Tarah Cousar Johnson is set to be the new District 4 trustee on Sumter School District’s Board of Trustees following Tuesday’s runoff election.
According to unofficial election-night totals, Johnson earned 60.85% of the new district’s vote, or 600 votes in the runoff. Challenger Monica Squires took 39.15%, or 387 votes.
“I am overwhelmed and elated,” Johnson told The Sumter Item Tuesday night. “I am happy that Area 4 residents saw it fit to vote the best candidate, the most-equipped candidate and the most experienced candidate into this seat. They did it because they know that I care about the children, they know that I care about the community, and they know I will do what is right for all three.”
Squires said, even though she was disappointed in the results, she wishes Johnson and the board the best in the future.
"I wish her and the school district well, and I know that God just has other plans for me," she said. "I will continue to support our town and community, the students and our teachers."
Votes will be made official on Friday, according to the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office.
A runoff is necessary when there are more than two candidates on the ballot but no one receives a majority of the votes (50% plus one vote). This is the first election the school board required a candidate to earn a majority of votes, rather than a plurality when simply the candidate with the most votes wins, even if it is under 50%.
Incumbent Daryl McGhaney finished third in the Nov. 8 election and will no longer be a board member after December. He has served on the school board since the start of district consolidation in 2011.
All new school board members will be installed in early January.
Sumter’s school board moved to nine single-member districts for this election and moving forward. Previously, the board was comprised of seven single-member districts and two at-large seats since 2017. The boundaries were redrawn in response to the 2020 census and to legislation written by Sumter’s state lawmakers after millions in overspending was revealed in the school district’s 2016 audit. At that time and originally, the trustees were a seven-member board.
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