Politics & Government

After SC Democratic candidate drops out, middle school teacher launches write-in bid

Write-in SC education superintendent candidate Michele Phillips launched a Twitter account and Facebook page after jumping into the race 2 weeks before Election Day
Write-in SC education superintendent candidate Michele Phillips launched a Twitter account and Facebook page after jumping into the race 2 weeks before Election Day

A South Carolina middle school teacher is hoping to make an impact with Palmetto State voters in the last two weeks before Election Day.

Michele Phillips, a sixth-grade teacher at Orange Grove Charter School in Charleston, has announced a write-in bid to become South Carolina’s next state superintendent of education. Phillips launched a social media campaign Saturday, complete with a reminder of how to spell her name.

“We’re not writing off this election. We’re writing in Michele with one L and Phillips with two,” Phillips says in a video announcing her campaign.

Phillips launched her campaign the same week the official Democratic candidate to run South Carolina’s K-12 schools, former professor Israel Romero of Spartanburg, withdrew from the race after it was revealed he was convicted of a felony charge in 2008 that would disqualify him from taking office if elected.

Romero served time for unauthorized practice of law, the Anderson Independent Mail reported.

Romero’s withdrawal left incumbent Republican Molly Spearman of Saluda otherwise unopposed for a second term as head of the state’s Education Department.

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Despite his withdrawal, Romero’s name still is listed on the ballot. Absentee voting in South Carolina has already been open for two weeks.

“I like Molly Spearman, but democracy only works when voters have a choice,” Phillips writes on her Facebook page. She says she wants to focus on funding inequities among S.C. schools and “make advocacy for teachers and children a top priority.”

The social studies teacher is also a professional development coordinator with the Charleston County School District and a former assistant professor at the College of Charleston, according to a resume posted on her campaign page.

“I taught with Michele at the College of Charleston, and I don’t know a better person for this job,” Emily Neil Skinner, an associate professor in teacher education, said in a statement from the Phillips campaign. “She is informed, passionate, and an advocate for students and teachers.”

While she has a short period of time to get her name out to voters, Phillips said in her announcement she looks forward to using social media to engage directly with voters, “in addition to starting a unit on ancient Egypt this week with my sixth graders.”

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