Voters pick Ellis-Stewart, McCray, Morgan for at-large seats

by Tori Hamby

Mecklenburg County voters had their plates full when it came time to choose candidates to fill three open at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

But voters managed to narrow down the field of 15 candidates and elect political newcomers Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Mary T. McCray, as well as current District 6 representative Tim Morgan.

Ellis-Stewart came out as the race’s frontrunner, earning 15.19 percent of votes. McCray got 11.42 percent, and Morgan claimed 10.77 percent, just edging out Elyse Dashew, who received 10.19 percent of votes.

McCray is a retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher, while Ellis-Stewart is parent who has volunteered much of her time at her children’s schools. Neither woman had run for office previously.

Morgan’s narrow victory over Dashew – by only about 1,300 votes – may have surprised some voters, since Morgan has served the past two years as south Charlotte’s school board representative. The board will appoint someone to finish out the remainder of Morgan’s District 6 term.

A little more than 16 percent of registered county voters cast ballots in the school board election, according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. Voter turnout was especially high in precincts 206 and 127, in Davidson, on the county’s northern edge, where 20 to 30 percent of voters cast ballots.

Some voters may have been looking to change the leadership and direction of the school board, especially its decision to continue with a controversial performance-based teacher compensation plan. But others, like Clay Furches, said they admire the work of some of the board’s current members. Furches said he agreed with the views and decisions of Kaye McGarry, an at-large member who decided not to run for re-election.

“I thought she inspired leadership, and I agreed with her standpoints,” said Furches, who voted at Hopewell Baptist Church, one of two Davidson precincts.

At-large board members Joe “Coach” White and Trent Merchant also chose not to seek re-election.

Voter Lilly Marshall said some candidates had platforms and ideas that were too unusual for her taste.

“There are some people who are a little too out there, and I wanted to make sure they didn’t get in,” she said.

Ellis-Stewart, McCray and Morgan all have a long road ahead of them. Their first task as board members will be to find a replacement for former superintendent Peter Gorman. They also will decide the fate of the board’s pay-for-performance plan.

Vote totals

These are the final election results for the three at-large school board seats:

Ericka Ellis-Stewart 35,265

Mary T. McCray 26,571

Tim Morgan 24,859

Elyse Dashew 23,518

Aaron Pomis 21,439

Larry Bumgarner 14,209

Keith Hurley 13,509

Darrin L. Rankin 13,570

Ken Nelson 12,441

Lisa Hundley 11,344

DeShauna McLamb 10,435

Hans Peter Plotseneder 9,430

Lloyd Scher  7,686

Jeff Wise 423