Your Schools

CMS at-large board race opens with four familiar faces

Larry Bumgarner filed for his fourth run for CMS board.
Larry Bumgarner filed for his fourth run for CMS board.

It’s deja vu all over again: I’m back on the education beat and four familiar faces filed Monday to run for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

There are no surprises so far – Andrew Dunn stayed on top of this as candidates were declaring interest – but candidates have almost two weeks left to file. The at-large race traditionally draws a large slate, with the top votegetters claiming three of the board’s nine seats.

This isn’t intended to be the definitive profile on anyone. There’s plenty of time for that before Nov. 3, and I’m interested in any suggestions for making this important information helpful and interesting. To keep up with filing and get phone numbers and email addresses for candidates, go to

So here’s who we’ve got so far:

▪ Larry Bumgarner is making his fourth try for the board; last time around he came in sixth of 14 at-large candidates.

Bumgarner, an unaffiliated voter who lives in Mint Hill, is known for his prolific comments on the Observer’s articles and his unusual campaign themes. Last time he ran for school board he focused on the superiority of charter schools. This time he lists his campaign website as, which doesn’t say anything about education but does voice frustration with “a country (that) becomes an enemy to our very life and rights.”

“This year do not celebrate the Fourth Of July. Take down the Flag,” his most recent post says. “Only buy what you have to, for a cookout, and have a Revolutionary Event where you no longer contribute your hard earned money for a Country which has turned its back on you and your values.”

▪ Elyse Dashew made her first try for the board four years ago, and finished just out of the money in fourth place. She’s a CMS parent who has been involved in a number of causes promoting public schools. She’s entering this year’s race with a long list of supporters, ranging from retired banking mogul Hugh McColl to departing N.C. Teacher of the Year James Ford.

Dashew, who lives in southeast Charlotte, also illustrates why so so many people use air quotes when they talk about board races being nonpartisan. Last year local Democrats and Republicans promoted their own slates of preferred candidates. Dashew, who was unaffiliated, wasn’t on either list. This time around she’s a registered Democrat.

Find her info at; on Twitter she’s @ElyseDashew.

▪ Levester Flowers is a first-time school board candidate, but he has been active in CMS politics for years and campaigned for Charlotte City Council last year. In 2010 Flowers helped create a group called Save Our Schools to protest closings, which landed most heavily on high-poverty schools serving black and Hispanic students.

Since then Flowers has been a regular speaker at school board meetings, pushing to get families more involved in education. He’s a Democrat who lives in the Mallard Creek area.

Update: Find Flowers’ campaign page at

▪ Amelia Stinson-Wesley was appointed to the District 6 school board seat in 2012, after Tim Morgan was elected at large. The board’s new Democratic majority created a stir by naming Stinson-Wesley, a Democrat, to represent the majority-Republican district and she didn’t seek election in 2013.

Stinson-Wesley is a CMS mother and a United Methodist minister. She’s been involved in various efforts to prevent domestic violence and child abuse. She lives in Pineville.

Find her info at

Helms: 704-358-5033;

Twitter: @anndosshelms.