry County Schools bestowed upon him.”
It is now up to voters to decide if those past actions are acceptable in someone who is a candidate for the chair of the policy making body of Horry County Schools.

Which Candidate is Best Qualified to Lead Horry County School Board?

The race for the Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman has contrasts among the candidates that should be looked at.
School boards are under attack nationwide in a concerted effort by the Club for Growth to change the makeup of school boards throughout the country for its own goals. Unfortunately, that effort has little to do with what is best for students.
Current school board member David Cox brings 14 years serving on the board, eight years as the member for District 9 and six as the current member for District 4. Cox has the overwhelming support of current board members in his run for chairman. Cox has the longest current continuous service on the school board.
Current school board member for District 6, Helen Smith, returned to the board in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus. Smith previously served as District 6 member from 1982-1996 and as board chairman from 1996-2002. Needless to say, much has changed in Horry County schools since she ended her term as chairman 20 years ago.
The third candidate for school board chairman, Darrell Ricketts, brings the most interesting curriculum vitae to the race.
Ricketts is retiring as a teacher at Socastee High School this year. However, his tenure in Horry County Schools is checkered.
Ricketts was once the principal at Aynor High School until he was caught changing the grades of over 20 students in order to make school performance look better. When that issue came to light, Ricketts was fired from his principal position and his principal certification by the S. C. Department of Education was terminated. The state left his teacher certification in place allowing him to serve as an agricultural education teacher at Socastee High School.

click on headline above to read more

Election Change Is In the Air

(Ed. Note – The picture with this story is of a Facebook Post by Heather Ammons Crawford, which started the entire “Union Thugs” commentary in the closing days of the Lazarus campaign.)

Defeating an incumbent politician used to be a most difficult undertaking in South Carolina politics. Now it’s almost becoming the norm in Horry County.

Two out of three incumbents on the ballot lost in Myrtle Beach last fall. An incumbent fell to a write-in candidate in Surfside Beach earlier this year.

The latest round of primaries on June 12th saw a state legislator and a long-time school board member go down to opposition. Bill Howard was able to just hold off challenger Dean Pappas in the only contested Republican primary that went to an incumbent. The irony of that race is that newly elected Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune came out late for Pappas and her endorsement may have hurt Pappas in the final days because Bethune has quickly sided with what is considered the establishment in Myrtle Beach even though she was a candidate for “change” in the fall.

Challenger William Bailey took out incumbent Greg Duckworth in the Republican primary for S.C. House District 104. Challenger Helen Smith defeated incumbent Pam Timms in the Horry County School Board District 6 Republican primary. Smith is a former school board chairman in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but probably half of today’s registered voters weren’t living in the county when she last left office so she qualifies as a change candidate.