Novice Wins Backing in Glynn Runoff; Mary Harris to Face Robert Strickland Nov. 23 for Seat on School Board

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski, The Times-Union

BRUNSWICK -- A political newcomer facing a runoff election Nov. 23 picked up new and renewed public endorsements Wednesday in her bid to finish an unexpired term on the Glynn County Board of Education.

Meanwhile, her veteran political opponent said he's confident that the momentum he built through Tuesday's general election will carry him on to victory.

In addition, the race highlights the influence, if any, of a grass-roots education political action committee which supported two candidates who won school board seats Tuesday.

Mary C. Harris, making her first bid for public office, will face Robert Strickland, a former county commissioner, in the runoff for the District 1 seat on the school board, which has been downsized under state law from 10 to seven members.

They are seeking election to the unexpired term of Linda Arbuckle, who died Feb. 13. That term will expire on Dec. 31, 2006.

Harris, 69, came in second behind Strickland in the general election. Although Strickland, 66, was the top vote-getter, he fell short of the ballots needed to win the seat outright, according to unofficial results.

Milton Lynn, who has served on the board almost four years, finished a close third in the non-partisan race.

Lynn's seat is among those eliminated as the board was downsized to five single-member districts and two newly created countywide at-large positions. Lynn, 52, will remain on the board until Dec. 31, when his term expires.

Harris said Wednesday that voters have demonstrated they want a change on the board, and will return to the polls to implement that change.

"A lot of people have paid attention and focused on the school board election. Voters will come back for the runoff because they realize this is a very important election to the future of our children," Harris said.

Strickland served eight years as a county commissioner. Citing his strong showing at the polls Tuesday, he was optimistic that support will continue.

"The Glynn County school system already is marching to a different drumbeat. Voters have gotten the incumbents out already and are ready to move forward," Strickland said.

Lynn attributed his defeat to a negative perception of the school board by the public. He was caught up in a public backlash from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' placement of the district's academic accreditation on probation for one year because of micromanaging and other misconduct by some board members. …