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Horry County school board hopefuls gather

Some Horry County Board of Education candidates made their cases Wednesday before a group of retired teachers and the League of Women Voters.

"We're trying to get our members better informed about the issues that will be facing them," said Doris Hickman, president of the Retired Teachers of Horry County. "We are retired, but we are quite active."

The candidates responded to a variety of questions in a format that gave each of them a specified time to respond during the forum at Ryan's Steakhouse.

Those present were:

Democrat Sabhash Saxena, a retired Coastal Carolina University professor who will face incumbent Chairman Will Garland, Republican, on Nov. 2;

Harvey Eisner, Republican, District 1, who is running unopposed;

Incumbent Democrat MaryEllen Greene, District 2, and opponents Karen McIlrath, Republican; and petition candidate Rivers Lynch, a former teacher and coach whose students at Myrtle Beach High School started the drive to get him on the ballot;

Republican incumbent Joe Defeo, District 3, and his opponent, Johnny Evans, Democrat.

"We invited every single one of them," said Elizabeth Weems, chairwoman of the League of Women Voters.

The incumbents and the opposing candidates answered questions about funding, finances, teacher intimidation, accountability from top to bottom, making certain each child receives a quality education and more.

In response to a question about why South Carolina schools were near the bottom of the national list, Greene attributed it to all schools in the state being included in the numbers.

"If Horry County were a state, we'd probably be at 19. Our children's scores are at or above the national level," she said.

McIlrath said she came from a very frugal household, and on a budget of $500 million, only two thirds of Horry County students graduate with diplomas.

"As a taxpayer, I hope, like me, you want a better return on your investment," she said.

Lynch said, "I always think the students' needs come first and I think any issue that comes before the board should be based on how it will affect the students."

Lynch said there should be accountability from the top down, and there is an overlapping of jobs at the top.

"We've got to get off the negative aspect and concentrate on the positives, and Horry County has a lot of positives," Eisner said.