CMS Board of Education race results are in, multiple incumbents will be departing

CMS is welcoming many new faces to the Board of Education after the midterm elections
Community engagement sessions for the superintendent search are already in progress.
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 11:41 PM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The 2022 midterm election results are in and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will soon be welcoming new members to the Board of Education.

Tuesday’s midterm election saw the end of an era for multiple incumbent candidates and a fresh start for several newcomers.

A total of 18 candidates qualified for the midterm election for CMS’ six school districts.

Also Read: Democrat Jeff Jackson wins new North Carolina U.S. House District 14 race

Incumbents Rhonda Cheek (District 1), Thelma Byers-Bailey (District 2), Carol Sawyer (District 4), and Sean Strain (District 6) all hit the campaign trail this year while Dr. Ruby Jones (District 3) and Margaret Marshall (District 5) decided not to run for re-election.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s results, only Thelma Byers-Bailey clenched the majority vote to maintain her seat as the District 2 representative and Vice-Chair.

Melissa Easley secured the majority vote for District 1, with incumbent Rhonda Cheek conceding before 10:30 p.m.

“I am very excited, I feel truly honored that the voters have such confidence in me to help lead CMS into the future,” Easley said.

Easley is a veteran science and social studies teacher, the co-founder of North Carolina Teachers United, the largest pro-public education support and resource group in the state, a CMS parent, and a Charlotte resident.

Rhonda Cheek served in her position since 2009 and recently announced she would be seeking re-election in August after making a public statement in May saying she was going to retire. Cheek congratulated Easley and said she looks forward to this next chapter of her life at the conclusion of her term.

“I am very proud of the campaign I ran, with a positive message and being respectful to my opponents,” Cheek said in a statement to WBTV. “I am even more proud of all my accomplishments during my time on the board. While I will miss serving the community. I look forward to more time with family, pursuing my other interests and focusing in my nursing career. I wish Ms. Easley all the best in her service to District One and have already reached out to her to offer my help during the transition.”

Thelma Byers-Bailey received the majority vote over her other two opponents for District 2. This will be her third term on the Board. Byers-Bailey has served on the Board since 2013. She is a native Charlottean and a graduate of West Charlotte High School.

“I would like to thank the community and voters who believed in me and chose me to lead them once more and represent them on the school board. I feel very strongly about the student outcomes-focused governance that we brought to the schools,” she said. “We are using those schools as a model to pull them up by their boot stamps. It is a school effort, community effort, and parent effort. I am excited to watch it unfold. I think between the community, parents, and schools we will get our students back on track.”

She also said she is looking forward to the next bond referendum as it will affect the students for years to come.

CMS parent, former educator, and former CMS equity committee member Gregory “Dee” Rankin won the District 3 race with more than 76% of the votes over his opponent Steven Rushing.

“I really want to say I appreciate the community for seeing the handwork I’ve put in throughout the years,” Ranking said. “I look forward to working with the students, parents, and community in Mecklenburg County.”

District 4 incumbent Carol Sawyer fell to two-time challenger Stephanie Sneed. Sneed ran against Sawyer in 2017.

Sawyer was elected to the Board in 2017 and previously served on the Board of Education’s Equity Committee and is a co-founder of the advocacy organizations OneMECK and Mecklenburg ACTS.

Sneed is a CMS parent, a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus, served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Bond Oversight Committee, and is an active founding Board Member of the Charlotte Community Think Tank.

“I am looking forward to helping move CMS move forward and ensuring all of our students are college and career-ready,” Sneed said. “I think it’s time for us to have a collaborative effort from all stakeholders [including] parents, grassroots organizations, the corporate community, and all branches of local government to ensure the future of our students is secure and that they can compete in a global economy.”

The race for district 5 was tight throughout the evening, but ultimately Lisa Cline won over former At-Large member Trent Merchant who served on the Board from 2006-2011.

Cline has nearly 40 years of teaching and leadership experience within CMS where she taught multiple grade levels at several schools before retiring in 2019.

Summer Nunn beat incumbent Sean Strain for the District 6 position. Nunn is a CMS parent and recently served on the School Parent Leadership Team. She is also a marketing executive.

Nunn discussed increasing community engagement for the upcoming relief in High school and Elementary schools in South charlotte and the Ballantyne area.

Strain was elected to the Board in 2017 and sent his remarks to WBTV in a statement.

“I congratulate the new Board on their election to serve the youth of Mecklenburg County,” Strain said. “May it be the Mission-focused, student-centric, deliberative Board our youth, district, and staff desperately need to transform into the system our community needs and deserves.”

The new Board of Education members will be sworn in at the December 13 monthly meeting.