Race for school board swells to 17


Four candidates enter the race five open seats on the final day of filing

By Justin Vick
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Seventeen people are running for the Cabarrus County Board of Education — the most in 15 years, according to county elections director Linda Grist.

School board member Carolyn Carpenter attributes the high interest to having five of seven school board seats available in the Nov. 4 election. 

There would have been four, had Liz Poole not resigned in June. Plus, Lynn Shue will not seek re-election, ensuring at least two newcomers elected to the board. 

Carpenter said she is excited to see so many names on the ballot and can’t wait to learn more about what each could bring to the board. 

“We have some great incumbents who are running, but we also have some good, solid candidates running with experience,” Carpenter said. “With that will come fresh, new ideas.”

Four residents declared candidacy on Friday, the final day to file for office. They were Tim Furr, Thomas Hill, Rob Walter and Toni Wheeler-Jenschke. 

Furr, 49, of Midland, said he understands the main concern of the school board is academics, but he’d like to bring more awareness to members about the athletics side of education. 

He’s the athletic director for the Post 51 American Legion baseball team. Furr and others volunteered to the lead the organization when the 60-year-old Concord team was in danger of folding. 

Furr has also served as an assistant coach for Central Cabarrus High School’s football team, as well as other recreational sports teams. He is owner of Tafco Polymers, a plastics distributor based in Midland. 

“When I grew up, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of adults who took time with us, and this is part of giving back for me,” said Furr. 

Hill, 42, of Concord, said creative measures are needed when it comes to issues such as school construction and funding instructional technology.

“I want the residents in our county school district to have more control over their education,” Hill said, noting he’d like to inspire the business and faith-based communities to get more involved with schools. 

Hill finished fifth in the voting when he ran for school board in 2006. He also campaigned to become a county commissioner in 2002 and 2004. 

In May, Hill earned 30 percent of the vote against Sen. Fletcher Hartsell for his N.C.  District 36 seat. 

While the school board has a much smaller scope than District 36, Hill said he would advocate what’s best for the community to Raleigh and Washington lawmakers. 

Walter, 37, of Concord, is employed as aviation development manager at Concord Regional Airport. 

He’s never run for office, but is vying for school board seat because he’d like to help children reach their full potential. 

“I want to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and to help engage and involve parents in the education of their children,” Walter said, noting he’d also like to promote fiscal responsibility. 

Walter has two boys of his own, ages 5 and 6, who will attend W.M. Irvin Elementary School in the fall. 

He and his family have lived in Cabarrus County for more than 3 years. And he’s a recent graduate of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cabarrus program. 

He has created a campaign Web site, http://www.VoteRobWalter.org

Wheeler-Jenschke of Harrisburg also declared candidacy on Friday, but could not be reached for comment on her home or cell phone. 

Others on the ballot include incumbents Holly Blackwelder, Cindy Fertenbaugh and Wayne Williams, as well as challengers Lew Davidson, David Harrison, Mike Helms, Anna Hood, Blake Kiger, Anne Laukaitis, Wilma Means, Dr. Jan van Ravesteyn, Philip Stephens and Robert Tizon. 

• Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138.

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