Board delays ballot on replacing Murphy

tflach@thestate.comApril 15, 2013 

The Lexington-Richland 5 school board is delaying indefinitely an election to fill the post from which Kim Murphy was ousted.

No ballot will be set until after “final determination” of her legal effort to reclaim the position, school attorney Ken Childs told Richland County election officials in an April 4 letter.

It could take months to settle the battle, raising the possibility that the post will remain unfilled for much of the 18 months left in her four-year term.

Murphy is not seeking to prevent an election to select her successor.

“We’re in a wait-and-see mode on that,” said her attorney, Todd Kincannon. “I want to see how hard they try to bully her.”

But the other six board members plan to work with one less member for a while.

Setting up a ballot before the dispute ends “would be premature and in fact improper,” Childs’ letter said.

It’s up to school officials to decide when to seek the ballot, deputy county election director Garry Baum said.

Murphy was ousted after belated discovery that she doesn’t live in Richland County as required for the post to which she was elected in November 2010.

The decision came after state geographers found she lives just inside Lexington County instead of Richland County as long thought.

That finding came after political foes questioned county borders around her Chapin home.

Murphy says she shouldn’t have been ousted due to a survey error. She also alleges several procedural mistakes by the board in her removal.

A separate bid to adjust county lines to place her home in Richland County is pending. If successful, the move would put her in position to run anew for the post that she lost.

Murphy, a Tea Party favorite, often was at odds with the other six board members in oversight of classrooms with 16,000 students in Chapin, Irmo, Dutch Fork, Harbison and St. Andrews.

Her ouster was necessary due to nonresidency and is not political retaliation, other board members say.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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