Bonnie Sanders Johnson faces tough race

Published 1:58 am Sunday, September 26, 2010

District Two Pearl River Co. school board member Bonnie Sanders faces three opponents in a Nov. 2 Special Election for one of five board seats.

The three challengers are Michael F. Holmes, Ryan H. Richard and R. Jeremy Weir.

The Nov. 2 Special Election will place Sanders in the middle of her first actual political campaign for public office.

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Last year Sanders was appointed by the board and sworn in as interim District Two board member until a Special Election could be held to fill the unexpired term of Byron Stockstill, who resigned on Aug. 15, 2009, from the District Two seat.

The Special Election is being held in conjunction with the Nov. 2 General Election.

Stockstill’s unexpired term has one more year left on a six-year term, so whoever wins on Nov. 2 will face another election next year.

Whoever wins on Nov. 2 must get a majority of votes cast, 50 percent plus one, and if no one does that, the top two candidates will meet in a run off three weeks later, on Nov. 23.

Weir is the former Blue Devil head football coach, who recently resigned. He currently is an assistant coach at Stone County High School, but he still lives in the PRC school district so he is eligible to run.

Friday, Sept. 3, was the filing deadline so the field for the District Two race is complete.

Some observers say the District Two race might be considered a referendum on the how the public thinks the board is doing, but Sanders, a safety engineer at Stennis, disagrees. She says that there are 1,801 registered voters in District Two and the race pertains only to the candidates and how voters perceive their qualifications for the job.

She said that she plans to see as many voters as possible, that her first year on the board has been a learning experience and that her interests are in improving the math and science culture at the school.

“We have to prepare our students for college, if that is what they want to do. And parents must take a more active part in their children’s education and be aware of what goes on at the board meetings,” she said.

Sanders also pushed for recalling the school budget and pushed through a reduction that saw millage reduced from about 5.11 mills to 3.66 mills, which saved taxpayers some money in the district.

The Pearl River County school board manages the Pearl River County school system which is located in the central portion of the county with campuses at Carriere, McNeill and Burgetown communities.

Three opponents are a lot for a school board race, however.

The only one of Sanders’ three opponents to responded to call from the Picayune Item was Holmes, who chargee the board is not listening to the people and points to the budget public hearing that he attended. He said citizens wanted the cash reserve used and then taxes applied, if needed. He said a disagreement over a dress code issue and the public hearing, during which he charges he was thrown out, or asked to leave, triggered his decision to run. Holmes is 36, works at Stennis and lives in Apple South.

The Item tried to get in touch with the other candidates but they did not return a telephone call.

All five positions on the Pearl River Co. school board, plus the superintendent’s position, are elective. Only Sanders’ seat is up for election on Nov. 2.