School Board races heat up

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, July 10, 2018

WINDSOR – Following Friday’s deadline the Bertie County Board of Education races come November will present voters with several choices.

Two incumbents will face challengers while another candidate is hoping to make a return to the Board after a four year absence in one of two non-partisan county elections that will appear on the November ballot.

Incumbents Emma Johnson and Norman Cherry have filed for re-election, while Rickey Freeman – who lost a re-election bid four years ago – is hoping to claim one of the three available seats on the board when the new board is sworn in come December.

Cherry, a former Bertie County Commissioner, serves District 4 on the school board. He succeeded then-board vice-chairman Barry McGlone following McGlone’s untimely death in March of this year. Currently, Cherry is director of the Bertie campus of Martin Community College. He is also a retired teacher, principal, and administrator in the Bertie and Martin County school systems.

Two of the people who interviewed with Cherry for the school board vacancy following McGlone’s death have now filed for the same seat in their own right.

Former school board member and Kelford agri-businessman Alton Parker filed on Thursday ahead of the July 6 deadline. Parker served two prior terms (2006 and 2010) on the board before opting not to run in 2014.

Earlier, Vivian Saunders, founder of the alternative school, The Hive, and former Family Resource Center director, filed for the seat. Saunders is known as an advocate for children and families.

Johnson, a retired educator who chaired the board back in 2014 prior to her last re-election bid that same year, will be seeking to retain her District-3 seat. The Aulander native was first elected to the school board back in 2008. Originally, Johnson was chosen to fill out the unexpired of Michael Bracy, having been appointed to the seat after Bracy’s resignation. She ran for her first, four-year term in 2010.

Christine Dudley, also from Aulander, has filed to oppose Johnson. Dudley is, like Johnson, a former educator. She also worked with the Head Start program and the Project Parenting program through East Carolina University. Most recently, she headed the South Aulander Child Development Center.

Freeman, also a former school board chairman, is currently the Emergency Management/Environmental Health & Safety Coordinator for Elizabeth City State University and the former Bertie Emergency Management Coordinator. Freeman ran unsuccessfully to retain the District-2 school board seat in 2014, and was defeated by Jo Davis Johnson. Johnson opted not to file for re-election after serving just one term on the board.

Meanwhile, two seats for Bertie County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors will be elected during the November 6 General Election. Those seats are currently occupied by Robert Hoggard and James Pugh. Pugh has filed for re-election to a third term. Meanwhile, William Blount Knowles is currently the only candidate to file for the other seat.