Ken Richardson won the Republican nomination for the Horry County school board chair in a landslide Tuesday night, according to unofficial election results.
With 3,386 votes, representing 71 percent of the ballots, Richardson, an Horry-Georgetown Technical College board member and retired owner of Fowler Motors, beat out both District 5 board member Janice Morreale and retired teacher Pat Milley.
“It’s a blessing,” Richardson said. “The people of Horry County have been good to me. This sends a message that the people wanted a change and I’m glad that they think I could be that change. I had two good opponents. I don’t think you saw a lot of mud-slinging or anything in this campaign. I think we all had the children at heart.”
Morreale got 953 votes, representing 20 percent of the ballots in the unofficial count and Milley got 414 votes, representing 9 percent of the ballots.
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Morreale represents District 5 on the school board and is a paralegal with Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough.
Milley is a retired teacher.
Richardson cited his business experience as the reason he won, and said he wants to put police back in the schools.
“I think this was a movement,” he said. “I didn’t win by a few votes, I had a lot of staff behind me at the school district, I had a lot of teachers behind me, cafeteria workers, janitors, maintenance people, they just want to be heard, they want to be a part of it. I’ve got to let the board realize I’m not going to be the boogeyman they think I might be, but there are some things that we’ve got to be accountable to, to the taxpayers.”
Milley and Morreale both gave statements throughout the night as it became apparent that Richardson would win.
“I appreciate every vote that I got and the people who had confidence in me,” Milley said in a concession statement, adding that she hoped the district’s kids will get their “healthy happy schools” back.
“I hope our message will go forward and that eventually our children will be liberated,” Milley said.
In a statement, Morreale said, “As the District 5 board member, I’ll continue to be active in Horry County Schools and doing what’s best for all students.”
Despite the win, Richardson said he was disappointed in the voter turnout.
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, there are were 208,465 registered active voters in the county as of Wednesday. But only 4,780 voted in the primary, according to the Horry County Elections Commission. Those votes included some ballots cast with no candidate selected, said Horry County Elections Commission Director Sandy Martin.
No precinct had a voter turnout of more than 12 percent, according to county data.
“I was really disappointed in the voter turnout,” Richardson said. “But that being said, I’m going to be a good steward for their money.”
Richardson will face Democrat Heather Johnson in November’s general election.
The winner of the general election will take office in January 2019, but Richardson said he’s going to take a break from campaigning.
“I’m going take about a week off and do a little fishing, because I’ve never run for political office before and I didn’t realize it was this tough,” Richardson said.
Richardson said if he wins in November, he’ll resign his seat on the HGTC board.
The official results will be certified Thursday morning.
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian