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South Carolina Superintendent of Education candidates

Molly Spearman (R) is the current superintendent and is not seeking a fourth term. She was first elected in 2014.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBIA, S.C. —

A large number of candidates will be vying to become the next South Carolina Superintendent of Education. And the first hurdle will for them will be the June 14 primary. 

The current officeholder, Molly Spearman, announced last fall she would not seek another term in office after eight years in that role. 

An effort four years ago to make the position appointed by the governor failed, but lawmakers did add a new requirement. Title 59 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, passed in 2018, states candidates for Superintendent of Education must have a minimum of a master’s degree.

Three candidates dropped due to the lack of a  post-graduate degree before the primary. 

GOP Candidates

Bedson Travis (R)    https://bedsonforstudents.com/

Bedson is CEO of CNT Foundations A South Carolina native, Bedson grew up in Summerville and graduated from the College of Charleston with his bachelor’s in psychology.

He does not currently hold a master’s degree. 

His campaign states Bedson is currently pursuing a master’s degree and will have that degree prior to the general election. Bedson said if elected, his plan is to fight for dollars in the classroom and expand workforce development programs.

Bryan Chapman (R) 

Rev. Bryan Chapman has been a nonpartisan school board member for eight years at Florence school district 1.

As a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a hospice chaplain, as a pastor, as a bus driver, as a school board member for eight years, as a teacher for nine years, and as a businessman, my unique giftedness is what we need to have in Columbia   

Wants to increase teacher recruitment through incentives

Kizzi Gibson  (R)    https://www.kizzigibson.com/

A  teacher in Lexington County she holds a doctoral degree in education and is pro-life.

She is a member of Lexington Church of God where she is an active member and serves on the praise and worship team. 

Dr. Gibson is married to Mr. Jerry L. Gibson, and they have two children, David, and Alysia Gibson.

Kathy Maness  (R)             https://www.kathymaness.com/

Maness was elected to Lexington Town Council in 2004 and ran unopposed in 2008 and 2013.

She is  a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

She is married and has one daughter and two sons and a new baby grandchild.

Ellen Weaver (R)         https://ellenforeducation.com/

Weaver does not currently hold a master’s degreeShe stated her intention to earn the degree by the necessary date.

She is a proponent of parental choice and is opposed to teaching Critical Race Theory and federal health mandates. 

“After graduating from Bob Jones University in Greenville, I went to work for U.S. Senator Jim DeMint. As a lifelong learner, I’m pursuing a master’s degree in Management and Leadership that I will complete this year.”

Lynda Leventis-Wells (R)            https://lyndaforeducation.com/

Member of the Greenville County School District board of trustees, Leventis-Wells' current term ends in 2022.

She says no masks for students, no to Critical Race Theory, no mandatory shots for students and yes to school choice. 

Lynda and her husband, Alan, have a daughter, Katrina and a son, Jonathan.

Democratic candidates

Gary L. Burgess Sr. (D)  https://burgessforsceducation.org/about.html

Burgess is a native of Inman, South Carolina. Burgess is married to the former Quintella  M. Howard of Chicago, Illinois. They have three adult children: Lee, Alexandra, and Nathan. 

Burgess holds a South Carolina professional teaching license in the areas of teacher, principal, and superintendent as well as a doctoral degree. 

He served on the Anderson County School Board since 2010

Lisa Ellis (D) 803-231-8528     https://www.scfored.org/board

Born and raised in South Carolina, Lisa Ellis’ path follows the quote “Not all who wander are lost.” Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree in English from College of Charleston.  She has two master's degrees. 

She is in her 20th year of teaching as a journalism teacher at Blythewood High School. Lisa created the SC for Ed Facebook  and non-profit closed group as a community for SC educators.

Jerry Govan (D)          http://www.jerryngovan.com/

The second-longest-serving Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, he announced in May he would not seek re-election for his seat so he could run for this office. 

Govan earned his B.A. from South Carolina State University in 1982. He went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of South Carolina.

Govan is married with four children and three grandchildren.

Green Party

 Patricia M. Mickel  (GREEN) 

The Green party does not have a primary. Instead, it will be part of the general election in November. 

Mickel is a Chester, South Carolina, native who has taught both public and college students for the last 15 years. 

He wants more vocational classes.