CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Winners have been declared in the 16-person race to fill five Charleston County School Board seats, and all three incumbents lost.
The winners for the Charleston North Area’s two open seats were Courtney Waters and Kristen French. Lauren Herterich was elected to represent downtown Charleston, while Erica Cokley and Helen Davis-Frazier were elected to represent West Ashley.
The new school board members are set to be sworn in before their meeting on Nov. 16, and on Wednesday a few of them talked about their top priority once in office.
“I really want to make sure we’re focusing on reinvesting in our neighborhood schools, because we know that those are a lot of the schools that have been identified as failing, and they’ve been sorely neglected," Kristen French said.
“It’s really looking at COVID and the impacts of that, making sure children have access to technology, and that we’re supporting the teachers and the schools," Lauren Herterich said. "Long term, it’s really bridging the educational disparities. They’re huge within our district, and we have to make sure we’re addressing the emerging needs of students.”
“We got to build some trust," Erica Cokley said. “We got to make sure parents are at the table, kids and parents are being heard, so we can start figuring out how we’re going to overcome the obstacles we’ve been dealing these last couple generations.”
Board members Kevin Hollinshead, Chris Fraser, and Rev. Chris Collins all lost their re-election bids in the state’s second largest school district.
“It’s been an honor to serve the county for the eight years I was on the board and am proud of many accomplishments,” Chris Fraser said. “I wish the new board members the best in their service.”
“First I want to thank God for blessing me for serving the school board for three terms for 12 years," Rev. Chris Collins said. “I want to thank all my supporters even though we came up a little short. I want to say thank you to each one of you.”
“The Coalition for Kids spent record numbers of dollars to defeat Chris Collins and myself,” Kevin Hollinshead said. “But, I am elated to see three new faces be elected to the board in Kristen French, Dr. Helen Frazier, and Erica Cokley. They will keep the public informed.”
This was the last election where voters will select school board members at-large.
Starting in 2022, a new law requires Charleston County school board seats to be single-member districts where voters will only be able to vote for their district’s representative.
Some believe that this will make board members more accountable to the people they represent. Voters said they are looking forward to having some new perspectives on the school board.