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Three most seasoned school board members up for election

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Three Pickens County Board of Education seats are up for election. These seats are currently held by the most tenured members of the school board - chair Daniel Bell, Post 2; Bryon Long, Post 3; and vice chair Delane Lewis, Post 5.

At their January board meeting, Bell announced that he will not seek reelection. Bell said the demands of the position are extremely time consuming and he would like to spend more time with his family. Bell has two children in the public school system.

Delane Lewis and Bryon Long could not be reached before press time for comment about their plans for the upcoming election, but board member Katherine White released a statement regarding Bell’s announcement.

“I understand Daniel’s decision,” White wrote. “This job does take you away from family and Daniel especially spends an exorbitant amount of time researching and gathering data. With that being said, there have been a lot of changes in the school district over the last year. The knowledge that he has gained over the last three years has not come easily and cannot be easily replaced. Daniel is a valuable asset to the board and knowing the challenges ahead for the district, I am hoping he may reconsider his decision.”

The election primary will be held May 22. Qualifying dates and times for the three school board seats and the Pickens County Commission District 1 Seat, currently held by Jerry Barnes, (all Republicans) have been set by the Republican party. Candidates for these offices can qualify at the Pickens County Elections & Registration Office Monday, March 5 – Thurs., March 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The office will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. 

School board qualifying fees are $50. District commissioner qualifying fees are $306. 

No Democrat has run for any of these seats in many years, if ever. The local party has not released any qualifying information.

A special election in Nelson to fill the council member seat vacated by Mike Haviland when he ran for mayor will also be held on May 22. Qualifying for this office is Monday, March 5 – Wed., March 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the office closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Qualifying fees are $25. 

According to Julianne Roberts, Pickens County Elections & Registration Office Director, she has heard nothing regarding the Jasper City Council seat currently held by Jim Looney. If Looney is appointed city manager and required to resign from his council seat, there would need to be a special election during the May primary to fill his seat. As of press time, Looney had not resigned.  

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