Grissett defeats Quarker Smith

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Incumbent Willie J. Grissett retained his seat on the Escambia County Board of Education on Tuesday night, holding off challenger Wilma Quarker Smith in the District 5 Democratic Party primary election.

With five of six precincts reporting in District 5, Grissett defeated Quarker Smith, 230 votes to 161. Grissett finished with 58.82 percent of the vote. The lone remaining precinct includes provisional ballots, which should not affect the final total.

“I would like to thank all of the voters who placed their support in me, both collectively and individually,” he said. “Our children are our most precious resource. We must continue to prepare them to be college or career-ready when they leave high school.

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“This means our schools must provide rigorous academics, career-ready technical skills and extracurricular programs to inspire and prepare our students to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Quarker Smith said she was concerned that Tuesday’s result showed that voters are afraid to embrace change.

“It seems like the voters are saying that our [low] graduation rate is OK,” she said. “That our [low scores] in reading and math are OK. We have eight superintendents in this county since the retirement of Harry Weaver, and if there is no stability in leadership, then there can be little accountability.

“We all know how people feel about change. Some are very afraid of it, but one day we shall overcome our fears.”

Grissett will retain his seat, because there is no candidate for the Republican Party in this race.

In the Republican Party primary race in Board of Education, District 1, Kevin Hoomes and Debbie McDonald Quarles qualified for a runoff. Hoomes finished with 49.91 percent of the vote, McDonald Quarles finished with 27.37 percent and former superintendent Randall Little had 22.72 percent.

The runoff election will be July 15. There is no Democratic Party candidate in the race, so the winner of the runoff will win the seat, which was previously held by Mike Goolsby.