HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Schools will soon have a new leader.
There are four people running for school board chairman and WMBF News is profiling each Republican candidate ahead of the election.
Ken Richardson is one of the three GOP candidates asking for votes. He said he brings more than 40-plus years of experience to the table and things like a balanced budget and transparency are a must if he's ultimately elected.
"We have to be good stewards of that money and be accountable. Somebody has to be accountable," Richardson said.
He has 20 years of experience on the Horry Georgetown Technical College board and 16 of those years he served as chairman.
"Gov. Henry McMaster just appointed me to the HGTC board last month for another three years. Unfortunately I will have to resign that seat if I get elected," Richardson said. Being on that board has been great. I've given them 20 years and I hope I can give Horry County School Board some time and do good with them."
Richardson announced he was running for HCS chairman a year prior and fully planned to run against Joe Defeo in the next election.
Defeo died earlier this year.
"That was a very, very unfortunate thing that happened with Joe and you hate to hear that," Richardson said.
He is up against GOP candidates Patricia Milley, Janice Morreale, and Democratic candidate Heather Johnson, who is running unopposed.
"I tell people there are four people you have to be accountable to - the children, the parents, to the teachers, and to the taxpayers," said Richardson.
Speaking of taxpayer money, Richardson is all for the one-cent penny sales tax referendum.
"I can tell you if people of Horry County were to lose the one-cent penny sales tax it would be devastating to the school system. The Horry County School Board received $800 million of the last penny sales tax," he said. "That [referendum] opens up and frees money that we can use to give teachers more money, give cafeteria staff more money, janitorial staff, any employee at the school more money."
Richardson's stance on safety is bringing back police officers in schools.
"If I get elected, I am going to do everything I can to put police officers back in the schools. That's the No. 1 thing for me," he said. "You hear all the time people don't respect officers or respect the uniform, things like that. I mean I think you need to start these children early. A policeman is not a bad guy; they can be good guys."
Richardson said officers need more training in identifying bullying in schools, which he believes is a problem.
"We've made the transition to put non-police officers in the schools and we need to transition to put them back," he said.
For Richardson, he is rooted in the Horry County school system.
"I came up in the school systems in Horry County. My children came up and my grandchildren are in the school systems in Horry County," he said. "When I pull up and drop them off - my grandsons at school - I want to feel like they are in a safe secure environment."
As far as the 800 new students per year Horry County is seeing, Richardson noted it's a testament to how fast the county is growing.
"We can't be playing catch-up. We have to think ahead and you have different areas growing faster than other parts and we have to adjust to that," he said.
Richardson said he makes himself available and during his campaign, he's heard from teachers.
"I thought teachers' biggest thing was pay. It's not. I have more teachers complain about their school day than pay. They are overloaded and being strangled. They need to be set free," he said. "You don't know how creative a teacher can be. If you get that, you'll get a happier teacher and a happier student."
Richardson said his leadership experience on the HGTC board allowed him to understand how government and implementing laws work.
"Some of my opponents may feel differently, but if I am elected we have laws and are mandated through the government, whether state or federal. I have to go by the laws that are in the books today and run school board that way. I can't go by laws I wish we had. I've been on Horry Georgetown Tech for 20 years and I had one law that got changed and it took me five-and-a-half years to get changed," Richardson said.
The GOP primary election is Tuesday, July 17.