Sumter school board election field closes at 30 candidates; 8 of 9 incumbents file


With five more people filing Monday, Sumter school board races reached 30 total candidates between all nine seats that are up for election.

That is a jump from 18 who had filed through Wednesday, and all eight incumbents who are running will face challengers in November on the often-controversial Sumter School District Board of Trustees.

Candidates filing on the final day included two former board members in Ralph Canty (District 3) and Monica Squires (District 4), as well as Ron Underwood (District 1) and a pair of challengers - Patrice Campbell-Gaines and Mary F. Singleton - who will go up against incumbent Shawn Ragin in District 5.

All nine districts have been redrawn after 2020 Census redistricting and a law change from a few years ago that expanded the board from seven single-member districts and two at-large seats to nine single-member districts for the upcoming election.

All seats are nonpartisan races.

The lone trustee not seeking re-election is board Chairwoman Barbara Jackson, who has been on the board since 2012. As a result of redrawing districts, she and fellow trustee Gloria Lee now live in District 7, and no incumbents live in District 9.

Trustees Brian Alston (District 1) and Frank Baker (District 2) are in races with a field of five candidates. Two other board members - the Rev. Daryl McGhaney (District 4) and Sherril Ray (District 8) - face three challengers each.

Only two incumbents face only one challenger. Those are Johnny Hilton (District 3) against Canty and Lee (District 7) versus Shery Smith.

The District 9 race without any incumbents will be between Bonnie Disney and Reginald "Reggie" Evans. Disney is a former board member who was appointed to one of the at-large seats by the Sumter County Legislative Delegation in 2017. Evans is also running for Sumter City Council in November in the Ward 1 race. According to Pat Jefferson, director of Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections, she is waiting to hear from the S.C. Ethics Commission and other state officials about what will happen if Evans wins both seats. The commission told her nothing prevents him from running for more than one office.

The November midterm election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Unlike previously, school board races with more than two candidates this time could see runoffs, as the legislative delegation changed the elections moving forward to a majority system for winning seats. A candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 8 to avoid a runoff. If not, the top two-vote getters go to a runoff.