Orange County school board gets two new faces, two familiar

May. 06, 2014 @ 10:33 PM

Incumbents Donna Coffey and Brenda Stephens secured two of the four Orange County Schools Board of Education seats that were up for grabs in Tuesday’s election, while newcomers Tom Carr and Rosa Williams took two others.

According to unofficial results, Carr was the top vote-getter with 5,667 votes, or 22.8 percent of the total. He was followed by Stephens, who got 5,320 votes, or 21.4 percent of the total, Coffey with 20 percent or 4,964 votes, and Williams with nearly 15 percent,  3,716 votes.

Carr is retired after 30 years as a counselor in the school system. He said that his “biggest issue” is teacher morale, and after he takes the job, he plans to be visible in the schools.

“All the Common Core stuff, more testing, more paperwork, more training, more meetings…while their salaries are remaining a little stagnant,” he said. “I’m ready to jump in,” he added..

The other newcomer to the board is Rosa Williams, who works as a billings manager for City of Durham water management. With three children graduated from school, she said the “time is right” for her to give back.

After the results came in, Williams said she was happy. While she said she will be a part of a board, she, personally, wants to focus on the achievement gap.

“(To) come up with a way … to improve that some in the county,” she said.

Stephens is a former library director and who now works in guest relations at Durham’s Museum of Life and Science.

Attempts to reach her for comment were not successful. However, her campaign website said she wants to make a difference for young people and believes challenges facing schools include violence and retention of quality teachers.

Coffey, who works as administrative assistant for the N.C. State Board of Environmental Health Specialists Examiners, was elected to her second term.

Coffey said she was humbled and honored to be re-elected.

“I believe Orange County has all of the components to be successful,” she said. “I would just like to move forward with ensuring that our district will continue being successful as it has in the past,” she added.The two other contenders were Michael H. Hood, a retired computer professional who advocated for fiscal controls for the system and a focus on the achievement gap, and Greg Andrews, the owner of construction of real estate companies. Andrews’ platform included a focus on common sense in decision making and support for athletic and agriculture programs.

Andrews said in response to the results that he doesn’t know if he plans to run again.

“I (need to) take the time and look at the amount of support I’ve got in there, and just reformulate a plan,” he said.