Fort Mill voters returned two school trustees and selected a retired teacher and a local worship leader on Tuesday to fill four spots on the Fort Mill School Board of Trustees.
Unofficial results show incumbents Wayne Bouldin and Michele Branning as the top two vote getters while worship leader Joe Helms and retired teacher Lipi Pratt receiving enough to beat out eight others.
Incumbent Celia McCarter failed to win re-election to a second term. Trustee Brian Murphy, a local attorney, did not file to run again for the seat he has held for the last four years.
Connie Cullen was the fifth-place vote getter while former professional basketball player Eric Mann was sixth, according to unofficial results.
On Tuesday night, Branning said she was excited for the community. “I am proud to be brought back for another four years to do the people’s work,” she said. “And it is time to get busy.”
Asked for his reaction, Bouldin messaged this response: “Whoop whoop!” He also said he was “very humbled by the show of support from so many.”
Pratt, who retired last year from Sugar Creek Elementary School, was recovering at home after spending time in the dark picking up campaign signs.
“I am proud of the campaign that I ran,” Pratt said. “I worked hard to be a positive voice about the good things that are happening in Fort Mill School District, and I am planning to continue to be a positive voice for the good things that are happening in the Fort Mill school District.”
Helms been a resident of Fort Mill for 15 years and serves as a local worship leader in Tega Cay. Helms is also a “real estate investor, entrepreneur, and account executive at a top financial education company,” he said on his Facebook page.
The race was marked by group endorsements, with Moms of Liberty putting their stamp on candidates who pledged to stand up for parental rights and the left-leaning Fort Mill Liberal Resisterhood getting behind their favorites.
In the end, the race included a diverse mix that included several parents, the retired teacher, a former school nurse and a former professional basketball player.
During two debates, the candidates defined their differences on a variety of issues, including tough questions on how they would hold the superintendent accountable, what they would do to ensure safe schools and their reaction to the discovery by parents of culturally responsive teaching, pornographic literature and gender identity surveys in schools.
Two candidates made their second attempt to join the Fort Mill School District’s Board of Trustees, including Dr. Nichell Newton and Desareta Jones.
Among the new candidates who did not win: Rachele Julian, Connie Cullen, Kevin Glover, Eric Mann and Brandi Jansen.
The three remaining board seats will be up for re-election in 2024.