Filing for CMS school board ends with 18 candidates. Here’s who’s running

·3 min read

Four incumbents, the chair of the Black Political Caucus, a pair of African American Faith Alliance pastors and former educators are among the 18 candidates who will vie for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ board’s six district seats.

Election day is Nov. 8.

Incumbents Rhonda Cheek (District 1), Thelma Byers-Bailey (District 2), Carol Sawyer (District 4) and Sean Strain (District 6) will try to keep their seats. Cheek was elected to the board in 2009 and Byers-Bailey in 2013. Sawyer and Strain were elected in 2017.

At least two new faces will join the board — Margaret Marshall in District 5 and Ruby Jones in District 3 announced earlier this year they wouldn’t run for reelection. The at-large seats for board chair Elyse Dashew, Jennifer De La Jara and Lenora Shipp hold are not up for reelection this cycle.

BOE members make $1,574.33 per month. The board chairperson makes $1,967.91 per month.

2022 CMS Board of Education candidates

A map of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education districts approved in January 2022.
A map of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education districts approved in January 2022.

District 1: Northern Mecklenburg County

Rhonda Cheek is an incumbent who has represented District 1 for 13 years and a graduate of South Mecklenburg High School.

Melissa Easley is a former CMS science and social studies teacher who taught at Title I schools.

Hamani Fisher is a native of Queens, New York, and pastor of Life Center International.

Bill Fountain is a former high school educator and frequent speaker at school board meetings.

Ro Lawsin is a CMS parent, veteran and graduate of The Citadel.

District 2: Stretches from uptown to the Gaston County line.

Thelma Byers-Bailey is an incumbent and was elected to the board in 2013. She is a Charlotte native and graduated from West Charlotte High School.

Juanrique Hall attended West Charlotte High School and is a coach at the school.

Monty Witherspoon is a Charlotte native, a graduate of Olympic High School and pastor of Steele Creek AME Zion.

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District 3: Parts of northern and eastern Charlotte. Extends to the Cabarrus County line.

Gregory “Dee” Rankin is a former CMS educator and founder of the nonprofit Future L.E.A.D.E.R.S.

Steven Rushing. Information about Rushing wasn’t immediately available.

District 4: Starts on the east side of I-77 and stretches to the county line in eastern Mecklenburg County.

Carol Sawyer is an incumbent who was elected to the board in 2017 and previously served on the board’s equity committee.

Stephanie Sneed has served as a chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Black Political Caucus. She lost a bid for an at-large school board seat in 2019.

Clara Kennedy Witherspoon is a former school counselor and provided behavioral interventions. She retired from CMS in January.

District 5: Myers Park area, Providence High and Matthews.

Lisa Cline spent 39 years as an educator before getting involved in community issues such as saving the Olde Providence Park.

Trent Merchant is a Charlotte native and served on the CMS Board of Education from 2006 to 2011.

District 6: Southern part of Mecklenburg County.

Sean Strain is an incumbent and was elected to the board in 2017. Strain served for three years as a school leadership team member.

Summer Nunn is a CMS parent and served on a school leadership team.

Michael Watson. Information about Watson wasn’t immediately available.