District 5 Up for Grabs

Bobby Cunningham

No 2nd School Board Term for Cunningham

WINNSBORO – Barely a week after District 7 County Councilman David Brown announced that he would be retiring from Council at the end of his current term, Bobby Cunningham, the Trustee from District 5, announced that he would not seek another term with the Fairfield County School Board.

“I said from day one that I would not run for a second term,” Cunningham told The Voice this week. “I’m 70 years old and I have other things I want to pursue.”

Cunningham pulled something of an upset in 2010, unseating Rickey Johnson, a minority incumbent in a minority district, 578 votes (51.56 percent) to 542 (48.35 percent). Since then, Cunningham has been part of a Board that has ushered in what might be considered a renaissance for the school district, hiring and supporting the longest serving superintendent in recent memory, updating the District’s security systems, reducing frivolous spending and, earlier this month, breaking ground on a new Career and Technology Center.

“I had no earthly idea I would even win the thing,” Cunningham said. “I think my reputation is if you ask me something I’m going to tell you like it is. I think that’s what it was. People knew I was fair and that I would say what was on my mind.”

Progress has been slow, Cunningham admits, and there is more to be made, but it has been progress, he said. And that is something the District hasn’t seen in quite some time. Attorney fees are down and test scores are up, Cunningham noted, and with the help of the School Resource Officers (SROs) and an updated security camera system, issues that Cunningham pushed to the forefront, the schools are safer than they were just four years ago.

“There were a lot of issues on the curriculum side that I did not understand,” Cunningham said, “but there were other issues on the safety side that I did understand. Those security cameras have been a life-saver for the School District. There were some who were hell bent set against it.”

Apart from championing safety issues, Cunningham said he was most proud of being on a Board that undertook and finally implemented a salary study, bringing wages up for the District’s lowest paid employees. And during his term, Cunningham has always been a staunch defender of taxpayer dollars.

“I ate my first meal at the last Board meeting (an unusual 4:30 p.m. meeting on June 12),” Cunningham said. “I have eaten at retreats we’ve had – maybe a donut or a sausage biscuit, but I have not abused the taxpayers’ money. I go to one seminar every year, to Myrtle Beach, to get my points for accreditation, but that’s it. And I’ve never had one dime of phone calls to our attorneys, running up that bill.”

The 70-year-old Cunningham said he has no further political aspirations at this time. He will fill his days, he said, tending his garden, working in the yard and relaxing in his rocking chair underneath the carport of his Washington Street home, watching the cars go by and throwing up a hand when he elicits a friendly honk.