Dem primary in SC superintendent race too close to call
The founder of grassroots teacher organization SC for Ed has a sizable lead in the Democratic primary for leader of public schools, but it’s too early to tell whether she’ll be able to avoid a runoff.
With 96% of the precinct returns, SC for Ed founder Lisa Ellis led all Democratic candidates with 49.8% of the vote, just short of the share needed to win the nomination. Former Anderson 4 Superintendent Gary Burgess is second with about 31 percent of the vote and Orangeburg State Rep. Jerry Govan has 19 percent in the three-way race, according to unofficial statements.
If the results are confirmed, Ellis and Burgess, the two leading voters, would face off in two weeks from Tuesday in pursuit of the Democratic nomination. If the outstanding ballots push Ellis above the 50% mark, however, she would avoid a contest with Burgess and win the nomination.
A run-off election, if necessary, would take place on June 28.
Ellis, teacher and director of student activities at Blythewood High School, is best known for founding SC for Ed, a group of progressive teachers who in 2019 marched on State House to demand better pay and working conditions for South Carolina educators.
Burgess is a member of the Anderson County School Board and former Superintendent of Anderson County School District 4. He is a spokesperson for the Florence County School District 4, ran his own consulting company, and taught classes at Converse College and the Citadel, according to his campaign website biography.
Both candidates support salary increases for teachers and want to keep taxpayers’ money in public schools rather than diverting it via vouchers to private or religious schools.
Ellis also supports pay increases for support staff, stronger school mental health services and fairer school funding.
She said teachers should be free to teach according to state standards without fear of punishment or politically motivated censorship.
Burgess said he wants more support and better professional development opportunities for educators.
The likely second-round winner between Ellis and Burgess will face either Kathy Maness or Ellen Weaver in November, who finished first and second in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
This story was originally published June 15, 2022 12:49 a.m.