Baker, Ragin take two at-large Sumter School Board seats over appointed incumbents


Former district Superintendent Frank Baker and educator Shawn Ragin will likely be Sumter School Board's at-large board members moving forward.

Baker and Ragin were the top two vote-getters Tuesday in the general midterm election with Baker receiving more votes than any other at-large candidate on the ballot.

With all precincts reporting, Baker had received 24.5 percent of the vote and 10,029 overall votes. Ragin was the second-highest vote getter with 7,531 votes. Incumbent at-large board member Bonnie Disney finished third overall with 7,002 votes.

It was the first time the public has had the opportunity to vote on the at-large board seats, which were created last year by the Sumter County Legislative Delegation after the district's financial crisis from fiscal year 2016.

After the delegation created the at-large seats in the spring of 2017, Disney and William Byrd were appointed to the board on July 31, 2017. Both announced they would run in the election in April.

Baker was the superintendent during the 2016 financial crisis that revealed $6.2 million in overspending. He mutually agreed earlier in July 2017 with the district's former seven-member board that it was in everyone's best interest for him to retire amid the troubles. Now, 16 months later, he is on the board that will be in charge of selecting the district's next superintendent after Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm has been in the position since Baker left.

Attempts to reach Baker for a statement Tuesday night on his win were unsuccessful.

Ragin, who has run to be Sumter's coroner twice and is headmaster of small private school Ragin Preparatory Christian Academy, said he wanted to thank the public for its support.

"It feels absolutely wonderful to win and become a board member," Ragin said. "I want to thank the community for its support and considering me as a candidate."

As the top vote-getter, Baker will have a four-year term on the board through November 2022. Recording the second-highest vote tally, Ragin will have a two-year term and will face re-election in 2020. When the county's legislative delegation added the two at-large seats to the board last year, it decided that was the best way to stagger the seats.

Those two at-large seats will change to single-member seats in 2021 after the next decennial census with reapportionment. Then, Sumter School District will have nine single-member districts or seats.