Education

Candidates lining up for at-large school board election

Amelia Stinson-Wesley
Amelia Stinson-Wesley rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Candidates have already begun lining up to run for a countywide seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

Though formal candidate filing isn’t until July, at least four challengers have announced that they plan to campaign for one of the board’s three at-large seats.

It’s unclear how many incumbents will be in the race. Only one – Ericka Ellis-Stewart – has said she will run for re-election.

Board Chairwoman Mary McCray said she is still undecided.

Vice Chairman Tim Morgan said he will make an announcement about his plans closer to the July filing deadline.

The challengers are primarily familiar faces in Charlotte education circles. School board races are formally nonpartisan but often break down on party lines.

Elyse Dashew

Dashew came in fourth in the last at-large election in 2011 in her first run for office, missing a seat on the board by about 1,300 votes in a crowded race. She identified as an independent but earned the endorsement of a number of groups on both sides of the political aisle.

She got involved in public education in 2010 as budget cuts forced a number of changes across the district, and she has stayed active since then. She is co-chairwoman of the CMS Bond Oversight Committee, and last year Dashew led a petition drive to try to convince Mecklenburg County commissioners to raise CMS employee pay by 3 percent.

“My passion for helping our schools is stronger than ever,” she told the Observer this week.

Levester Flowers

Flowers narrowly missed out on being named to the school board last month to replace outgoing member Joyce Waddell in District 3. When he was passed up in favor of retired educator Ruby Jones, Flowers announced he would be running at-large.

The retired Bank of America employee is a Democrat and has been involved in education issues for a number of years. In 2011, he organized a group known as “Save Our Schools” ahead of a school board vote that closed 10 of them.

Jeremy Stephenson

Stephenson is a newcomer to politics but has been a regular speaker before the school board over the past several months as it decided on school boundaries. He has also advocated for magnet schools and discussed the benefits CMS could reap from Google Fiber.

A corporate attorney, Stephenson is the only Republican who has announced a bid for the school board this year.

Amelia Stinson-Wesley

Stinson-Wesley is the only challenger to have served on the school board previously, representing District 6 after being appointed to the board in 2012.

The Democrat from Pineville decided not to run in 2013 but has remained active in politics and got a few votes to replace former state Sen. Dan Clodfelter when he became mayor of Charlotte.

On the board, Stinson-Wesley advocated for Mecklenburg County’s towns and was part of the process that selected Heath Morrison as superintendent.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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