The election marks a change of leadership for three school boards in the Charlotte area WFAE 90.7


This year’s election will change the leadership of three Charlotte school districts. The chairmen of the Union, Iredel and Kabarrus constituencies do not run for re-election, and all three run for district commissioners.

Union County School Board Chair Melissa Merrell served for eight years on the board of the region’s second-largest district. She is among 10 Republicans vying for the May 17 primaries for three county commissioners.

Merrell was a prominent leader during the pandemic years, when Union County was moving fast to minimize COVID-19 restrictions. The area made masks optional starting in August and tried to stop quarantine and tracking contacts before the state allowed it. At a time when school boards across the country have seen angry crowds weigh on the security of pandemics and other problems of “cultural wars,” Merrell was a center of praise and criticism.

Despite this – and despite the fact that Merrell spoke of threats against her and her family – she says this is not the reason for her decision. She says she just has time to take on a role that includes funding the school district, and another parent to try a seat on the board.

Union County is one of 42 North Carolina counties that hold guerrilla school board races. Vice President Katie Heintel is facing a challenge at the primaries from Republicans from Jessica Cook, a newcomer to Union County politics. All five places on the ballot there will be competitive races in the general election, including a seat in constituency 1, to which John Kirkpatyk IV, the only Democrat on the board, was appointed a year ago.

Three new members of the ISS board

There will be no incumbent in the three-seat ballot at the Iredel Statesville School Board. Guerrilla races in school boards are also held in this constituency, and since Democrats have not filed, the Republican primaries will decide who is vying for those seats.

Todd Carver ISS board.png

Schools Iredell-Statesville

Todd Carver

Chairman Todd Carver, a Republican who is finishing his first term on the school board, is running for the Iredell Board of Commissioners. Like Merrell, he says it’s a logical next step for him, rather than escaping the hot climate around the school board. But he said it could be a factor for others who chose not to run. Demonstrators who could not enter the hall for social and remote meetings at the September rally knocking on the glass door has not yet crashed.

“I don’t want to speak for them, but I would certainly say that some of them are disappointed with the times we are in,” he said last week.

Two Republicans will compete for 7th place in Carver County in the primary and for a place in the 1st constituency that releases appointed Brian Schumaker. Three Republicans have applied for a seat in District 3, where incumbent President Samuel Kennington is not seeking re-election. And two Republicans are vying for a seat in District 1. Brian Shoemaker, who was appointed to the vacancy in September, is not running.

In Cabarrus 11 are fighting for three places

Holly Grimsley Cabarrus School.jpeg

In the non-partisan race of the Kabarus County Board, There are 11 candidates in three open places. Among them are incumbent Laura Blackwell and Carolyn Carpenter, and chairwoman Holly Grimsley is running as a Republican candidate for county commissioner.

Grimsley served on the board of Cabarrus for 12 years. “It really paved the way for the transition to the district commissioner,” she said. “As you know, county commissioners control the budget of the school system.”

She said all departments that appear at school board commentary meetings are carried over to commissioners ’meetings. “They get virtually all of our public speakers and their extras,” Grimsley said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Gaston counties will open documents for non-partisan races in July.

A version of this report originally appeared in the WFAE weekly newsletter on Monday. Don’t miss the question – subscribe here:

The election marks a change of leadership for three school boards in the Charlotte area WFAE 90.7

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