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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Three New Faces On CMS Board; Voters Easily Approve Bonds


Updated at 12:07 a.m.

A third of CMS school board members will be new next year, but it’s unlikely that’ll mean much of a change in the board’s direction. 

The southern half of the county has three new representatives. Long-time education activist Carol Sawyer won district 4, which includes most of east Charlotte. She pushed the board to create more socio-economic diversity as part of its student assignment plan.

Another person vocal throughout the assignment process will represent district 6, which includes Ballantyne, Matthews, and Mint Hill. Sean Strain created a group to advocate keeping successful neighborhood schools as is.

Margaret Marshall easily won district 5 and will represent south Charlotte.

The board members currently representing these districts decided not to run. All three endorsed the winners who will replace them. 

Incumbents Ruby Jones, Thelma Byers-Bailey, and Rhonda Lennon won their districts.

Lennon had campaigned against the CMS bond package. It easily passed, although a handful of precincts, which she represents, voted against it. 

Updated at 10:04 p.m.

A challenge by northern Mecklenburg County leaders to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools' $922 million bond package fell short Tuesday.  With 189 of 195 precincts counted, 72.6 percent of voters supported the bonds, which will go to build 17 new schools and renovate others.  Meanwhile, the three incumbent school board members were close to winning re-election, and voters picked three new members as well.

Incumbents Rhonda Lennon in District 1 and Thelma Byers-Bailey in District 2 both were easily re-elected.

Lennon had 43.2 percent of the vote, to 27.1 percent for Annette Albright and 22.6 percent for Jess Miller.

Byers-Bailey had 57.4 percent, defeating challenger Lenora Shipp who had 41.7 percent.

In District 3, Ruby Jones had a closer race. She had 29.5 percent to lead challengers Janeen Bryant, with 24.2 percent, and Blanche Penn, with 15.2 percent. 

Newcomers were headed to victory in three other districts:

  • District 4 - Carol Sawyer had 47.9 percent to 30.9 percent for the next closest finisher Stephanie Sneed, with 30.9 percent.
  • District 5 - Margaret Marshall was headed to victory here, with 64.1 percent of the vote, ahead of Jeremy Stephenson and Jim Peterson.
  • District 6 - With 29 of 31 precincts reporting in this district, Sean Strain had a big lead (56.7 percent) over Allen Smith (42.4 percent). 


Posted at 8:59 p.m.
Early voters gave a big show of support for the $922 million bond package for Charlotte-Mecklenburg school construction and renovation projects.  Meanwhile, the three incumbent school board members running again were leading their re-election races.

Incumbents Rhonda Lennon in District 1 and Thelma Byers-Bailey in District 2 both had comfortable leads after the early votes were posted. In District 3, Ruby Jones was facing a closer challenge from Janeen Bryant, 26.7 percent to 24.8 percent, with Blanche Penn third, at 21.5 percent. 

The results so far include only early votes, with full precinct results still flowing in. 


NCSBE.gov, N.C. State Board of Elections page, live searchable results 

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.