Newcomers Hodges, Savage take victory with overwhelming majority
Members of the Union County Board of Education weren’t immune to the anti-incumbent sentiment on Election Day, with two new candidates collecting over 50 percent of the ballots in their respective races. Republican Sherry Hodges beat incumbent Democrat John Parker with over 50 percent of voters or 19,415 ballots, while Parker received just 19 percent or 7,312. Candidates Dennis Rape and Candice Sturdivant came close to tying for third with approximately 15 percent each, and less than 500 votes separated the two.
In the District 6 race, Marce Savage beat incumbent Kimberly Morrison Hansley and write-in David Kennedy. Savage collected 59 percent or 6,734 votes, while Morrison-Hansley received 34 percent or 3,864. Kennedy finished with 6 percent or 709 votes.
“I’m excited, I really think there’s gonna be a lot of good energy with people that are coming on to the board,” Savage said.
A political consultant, Savage served as coordinator of minority affairs for Senator Elizabeth Dole. She’s also served as the chair of the North Carolina Women’s Hispanic Republican National Assembly and currently, as a stay at home mom, works as the PTSO president for Marvin Ridge Middle School. As the votes kept coming in, so did the calls and Facebook messages from family and friends, Savage said.
“It’s emotional,” Savage said. “Just to see the look on my parents’ faces, it’s a great sense of pride. This is something I’ve shared with my dad, how many people get to do that?”
Savage’s dad, Dan Ramirez, was a candidate for the Mecklenburg County Commission, a race in which he finished fifth.
Morrison-Hansley’s support came mainly from two areas, precinct 7 at Mt. Carmel Methodist Church and precinct 21 at Walkerville Presbyterian Church. The other eleven precincts in the district all came out in favor of Savage, especially Wesley Chapel Elementary’s precinct 17A, where she got 663 votes to Morrison-Hansley’s 267.
At large winner sees countywide support
Precinct victories for Sherry Hodges meanwhile were countywide, ranging from Waxhaw Elementary to Fairview to Allen’s Crossroads Fire Department. Both precincts at Hemby Bridge Elementary and Siler Presbyterian Church came out in massive numbers to support Hodges, with over half of the 2,099 combined voters casting a ballot in her favor.
In total, over 38,000 of the 124,000 residents registered in Union County participated in electing a winner for this crowded race.
Hodges will soon take over for Parker, a Monroe business owner with three years school board experience. Parker serves as the Board of Education municipal liaison for Marshville and as a member of the Board’s strategic planning & technology, policy, board appeals and calendar committees.
Hodges touts communication as key
Sherry Hodges ran as a proud parent of four UCPS children. “When you’re already there, it gives you a really good ground from which to get people engaged and involved,” Hodges said.
She hopes to publish a website that offers an easy locale to learn the “whats,” “whens” and “wheres” of what is going on while providing a forum for opinion sharing.
In this challenging era of doing more with less, communication will be more key than ever before, Hodges noted. “We don’t want people saying ‘I didn’t know.” By creating an online easy-to-locate venue with clear content, our businesses and communities will be in the best position to find information and receive communications.
She hopes that as an at-large member she serve as a unifying force on the board that represents six districts in total. “I want them to know,” Hodges said, “that we are all in the same boat.”
Arp, Pigg win one sided contests
One incumbent avoided the sweep however, with District 3 candidate and current School Board chair Dean Arp winning unchallenged with 99 percent of the vote. That one percent, or 33 votes, went to several write-in candidates. Also winning unopposed was newcomer Rick Pigg, a natural resource conservationist at the Department of Agriculture. Pigg, who took District 4 with 98 percent of the vote, replaces Richard Weiner, who decided not to run for another term. In the District 4 race, there were also 85 ballots cast for write-in candidates.
The changes mean within two school board election cycles, five members have been replaced. That includes the three new members, along with David Scholl and Laura Minsk, who came on board in 2008.