Smith wins school board seat

Published 1:35 am Sunday, March 4, 2012

     Erin Williamson Smith won a seat on the Brookhaven school board Saturday night, defeating Brookhaven’s former superintendent Lea Barrett by a vote of 311 to 152.

     Smith will replace Carl Aycock on the five-person school board. Aycock did not seek re-election after serving on the board 15 years.

     “I want to keep moving the district forward,” Smith said following her victory.

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     Smith also praised the turnout, relatively high compared to recent school board elections.

     “I’m just proud Brookhaven School District voters came out,” Smith said. “We live in a community where we value public schools.”

     In addition to the 462 counted votes, 26 affidavit ballots were cast but not counted. No candidates requested the affidavit ballots counted, as they could not have changed the outcome of the election.

     “I figured that’s about what we’d have,” said the board attorney Bob Allen. “That’s a good turnout.”

     Allen was glad the number of affidavit ballots wasn’t higher.

     “I was pleased with that because the district changed when the city expanded,” Smith said. “I was concerned voting rolls might have some problems.”

     Residents of Lincoln County outside the Brookhaven city limits but within the school district participate in school board elections.

     Saturday’s turnout well exceeds the 145 ballots recorded in the last school board election in 2007.

     There are approximately 4,300 registered voters eligible to participate in the school board election.

     When asked about her margin of victory, Smith said she had no expectations prior to the election.

     “There were two candidates that worked really hard,” Smith said.

      She did have some expectations about supporters she could count on.

     “I knew my Heucks Retreat people would come out,” Smith said.

     Barrett congratulated Smith after the vote totals were announced, but could not be reached for further comment.

     The next board meeting, and Smith’s first, will occur March 27. Smith will join Stan Patrick as the two elected members of the board. Brookhaven aldermen appoint the other three members.

     Smith plans to study up before her first meeting.

     “I’m going to review as many policies and procedures as I can,” Smith said.

     She’ll also be getting to know her colleagues on the board.

     “I’m going to be meeting some new faces,” Smith said. “I really don’t know them personally.”

     District superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya said she will miss Aycock’s presence but welcomed Smith to the board. Though Aycock had experience on the board, Karmacharya said there are other board members with much experience to offer.

     The superintendent was also encouraged that voter turnout increased over the last election.

     “It means the community has a vested interest in the school,” Karmacharya said.

     Karmacharya said with the election and its uncertainty over, the board can get back to business.

      “I’m glad its over so we can get started moving forward again,” Karmacharya said.