Voters Guide: 12 candidates running for SC schools’ chief

June 7, 2014 

The superintendent of education race is crowded: four Democrats and eight Republicans are vying for their party’s nominations. The nominees will face each other and American Party candidate Ed Murray in November. The issues have ranged from those who want to abolish Common Core education standards to one candidate who recommends the legalization of marijuana to help pay for the state’s K-12 education system.


Montrio Belton

Age: 41

Residence: Fort Mill

Occupation: Education consultant

Political experience: State director of school transformation under current Republican state Education Superintendent Mick Zais; unsuccessful run for S. C. House of Representatives, 2008

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Winthrop University; doctorate, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Twitter pitch: Want a next generational leader that is prepared to lead 21st century schools-vote for Belton for S.C. State Superintendent of Education

Sheila Gallagher

Age: 61

Residence: Florence

Occupation: Retired educator

Political experience: Former Florence County Democratic Party chair, unsuccessful run for S.C. House in 2010

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University, three master’s degrees from USC, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Winthrop University

Twitterpitch: 30+teachadvocate4ourchildrenasTheSCEAPrez/STEAM/K-3smallerclasssize/ $teach+ESupport/qualityaftschprograms/+discipline/novouchers

Jerry Govan

Age: 56

Residence: Orangeburg

Occupation: Orangeburg County school attendance supervisor; exclusive agent/owner Horace Mann Cos., The Govan Insurance Agency

Political experience: S.C. House representative for 21 years

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, S.C. State University

Twitter pitch: As a legislator, educator, and parent, I know firsthand what it will take to prepare students for a new & ever changing global economy

Tom Thompson

Age: 64

Residence: Forest Acres

Occupation: Doctoral specialization coordinator, Walden University

Political experience: Unsuccessful run for S.C. superintendent in 2010

Education: Bachelors, master’s and doctorate degrees, the University of Illinois

Twitter pitch: Unique background as teacher, principal, professor and dean; doctorate and training from Harvard & USC; priorities = early childhood education, school safety, community involvement.


Sally Atwater

Age: 63

Residence: Charleston

Occupation: Retired special-needs teacher

Political experience: Worked for the U.S. Department of Education during President Ronald Reagan; worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Winthrop University.

Twitter pitch: Voice 4 the classroom, 4 safer schools, 4 more choice, 4 families! VOTE 4 Spec Needs TEACHER @SallyAtwater #SayNO2Educrats #StopCommonCore

Gary Burgess

Age: 56

Residence: Anderson

Occupation: Chief executive and president, The Burgess Research Action Group

Political experience: Member, Anderson County school board, S.C. Juvenile Parole Board, John de la Howe school board of trustees; unsuccessful run for state superintendent of education in 2010

Education: Bachelor’s degrees, Wofford College; master’s and education-specialist degrees, Converse College; doctorate, University of South Carolina

Twitter pitch: Experienced, intelligent fighter. Fought the establishment and won. Will work to take our schools back from politically correct indoctrination

Meka Childs

Age: 36

Residence: Blythewood

Occupation: Former deputy superintendent of education under current GOP schools Superintendent Mick Zais

Political experience: Education adviser to Gov. Mark Sanford, served on Education Oversight Committee from 2008-2010

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Duke University

Twitter pitch: Vote Meka Childs for school choice, high-quality instruction, & fiscal responsibility. A vote 4 Childs is a vote for the children!

Amy Cofield

Age: 51

Residence: Lexington

Occupation: Attorney

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor’s, master’s degrees and law degrees, University of South Carolina

Twitter pitch: Only candidate with background in education and law background. Only Amy can argue education laws and work with legislature to advance them

Sheri Few

Age: 52

Residence: Lugoff

Occupation: Head, S.C. Parents Involved in Education

Political experience: Treasurer, past chairman and executive committee member, Kershaw County Republican Party; member, Governor’s Commission on Women; unsuccessful runs for office include Kershaw County School Board in 2004, and S.C. House in 2006, 2008, 2010

Education: Graduate of Woodbridge High School, Woodbridge, England

Twitter pitch: @SheriFew will #StopCommonCore, fight 4 free-market school #Vouchers & review textbooks 4 anti-American/anti-Christian bias & junk science.

Don Jordan

Age: 71

Residence: Columbia,

Occupation: Professor, University of South Carolina

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees, University of South Carolina

Twitter pitch: Dr Jordan says honor & respect the teacher and reach out to all students. It is important to find a long-term solution to tuition increases.

Elizabeth Moffly

Age: 53

Residence: Awendaw

Occupation: President and owner, Moffly Construction and Real Estate

Political experience: Member, Charleston County school board; three-time unsuccessful candidate for state schools superintendent

Education: Attended, Queens College in Charlotte and College of Charleston

Twitter pitch: She is calling for 10 pt grading scale, multiple diploma options, absolute parental rights and more school choice!

Molly Spearman

Age: 60

Residence: Saluda

Occupation: Director, S.C. Association of School Administrators; former teacher and school administrator

Political experience: Former state representative, 1992-98

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Lander University; master’s degree, George Washington University; education specialist’s degree, University of South Carolina

Twitter pitch: Republican, Parent, Teacher, and Principal w/ 35+ yrs experience. Fighting for better schools and a brighter future for all SC students.

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