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It's time for Lexington-Richland School Board to hold its members responsible for their actions

Dear Editor,

It is time for school board elections again and it is my hope that the citizens of Lexington/Richland District 5 will hold certain board members accountable for their actions and behavior over the years. Only incumbent Jan Hammond has acted in a manner that is responsible and has listened to the concerns and needs of the community. She truly seems to care about her constituents whereas the other board members appear to care about shutting out the voices and concerns of the community.

Jeff Herring in Richland County and Ken Loveless in Lexington would be ideal choices to join Jan Hammond on the District 5 Board. Other board members, specifically, Ed White and Ellen Baumgardner have been outright rude and dismissive of community concerns over topics like carelessly spending taxpayers money to support their own agendas such as new "neighborhood schools", overpriced land purchases and maximum tax increases. Both not only voted to purchase the controversial, unsafe property on Amicks Ferry Rd., they were also abrasive and downright rude to the public and to Mrs. Hammond in front of the public at board meetings. Those long-time board members even voted to change public participation rules in how the board responds and Freedom of Information Act district rules. White and Baumgardner, also voted to increase property taxes the maximum amount possible over the past eight years. Do you realize that 72% of your property tax is for the school district 5, and NOT the actual county? Take a close look at your property tax bills, it's shocking! These incumbents, even take advantage of the "three-year rollback" increase so they can say they haven't raised taxes during certain election years. Don't we, the taxpayers deserve to hold the Lexington-Richland District 5 board accountable for being fiscally responsible? In addition to the overpriced property on Amicks Ferry Rd., they also voted to purchase land beside Irmo High School. Not only did they purchase this small track for well over the appropriate value, but they do not even have a plan to use the property. They act as though the taxpayer dollars, are "free" for them the do what ever they choose where they benefit. Per the 2008 Bond Referendum, the board purchased a large track of land on Derrick Pond Road, to build an elementary school in the highest area of growth to alleviate the overcrowding at Lake Murray Elementary. Nine years later, they still haven't built and they can't give an acceptable reason why expect "they hope to be able to use it one day". You don't waste taxpayers money on "hope".

Mrs. Baumgardner, continually campaigns as a "fiscal conservative." However, she votes to raises taxes at every chance they can get and votes "yes" to spend our money on grossly overpriced land. This doesn't sound like much of a fiscal conservative to me. If you found the perfect piece of property for your family, would you choose to pay 3 times it's actual value? No, as that would be a waste of money and not very responsible. Voters in Lexington Richland District 5 need to "Just say NO" to Baumgardner and White, and vote yes to Nikki Gardner, Jeff Herring and Ken Loveless, who truly care about the community and our tax dollars. These NEW candidates will bring fresh ideas to our District and bring with them experience in finance, procurement and business operations. It is important that these new candidates replace Ellen Baumgardner and Ed White and even Larry Haltiwanger, since they have proven they do not care about the community, the betterment of our district, and being fiscally responsible.

I hope all citizens will join me in supporting Jan Hammond and Ken Loveless in Lexington County, and Jeff Herring and Nikki Gardner on the Richland County side in the upcoming elections. Remember folks, "Just Say NO to Baumgardner & White"!

Ms. Charli Wessinger,

Chapin, SC

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