Voters keep same school board
By Sarah Nagem
Rowan County voters decided against making any changes to the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.
Incumbent board member Dr. Jim Emerson won more than twice as many votes as his challenger, Eric Trail, a school teacher in Cabarrus County.
Emerson was the only school board member who faced opposition. Incumbent board members Bryce Beard and Linda Freeze ran unopposed.
Emerson won 25,561 votes in the countywide election, compared to Trail’s 12,621 votes.
Emerson will continue to represent the eastern district of the county in his second term on the board.
Emerson, a former area superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, said his campaign received only $300 in donations for the race ó two from the N.C. Association of Educators and one from a former classmate.
He put out only a few signs, mostly in the yards of his wife’s family members.
“They were the signs I used last (time), four years ago,” Emerson said. “This is kind of a low-budget operation.”
Trail said he did not raise money for his campaign, and he did not advertise. He set up a page on the social networking Web site Facebook to get the word out, he said.
Emerson said board members might consider the lack of competition a vote of confidence from the public.
“Instead of people saying that people don’t want to run for the board, maybe it’s that they think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.
Emerson said he expected the local educator’s association to endorse his opponent. Trail, who used to teach in the Rowan-Salisbury School System, is a former president of the group.
Moving forward, the school board has a lot of “unfinished business,” Emerson said.
He said he wants the school system to improve student achievement, reduce the dropout rate and get a central administration office.
At polling sites across the county Tuesday, some voters said they weren’t familiar with the candidates for the school board.
Holly Greene of Rockwell said she wasn’t sure if she voted in the Emerson-Trail race.
“I don’t know. Probably not,” she said. “I was mainly coming to vote for president, and that’s it.”
Elizabeth Pierce said she couldn’t remember who she voted for.
“I just kind of picked some of that because I wasn’t very familiar with those,” Pierce said.
But other voters had personal reasons for their choices for the school board.
“I had him as a teacher in high school,” 25-year-old Taylor Corl said of Trail. “He’s a very good person. (I’m) confident in what he could do.”
Ann Watkins of Granite Quarry said she voted for Emerson.
“He’s a member of our church, and I know the whole family,” she said.
Even though Beard did not face competition in the race, he watched the results at the county administration building in Salisbury.
Beard won 34,169 votes. But 709 voters opted to write in another candidate.
That’s more than the combined number of write-in votes in the Emerson-Trail race and for Freeze’s seat.
Beard, who will start his second term on the board, he said he was not surprised by the number of write-ins.
“Yeah, I’m a very controversial character,” he said. “But you would think one out of 600 people would have the guts to run.”
Beard said he was happy the current board will remain together.
“Now we’re going to be able to continue things that are in progress,” he said.