A development director and the mother of a Lexington-Richland 5 student had a commanding lead in the race for an open seat on the school board.
Tifani Moore, who served on the school improvement council at Dutch Fork Middle School, emerged as the clear favorite for the seat when the votes were counted on Tuesday
Moore led with 56% of the vote to 37% for Haley Griggs, a nurse practitioner, and 7% for Jeff Herring, who works in real estate.
The results will be finalized on Thursday, when the Richland County Election Commission will meet to certify the results and review fail safe and provisional ballots. Moore will represent the Richland County side of the district until after the 2022 general election.
Tuesday's vote was called after a dramatic string of events. Former board member Ed White resigned mid-meeting in June over the school board's handling of its relationship with then-superintendent Christina Melton. Melton emotionally announced her own resignation later that evening, only a month after she had been named South Carolina's superintendent of the year.
The resignation exposed a deep rift in how the board operated and in its relations with the then-administration. White accused board members Nikki Gardner, Catherine Huddle and Ken Loveless of bullying Melton and creating a "hostile and abusive work environment" for the superintendent. Emails released by the district show an often tense relationship between board members and Melton as they took different views on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lexington-Richland 5 has since named Akil Ross, a former national principal of the year from his time at Chapin High School, as the district's interim superintendent. The board continues to search for a full-time superintendent.
Griggs had been endorsed by Huddle and current school board chair Jan Hammond in the race. A fourth candidate, recent Spring Hill High School graduate Joshua Lazenby, dropped out of the race in September and endorsed Moore for the seat.