SC SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION: Eight candidates introduce themselves to voters at downtown forum

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — In November, South Carolina voters will elect a new state superintendent.

Before then, the June 14th primaries will narrow down the field of candidates.

At the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, candidates for state superintendent of education gave their reasons for why they are the best choice for the position.

Democrat Gary Burgess calls himself the most qualified.

“I have actually run a school district. I am now an elected school board member,” Burgess said. “Secondly, I have traveled the state listening to people and the hopes for their children.”

Republican Bryan Chapman says he has been told he is the best candidate because of his different positions held.

“You’ve been a pastor. You help in faith-based and community involvement. You’re doing things nobody else is doing,” Chapman said. “You have your hand in the school board and you’re a teacher.”

 Many candidates addressed the teacher shortage in the state.

“We got to have less paperwork for them. Get rid of some of this eating that we’re doing,” said Republican candidate Kathy Maness. “We have to restore discipline in our classrooms so our teachers can teach and our students can learn.”

“That’s where we make the most difference in our students is having a teacher in the classroom,” said Democratic candidate Lisa Ellis. “Not only teachers, but support staff, drivers and employees that meet students every day is where we build relationships. That’s where we provide opportunities for students to really be successful.”

One candidate from Chester who is running under the Green Party was also present at the forum.

“I would push that every student starts with basic skills so they can have a hard foundation,” said Patricia Mickel.

Republican Lynda Leventis-Wells from Greenville spoke about getting students up to grade level as well as ready for life after graduation.

“Build programs, curriculum and training that meets state standards,” said Leventis-Wells. “Create the best graduates that are college and career ready.”

Democrat Jerry Govan believes there are many problems with education that need to be tackled.

“But let’s start with curriculum and standards,” Govan said. “I think we need to do a review of our curriculum and standards to see if they’re meeting the needs of our students.”

Like Govan, Republican Kizzi Gibson also grew up in Orangeburg County and has her own ideas for improving education in the state. 

“I believe that our focus should be on reading, writing and creativity in the classroom,” Gibson said. “That should be our main focus.”

Two candidates, Ellen Weaver and Travis Bedson, were not at the forum. 

All eight candidates at the forum believe they are the right pick for the job but it will be up to the voters on June 14th to narrow the field down during the primaries.

Categories: Local News, Richland