UPDATE: Democratic candidate withdraws from Horry County School Board chair race
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Democratic candidate in the race to become the next Horry County School Board chair has withdrawn from the November general election, according to a news release.
Heather Johnson announced her decision on Tuesday, virtually guaranteeing victory for the Republican candidate Ken Richardson.
"First, I tend to be both a social and fiscal conservative - but I filed as a Democrat believing that I would have a better chance to make my case and discuss the issues against a single opponent in November than in a crowded primary in July," Johnson explained. "Because I am not a politician, I was naïve in that, even if voters on both sides of the isle favor my candidacy, "Straight-Ticket Voting" (pushing the "R") assures a Republican victory in November."
Johnson said she believes party affiliation should not be a significant factor when running for or voting on school board positions.
"Given the historical data, as far as my chances of actually winning and coupled with the bombardment of negativity and messages, I think I can better serve in a different capacity as far as my time, energy, money and I am determined I am going to help these children."
"Secondly, dragging this decision out another 4 months only delays the inevitable coronation of Ken Richardson as Chairman." she emphasized. "I have personally offered my assistance to Ken to serve as a liaison concerning teacher insight and student needs. I'm hopeful that the Board and Mr. Richardson can find a way to begin working together immediately. Our children deserve no less."
Johnson added, "In all fairness it is best for me, Ken can go ahead and roll up his sleeves and start forming relationships and he'll be ready to roll in January."
Johnson plans to still be involved with Horry County schools and attend the board meetings. She also hopes to have a working relationship with Richardson. "I think I could be a valuable asset to Ken. I completely respect him, I think that he has an excellent business background and he's dealt with very large numbers and he is probably better equipped as far, but as that aspect but the education side of it I really can bring a lot value to the table." She added, "I have absolute faith in Ken Richardson, I think he is an outstanding man and I think will do an excellent job."
"Finally, I didn't enter this race to gain political power or notoriety," she added. "I did it because I'm a mother and a former teacher and I am concerned that we are losing a generation of young Americans. Communication skills, fundamental manners, self-value and authentic respect for others are items that are being lost in today's fast-paced digital society. I want to use my time, money and energy efficiently to champion change on this front."
Ken Richardson responded to Johnson's withdrawal. He said, "I think this shows that Heather is not a selfish person and she is trying to do what's right for the children." Richardson is going to focus on getting ready to serve as Chairman and meet the needs of the school board. "I am going through the agendas and luckily they video the board meetings and I am watching the video tapes, going back two years and I have about three more years I want to go back. I want to get familiar with some of the current board members and I am looking forward to that," stated Richardson.
Statistically, Richardson said a Democrat hasn't won a county wide race in more than 25 years and thinks Johnson realized that too. "There's 230,000 registered voters in Horry County, 5,000 voted, so I'm going to represent the people that didn't vote just as much as the ones that did." As far as Johnson's involvement, Richardson said, "She has a good platform and she has a passion for it and I am going to certainly reach out to her, I think Heather brings a lot to the table."
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