Liberty County’s school board got a partial makeover Tuesday, when voters sent two outspoken incumbents home during the nonpartisan general election. A third incumbent did not run.
As the Liberty County School System faces the possibility of losing accreditation due to BoE actions, the only incumbent up for election to survive, board Chairwoman Lily Baker, managed a narrow victory over her opponent Scott Carrier.
District 4 incumbent Marcia Anderson did not seek re-election. District 5 incumbent Marcus Scott IV was defeated by newcomer Dr. Chante’ Baker-Martin 462-357. Board members have accused Scott of unethical behavior and violating system policies, which was also cited in an AdvancED report.
The day after the election Scott said he was, “not disappointed in the results but disappointed I was not able to come through for my great supporters and followers,” according to his Facebook post and during his Education Hotline broadcast Wednesday.
“You’re the real MVP for demanding accountability and transparency,” he wrote. “God’s plans never fail and I truly believe I can be more vocal and hold others accountable as an advocate for children outside the board seat. I will continue to do what is best for students.”
Baker-Martin said she was honored and excited.
“I am so grateful for my supporters’ enthusiasm and their belief in my vision in putting students first. I wish him best in his future endeavors,” she said.
Baker-Martin added that she wants to see the board and the system to move forward.
“I am looking forward to working with all of the members, not only to satisfy the mandates that have been set down by AdvancED, but really moving the agenda forward on behalf of the students. They deserve our full attention,” she said.
In District 6, Dr. Yvette Keel, who filed several complaints about the board’s behavior to AdvancED and the state attorney general’s office, fell short of re-election to Donita Strickland.
“I am very humbled and excited by the support from my constituents,” Strickland said. “The amount of support I got was incredible. I look forward to serving not only my constituents, but the students and the community as a team player.
Although the new board members will not be seated until January, Baker-Martin and Strickland both noted they would do whatever was needed to keep the system from losing their accreditation.
“I know we have parents and students who are worried about losing accreditation,” Strickland said. “It would be a big detriment to our county, community and our schools.”
Running for Anderson’s vacant seat was Karen Branson, Annette Payne and Jim Johns.
Payne (387) and Johns (371) forced a run-off with only 16 votes separating the two. That runoff is July 27.
The chairwoman won re-elction by 83 votes, 2,732-2649. Both Baker and Carrier said they knew it would be a difficult challenge and tight race.
“I really credit all this to God and my faith in God and to God be the glory,” Baker said. “I thank you for your support and I will do my best, my very best, to save our accreditation of our system. The children are the most important thing to me. I am excited about going forward.”
Carrier thanked his campaign volunteers and supporters.
“They did an outstanding job with all the assistance they gave me,” he said. “Thanks to all the supporters we had in Liberty County. We appreciate the fact that they had enough trust in us to vote for us.
Carrier said he would do everything needed to support Baker and the board.
“I want the same thing, which is to move the Liberty County School System forward,” he said. “And I’ll do anything that I can help in that process...”
Carrier noted the new board members will bring new perspectives.
“I think it will help the entire board in its process of moving forward to work on the AdvancED directives.”