Incumbents fall in Dist. 55: New trustees for districts 55 and 56

In District 55, Seat 7 representative Robby Bell, who has been serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, lost soundly to opponent James Bubba Rawl, with a vote of 1,170 for Rawl to 527 for Bell. 

Also falling to the challenger was Seat 3 incumbent Barbara Beeks, who lost her seat to challenger Neal Patterson with a vote of 1,020 for Beeks, to 1,398 for Patterson.

Seat 5 incumbent Anthony Carpenter held on to his seat against challenger Thomas Curry.

After trustee Terri Martin opted not to run for re-election, Seat 1 was the only seat which was up for grabs and Todd Varner won easily with 1,580 votes to 655 votes by Melvin Moco Allen.

While admitting it’s not how he wanted to leave the school board, Bell said he was grateful for the opportunity he’s had.

“I appreciate the opportunity I had to serve the people for 8 years,” Bell said. “I wish the board and District 55 nothing but the best.”

Rawl said he was looking forward to the chance to learn.

“I’m excited and anxious to meet my fellow board members,” Rawl said. “I’m going to start out by keeping my mouth shut and my ears open for a good while.”

He said he understood there would be a steep learning curve, “but I will advocate for teachers and parents and students of District 55.”

Like Bell, Beeks also had high hopes for the district’s future.

“It has been my privilege to serve and represent my community for the last 11 years, and I pray for continued success for Dr. Thomas and the school district,” Beeks said, referring to District Superintendent Ameca Thomas.

As the only District 55 incumbent who held onto his seat, Carpenter said he will continue to work hard for the good of the students.

“I am grateful people think I can still be effective,” Carpenter said. “We have to continue to make this system better without making it political, and I will continue to support Dr. Thomas and her leadership because she’s up to the job.”

In District 56, the only incumbent to try and keep her seat was Seat 2 trustee Kimberly L. Williams Carter, and she easily held her position with 616 votes to challenger George Austin III’s total of 232.

In a seat left open for seat 1, opponents Rhonda L. Gary and Laurie R. Dyches were seeking the trustee position left by Edna McGee, who opted not to run. 

Gary won easily with 400 votes to 241 for Dyches.

The other seats were uncontested, as Chair Jim Barton kept his seat and Charles Stinson won the Seat 4 trustee position left open after Patsy Sadler opted not to run again.

As the founder and leader of her non-profit, Impact2Purpose, Gary works with youth on a year-round basis.

“I’m excited and I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to advocate for the youth in Laurens County,” Gary said. “There are some awesome leaders in the district and I am ready to come aboard and continue to be a voice for the youth in Laurens County.”

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