December 1, 2015

Orangeburg legislator is late entry into SC education superintendent’s race

Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg (File)

Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg (File)

A state legislator from Orangeburg said Tuesday that he will be an “advocate” for education in South Carolina if he is elected to the state’s top education post later this year.

State Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg threw his name into the ring this past weekend as the fourth Democrat — and 13th candidate overall — to run for South Carolina’s top education post. Govan said Tuesday that he plans to hold a formal press conference next week to lay out his campaign platform.

Govan has served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for 22 years, with most of that time spent in the House Education and Public Works Committee. He works as the Orangeburg County Attendance Supervisor in his private life, but has previously worked as a teacher and said he is currently working on an additional postgraduate degree as an education specialist.

“I don’t believe that you can serve unless you believe in what you’re trying to sell,” he said. “I think it’s important, if you look at where we’ve been and where we’re trying to go, that we have someone that truly believes in the public education system as head of it.”

Govan is the fourth Democrat to enter the race, but is the only one currently holding elected office. He will seek the party’s nomination against former state Office of School Transformation director Montrio Belton, Florence County Democratic Party chair Sheila Gallagher, and former SC State University dean of graduate studies Tom Thompson.

Eight Republicans are in the race, along with one candidate from the relatively new American Party.

If Govan were to win, he could be the first African-American elected to a statewide “constitutional” office in South Carolina since Reconstruction. Belton and Thompson are also black, as are GOP candidates Gary Burgess and Meka Childs.

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