West Ashley school board seat decided by proxy votes

West Ashley school board seat decided by proxy votes
March 28 13:25 2019 Print This Article

The Charleston County Legislative Delegation voted by a narrow margin Monday to recommend Chris Fraser to fill the West Ashley school board seat vacated by Charleston County Register of Deeds Michael Miller. The recommendation was forwarded to Governor Henry McMaster, who has the authority to fill the seat until it expires in December 2020. Fraser’s winning margin hinged on proxy votes, many of which were delegated by legislators who reside outside of Charleston County.

The Charleston County Legislative Delegation consists of eight State Senators and 14 State Representatives whose districts include any part of Charleston County. Its votes are calculated on a weighted algorithm based on what percentage of Charleston County registered voters reside within the legislators’ districts. The delegation’s rules allow any member to designate a fellow legislator to cast “proxy” votes on their behalf during the meeting. The proxy authority may be submitted to Charleston County staff or the delegation Chair by e-mail or text message.

There were seven candidates for the vacant school board seat, which includes West Ashley and the sea islands. Each candidate was given three minutes to make their cases to the legislators who were present. Of those, candidates Fraser, Eric Jackson and Paul Padron were nominated for the seat. Representatives Leon Stavrinakis (D-West Ashley) and Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island) e-mailed their intention to abstain from voting via e-mail. During the first round of voting, it was determined that Senator Paul Campbell (R-Goose Creek) had not submitted proxy authority. Senator Larry Grooms (R-Daniel Island) quickly produced a text message from Campbell granting him proxy authority.

None of the three candidates received a majority of the weighted vote. Representative Peter McCoy initially cast his vote for Padron. Since no other legislators voted for Padron, the former CCSD principal and administrator withdrew his name from consideration. In a second round of voting, McCoy switched his vote, representing 5.3% of Charleston County voters, to Jackson. That brought the vote total to 48.1% for Fraser and 44.7% for Jackson.

After several procedural motions were considered and voted down, the decision was made to remove the weighted votes represented by Stavrinakis and Mace from consideration. That gave Fraser a 51.87% majority. All told, nine of the 20 votes cast were by proxy. Six of the nine proxy votes came from legislators who reside outside of Charleston County. The seat vacated by Miller has been vacant since early January.