CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are 18 people running to be school board members in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District. The open positions are District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5 and District 6.
There are four incumbents in the race: Rhonda Cheek (District 1), Thelma Byers-Bailey (District 2), Carol Sawyer (District 4), and Sean Strain (District 6).
RELATED: 2022 midterm election voter guide
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools could see as many as six new people representing the second-largest school district in North Carolina. Elections for school boards in the Charlotte area are nonpartisan. Nonetheless, over the past few years, it’s continually been more difficult to separate school board business from political and social culture wars.
School board meetings prior to COVID-19 were relatively mundane, sparsely attended and procedural.
During the height of the pandemic, meetings that historically would have a few dozen people watching online suddenly had thousands watching at any given time.
The race for the CMS school board in 2022 will arguably be one of the most consequential and watched.
CMS is continuing its overview of school boundaries and buildings in anticipation of the 2023 bond referendum. The new school board will also vote for the next superintendent of CMS at a time when most of its students are performing at levels below college and career readiness.
WCNC Charlotte Education Reporter Shamarria Morrison interviewed each candidate running for the school board about their positions on a number of critical topics facing education. Each candidate was given up to 16 minutes to respond to questions regarding the following topics: School safety, the CMS superintendent search, teacher and staff retention and CMS achievement scores.
HERE'S HOW TO FIND OUT WHAT SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT YOU LIVE IN (enter your address where you're registered to find out)
There are five candidates running in District 1. Rhonda Cheek is the incumbent.
Rhonda Cheek (Republican)
Melissa Easley (Democrat)
Hamani Fisher (Democrat)
Bill Fountain (Unaffiliated)
Ro Lawsin (Republican)
There are three candidates running in District 2. Thelma Byers-Bailey is the incumbent.
Thelma Byers-Bailey (Democrat)
Juanrique Hall (Democrat)
Monty Witherspoon (Democrat)
There are two candidates running in District 3. There is no incumbent.
Gregory "Dee" Rankin (Democrat)
Steven Rushing (Democrat)
There are three candidates running in District 4. Carol Sawyer is the incumbent.
Carol Sawyer (Democrat)
Stephanie Sneed (Democrat)
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon (Democrat)
There are two candidates running in District 5. There is no incumbent.
Lisa Cline (Republican)
Trent Merchant (Undesignated)
There are three candidates running in District 6. Sean Strain is the incumbent.
Sean Strain (Republican)
Michael Watson (Democrat)
Summer Nunn (Democrat)
How to vote
As a reminder, early voting in North Carolina starts Oct. 20 and lasts through Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 3 p.m. After Nov. 5, you may register to vote during the one-stop early voting period. This process is called “Same-Day Registration.” Complete details on registering to vote in North Carolina and the qualifications you need to meet can be found on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.
North Carolina voters are not required to show a photo ID. If you are a DMV customer with an N.C. driver’s license or DMV-issued ID, you may now register to vote or change certain parts of your registration online.
Contact Shamarria Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.