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Election 2012: Kerr wins school board seat by 20 votes

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Candidates for School Board District 6 appeared together at two forums the week before the election and acknowledged there wasn’t much difference between their positions. This week, voters agreed.

Richard Kerr finished with 1,722 votes, just 20 more than Peggy Wheeler-Cribb.

“I feel doubtful they’re going to find me 21 votes,” Wheeler-Cribb said.

The county Board of Elections will hold a recount. The vote is due to be certified Friday.

If Kerr holds his lead, he will be sworn in Tuesday to replace Teresa Bennani, who won the seat over Kerr and Eric Heiden in 2008. She did not run for a second term.

“If I end up winning, I’m extremely happy,” Kerr said. He spoke with elections officials on Wednesday. “There’s no hanging chad,” he was told.

Both candidates in this year’s nonpartisan election pledged to continue Bennani’s efforts to expand preschool programs in the district.

“We ran a lot on the same issues,” said Kerr, the retired CEO of International Metals Co., who lives at Litchfield.

They shared the platform at a League of Women Voters forum in Georgetown and at a community forum at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Parkersville. Wheeler-Cribb, who owned and ran a preschool in Georgetown for over 30 years, said her only disappointment with her first run for public office was that so few people attended the forums.

Yard signs, newspaper ads and the forums were the total of her campaign. Asthma aggravated by the fall pollen kept her from going door-to-door and friends advised her that phone calls annoy voters, she said.

Kerr’s campaign followed the same course, but he also met with small groups of voters, he said.

“And I generally talked to people,” he said.

Along with expanded preschool, Kerr plans to press the district to expand vocational education. About half the county’s high school graduates don’t go to college. “That’s a large number of students,” he said. “It’s one way to help the students find a career.”

That might not have resonated as much in District 6 because a larger portion of Waccamaw High graduates do go to college, but “it’s still an important issue,” he said.

Wheeler-Cribb last month urged the school board to reconsider its decision to do away with prayer before the meetings in response to an enquiry from the ACLU into religious activities in district schools. That issue wasn’t raised in the campaign, but she said she was told by a board member that this might not be the time for her to serve because she was outspoken on the issue.

“It might cost the district some money,” Wheeler-Cribb said.

She has a grandson at Waccamaw Intermediate School will continue to be involved in the schools. “I don’t intend to change anything,” she said.

In addition to seven members elected from districts, the school board has two at-large seats elected countywide. Those will be up in 2014, and Wheeler-Cribb said she might consider another campaign.

For Kerr, “one of the first orders of business is for me to get out an meet with each of the principals and make sure I understand their issues and problems,” he said. “I haven’t visited the elementary school this season.”

All five Waccamaw Neck schools are located in District 6, including the charter school that opened this year in the Waccamaw Middle building.

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Four incumbents re-elected to the board, including Sarah Elliott, who was unopposed in District 1 on Waccamaw Neck.

Zelma Carr in District 4 was also unopposed

Sandra Johnson won a second term in District 3 with 67 percent of the vote. Elery Little won District 5 with 57 percent.

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