Orangeburg County voters on Tuesday largely selected candidates with education experience to sit on the new Orangeburg County School Board.
Six of the nine individuals elected to the new school board currently sit on one of the county's three school district boards.
Two of the individuals -- Mary Ulmer and Vernell Goodwin -- chair existing school boards. Ulmer chairs District 5 and Goodwin chairs District 3.
Idella Carson, Betty Pelzer, William O'Quinn and Peggy Tyler all currently sit on the existing school boards.
Ruby Edwards, who won seat 6, and Debora Brunson, who won the at-large Seat 9, both have extensive education experience even though they do not currently sit on boards.
R.L "Poppy" Brown, pastor of Target AME Church in Holly Hill, was also elected to the board.
The winners will make up the new school board that will direct the Orangeburg County consolidated school district, which is being formed through the combination of school districts 3, 4 and 5.
A crowded field of 32 candidates was seeking seats on the new board.
Brunson, who has spent 45 years in education, rode to victory in a wide margin for the at-large District 9 seat. She received 12,280 votes.
Brunson thanked those who assisted her team and her supporters.
"I appreciate all the confidence entrusted to me," she said. "I will do my best to make sure that Orangeburg County schools are second to none in the state."
Brunson says she has concerns about school safety, overcrowded classrooms, teacher retention and teacher pay. She hopes the new board will address all of these issues.
Carson, who won seat 5, said her stomach was all in knots as the results came in.
"We had a positive campaign," Carson said. "Henry is a very nice person. All I can say is a job well done for my constituents."
Carson says one of her main concerns is hiring a superintendent for the new district, whether it retains an existing superintendent or conducts a search for a new superintendent.
"How are we going to get the three districts together?" she said. Carson said equity and teacher pay are also a concern.
"I noticed District 5 teacher salaries were a little higher than the other districts,” she said. “The transition committee is working now to close that gap where everybody will be on the same page."
Ulmer won seat 7.
"I would like to thank the voters for your confidence in me," Ulmer said. "It gives me an opportunity to return to the Orangeburg school district board to advocate for our children, teachers, staff and this community. I am very grateful for this opportunity."
Ulmer declined to comment on specific issues she would like to see the new school board address.
"I care not to (talk about issues) until we come together as a board to look at where we are and where we want to go," Ulmer said.
The results will be certified Friday at 10 a.m. in Orangeburg County Council Chambers.
The new single Orangeburg County School District will take over the county’s schools beginning July 1, 2019.
Current school board members who were elected Tuesday will take office one week after the certification of election results. If elected, the individual will resign from their present board. The vacancy on the present board will be filled by a county legislative delegation appointment.
Seats 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 will have four-year terms, while seats 2, 4, 6 and 8 will have two-year terms initially. The seats will all have four-year terms following the initial terms.
The new school board will have its first meeting on Nov. 15 in Orangeburg County Council Chambers. This means current school board members who were elected will not meet at their regularly scheduled district board meetings.
The terms of all present school district members will expire July 1, 2019. The authority to manage the existing school districts remains with the individual school district boards until this date.
Tuesday's election results are:
Betty Macon Pelzer – 1,740
Dennis White – 1,076
Lawton Brown -- 477
Johnny Broughton Jr. – 694
Vernell H. Goodwin – 1,771
Vernon Stephens – 1,531
William O’Quinn – 1,402
Linda Huggins – 1,025
Elaine Vincent -- 230
Peggy James-Tyler – 1,252
Susan Cade Gleaton – 1,183
Joyce Colter – 764
Idella W. Carson – 1,310
Henry N. Jenkins Sr. – 1,163
Robert Doc Johnson -- 454
Ruby Edwards – 1,435
Shirlan Mosley-Jenkins -- 912
Kalu Kalu -- 789
Albertha Sistrunk-Krakue – 326
Mary Berry Ulmer – 1,560
Sam Farlow – 1,358
Larry Jumper -- 329
R.L. Poppy Brown – 4,857
Antron T. Williams – 4,218
Aaron Rudd – 4,092
Joseph Garvin – 3,537
Kenita D. Pitts – 3,012
Teresa O. Hinnant – 3,207
Debora B. Brunson – 12,280
Anna S. Jacobs – 3,585
Gene Gartman Jr. – 2,955
Laurie Sibley – 2,928