Voters reshuffle R2 school board

Garvin elected to replace McEachern

COLUMBIA – Voters in the Richland Two school board race returned three of the four incumbent candidates to office on Tuesday and seated a political newcomer who received more votes than two of the incumbents, ousting one in the process.

In the at-large race, the top four vote getters are seated. Those are Amelia McKie, James Manning, Teresa Holmes and Cheryl Caution-Parker.

Current board chair Amelia McKie took the lion’s share of the vote with 22,427 votes (20 percent) to win a second term. McKie, a Richland Two parent, was elected chair of the board during her first term, campaigning on her many years of supporting the district through service on numerous parent/teacher/student organizations and School Improvement Councils.

James Manning, also a Richland Two parent, was elected to a third term on the board with 18,768 votes (17 percent).

In an upset, newcomer Teresa Holmes came in third with 17,528 votes (16 percent), over Blythewood incumbents Cheryl Caution-Parker with 16,570 votes (15 percent) and Craig Plank with 15,049 votes (14 percent). Those numbers left Plank, who was first elected in 2014, out of the mix.

$476M bonds approved

Voters in Richland School District Two approved two separate questions for bond referendums totaling $476 million for school projects. The first question asked for approval of $381.9 million for upgrades to security, technology and other improvements. That money would also go toward building new facilities for district schools including Bethel-Hanberry Elementary.

The second question provided funds for upgrading athletics facilities at several schools including separate stadiums for Ridge View High and Richland Northeast High schools and creating a district performing arts center.

House race

In a statehouse race affecting Blythewood residents, Richland County voters sent newcomer Kambrell Garvin (D) to the House (Dist. 77) with 12,390 votes (84 percent) over opponent Justin Bishop who took 2,284 votes (16 percent). Voters in Blythewood favored Garvin over longtime incumbent Joe McEachern in the Democratic Primary.

Richland showed a notably higher voter turnout in 2018 compared to previous election years. The 51.22 percent in 2018 for the county was five percent higher than 2014.