PICKENS COUNTY — With just days remaining before the Nov. 6 election, Pickens County School Board candidates had a chance to answer pressing questions from likely voters.
Judy Edwards, David Whittemore and Dr. Valerie Ramsey will be vying for the Easley seat on the board Tuesday, and were able to share some of their views with a group of residents earlier this week.
“My main reason for wanting to serve in the school board is for the children and the teachers,” said Edwards, the incumbent. “I feel like we do need an educator on the board. We have lots of different occupations on the board, but I am the only educator.”
Ramsey said she wants to focus on preparing students for life after high school.
“My whole perspective comes from post-secondary education,” Ramsey said. “As we see graduates going into the work place, a lot of the (companies) are not very satisfied with some of the students that are coming in for employment. My goal is to not just focus on increasing the number of graduates, but increasing the quality of graduates.”
As an Easley resident with plenty of business experience, Whittemore said he believes he will be an asset to the board.
“I think my business experience is very important,” said Whittemore. “I’ve got a footprint in this community, and I served on the Easley City Council for a long time. That has helped me a lot to learn the community and have great insight into the City of Easley. I hope I get an opportunity to represent Easley in a very strong way.”
The three gave their view on what the role of a school board trustee should look like.
“The school (district) has a tagline on its logo that says ‘building success beyond the classroom.’ I want to build success beyond the board room,” Ramsey said. “I don’t want to be a board member who is just in the board room for just a once a month meeting. I want to be out in the community trying to encourage parents. Education is a lot less expensive than ignorance, and it cost what it costs.”
Whittemore said one of his biggest goals, if elected, would be to avoid raising taxes if possible.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve got a vocal group of citizens in Pickens County who are against raising taxes. That’s no secret,” Whittemore said. “It’s easy to spend other people’s money. When you’re in government, people sometimes do what they wouldn’t do with their own money. We’ve gone through some tough economic times, but this area is fortunate because we’ve had a lot of economic growth here. Hopefully we’ll be able to grow our tax base and continue on with programs.”
Edwards said the responsibility of the board begins with a responsibility to students.
“The responsibility of the board is to our children,” Edwards said. “Being there on the board is seeing, hearing, and knowing the things that are going on. It is knowing that we are doing the best for our children, and that they are getting the best education they can get. It’s hard to talk about raising taxes because nobody wants to raise taxes, but it comes down to need and what we have to do. To me, being responsible with the taxpayer money is being responsible with our buildings.”
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.