Lexington One voters select Dr. Brent Powers to fill board seat
Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – A small fraction of the eligible voters in Lexington School District One turned out on Tuesday to select a board member to fill the unexpired term of former member Grady Harmon who resigned earlier this spring. Less than 7% of of those that could vote, voted and the majority selected Dr. Brent Powers to serve out that term. Powers won the race with 1,272 votes of the total votes cast with all precincts reporting. This was a special election and the selection of that one board member was the only thing on the ballot.
Seven people had filed to run in a race that some said was a referendum on how the current board and administrative leadership was operating. The candidates were diverse and included Powers, a doctor who had been on the board before and serves as the chief medical officer at the Lexington Medical Center, Dr. Kyle Guyton, a pediatrician who had pulled himself up from a childhood where he was raised by working class parents to a become a successful doctor who owns his own practices, and even an attorney who works for the SC Department of Education. There was also a former bus driver turned court reporter running who criticized much of the way that the district does things, and a former coach and principal who developed the district’s first alternative program. In the end, the people put their trust in Powers.
One of the questions that seemed to arise during this election was fiscal responsibility on the part of the district. Just as the race heated up, the district purchased a tract of land from a former board member for seven times its assessed value. The uproar of that purchase called into question whether the board members were being good of the stewards of the people’s money.
Another question that came up during this race, and seems to come up frequently, is whether the schools that are in the more rural portions of the district receive their fair share of attention and money that the district spends on resources. The board pointed to a number of projects that they had already funded in Pelion, Gilbert, and the White Knoll area and had committed to building new schools in those areas to replace some of the district’s oldest facilities.
In this election, we saw politics at its highest level. Tuesday, some voters in the district received a robo-call from Roxanne Wilson, wife of Congressman Joe Wilson, supporting Dinno Teppera for the seat. This type of political maneuver is almost unheard of in a small, local election. It seems to illustrate the passion that these candidates had to claim this seat, a job that can control the lion’s share of the people’s property tax dollars. It’s also a job that comes with a huge commitment of time and no pay. In the end, the voters that braved the heat to vote in this special election decided Powers was their pick.
This one seat should not be considered a clear referendum on anything. With talk that the district may ask the voters to borrow more than four-hundred-million dollars in November for new schools and an election where several more seats on the board will be up for grabs, we will have to wait until the fall to get an accurate gauge of how the residents of the district feel things are going.
The end results for the election Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. with all precincts in were: Jada Garris-820, Jim Harpe-825, Dino Teppera-738, Kyle Guyton-888, Mike Sturkie-431, Brent Powers-1,272, Rutu Bhonsle-158.