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New supervisors, school board members elected

Charlotte County citizens elected new representatives to the Board of Supervisors and School Board on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 2.

In January, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors will kick off a new year with a new representative for the Red Oak/Wylliesburg district and the Phenix/Aspen District.

Hazel Bowman Smith will replace one-term supervisor Kay Pierantoni, who decided not to seek reelection as the Red Oak/Wylliesburg representative.

Bowman-Smith decided to seek the supervisor seat after serving on two committees appointed by the Board of Supervisors and being appointed for a second term on the Social Services Board representing her district.

With her years of leadership experience in Social Services, business management, budget preparation, policy formation, administration and holding positions on local and state boards, the newly elected supervisor said she felt like she was the right candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

“I am most concerned about the declining population and higher taxes,” she said. “Our young people have very little to keep them in the county. Lack of broadband Internet is a huge factor in our poor economic growth and lack of good job opportunities. These factors, of course, lead to higher taxes for the remaining citizens. When the schools were shut down last year, many of our students had to sit in vehicles in parking lots to complete their schoolwork. Seeing this broke my heart, and I hope to never see it again.”

In the Phenix/Aspen District, Walt Bailey will take his seat on the board after defeating one-term supervisor Donna Fore.

Bailey won the seat with over 60% of the vote.

Serving in his 38th year as fire chief of the Phenix Volunteer Fire Department, founding member, president of the Charlotte County Fire and Rescue Association and life member of the Charlotte County Rescue Squad, Bailey is no stranger to serving others.

“I have devoted my entire life to public service to the residents of this county, as well as working in various positions for the Town of Phenix to try to make the county a better place to live,” Bailey said. “Now, I would like to channel my time and experience to serve on the Board of Supervisors.”

A lifelong resident of Charlotte County, Bailey said planning for the county’s future is a top priority and one that needs to be taken seriously.

“I would like to see more effort placed in planning for the future rather than doing a budget from year to year,” Bailey said. “My goal would be to see budgets projected out for five years at a minimum. Our children are our greatest asset, so I want to make sure this county continues to have the finest educational opportunities without burdening them with future debt. I have built three profitable businesses and sold each one, so I have created jobs and know the responsibilities of signing paychecks.”

Bailey said the county must also work for economic opportunities by attracting businesses to the county to expand the tax base. He said an increase in broadband Internet access is a big part of that.

The Charlotte County School Board also had several seats with opposition up for election this November, including seats in Phenix/Aspen and County Seat districts.

In the county seat district, E. Ennis Jones took the seat over incumbent Carmalita G. Escoto with more than 60% of the vote.

This election was to fill the unexpired term that was held by Angela Cook.

Cook resigned in 2020, and Escoto was appointed to fill her position.

In the Phenix/Aspen District seat, incumbent Robert “Bobby” Johnson lost his seat to newcomer Elise A. Green who captured over 58% of the vote.

This will be Green’s first elected office.

The former Charlotte County Public School (CCPS) educator said she decided to run for the school board because she sees herself as blessed to have a wide range of experience and credentials in education.

“I want to use my skills and knowledge for the betterment of our schools, the children who attend them and the people who work in them,” Green said. “My oldest child will begin school next fall, and I hope to do all I can to ensure a safe, high-quality learning environment for her and her peers for years to come.”

Since 2014, Green has worked at Longwood University, where she is currently a senior lecturer of English as well as the university writing coordinator.