By Barney Blakeney
Several races in the 2018 general election may have been more contentious, but few were as unpredictable as the races for seats on Charleston County Consolidated School Board. Voters elected four members to the board in races that featured three incumbent county school board members. Elected to the board were incumbents Cindy Bohn Coats, Kate Darby and Eric Mack and newly elected board member Joyce Green.
As State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman cruised to an unopposed re-election even as voters defeated a referendum on whether in 2023 to make that position a gubernatorial appointment, the incumbents handily won their re-election bids.
Their victories however belied the contentiousness of the campaigns to get them elected. Buoyed by a controversial new group, the Charleston Coalition for Kids which advocated for the re-election of the incumbents and East Cooper candidate Joyce Green, the incumbents fought off a focus on several recent school district assessments that criticized its governance.
In a recent editorial, Quality Education Project Chairman Kendall Deas said that while research indicates a disruption of the status quo is needed, advocating the re-election of three incumbents was contradictory.
“QEP calls for a new vision of leadership concerning education in Charleston County,” Deas wrote. “Charleston County needs new leadership on the consolidated school board that would be a strong voice for teachers, students and their parents,” he wrote.
In the East Cooper race where voters had a choice to seat two board members, Darby consistently led the pack. Joyce Green narrowly beat Jake Rambo to win the second available seat to represent East Cooper on the board.