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Three incumbents, one new candidate win Haywood School Board seats

With 10 candidates coming out for four seats on the Haywood County School board, the races was certainly a contested one, but there will be only one new face on the school board in the next term. Bobby Rogers, senior pastor at Dellwood Baptist Church, ousted incumbent Bob Morris for the Crabtree-Ironduff seat with 62 percent of the vote. 


“I feel humbled and of course excited about working with the board that’s been elected and those that are already serving and just trying to move the school system forward,” Morris said. 

A longtime friend of his opponent Morris, Rogers said he ran not to get Morris out but in an effort to practice what he preached when telling his congregation to get more involved and become leaders in the community. His priority as a school board member, besides climbing up the learning curve as quickly as possible, will be setting up some forums to give community members greater input into how the school system runs. 

“To God be the glory is all I got to say, because I didn’t campaign really so much as just tried to be who I am,” he said. 

Morris, meanwhile, said he feels like the seat is passing into good hands, and he’s not stressing about the outcome. 

“I’m blessed,” he said Tuesday night. “I got a good family. I got two beautiful daughters, a good job. Tomorrow morning I’m going to get up and go to work, just have a good day tomorrow.”

Fourteen-year incumbent Jimmy Rogers won re-election to the Clyde district despite some avid campaigning from opponents Candie Sellers and Wende Goode. Rogers took 44 percent of the vote, with Sellers getting 32 percent and Goode 23 percent. 

“I appreciate the support this county has given me for the past 14 years, and I’m planning to do more for the next 4 years for sure,” Jimmy Rogers said. 

Both Sellers and Goode said they plan to stay involved with school board happenings but congratulate Rogers on his win. 

“There was three of us running, and two of us were new and running against the incumbent, and I think that had an effect,” Sellers said on her thoughts on the outcome. “If there had only been two folks running, I think things would have been much closer, whether it was me or Wende.”

The Fines Creek seat also went to an incumbent, Steven Kirkpatrick, though he said this race against John Duckett was more of a cliffhanger than most he’s participated in during his 12 years on the school board. Kirkpatrick took 54 percent of the vote while Duckett held 46 percent. 

“It was a good race and I’ve talked to John while I was running, and he did give me a run for my money, but I come out on top,” Kirkpatrick said. 

Larry Henson took the Bethel seat a bit more handily, pulling down 50 percent of the vote with the rest split between two opponents, Jeremy Davis with 26 percent and Craig Messer with 23 percent. 

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work, staying at work I guess to say,” he said. 

In an uncontested race, Walter Leatherwood also won re-election to the Beaverdam district. 

The school board will have its work cut out for it over the next four-year term, with needed creativity centering on how to deal with declining state education funding over the past several years. Areas such as textbooks, teaching materials and teaching assistants have been cut heavily, so the new board will have to figure out how to make their dollars stretch as far as possible.

They’ll also have to work with the county, which appropriates local dollars to the school board using a funding formula created more than a decade ago. The incumbents running for re-election told The Smoky Mountain News in previous interviews that they felt it should be revisited and possibly tweaked to reflect the present situation. 

Other challenges facing the new board will include spurring community involvement in the schools and at board meetings and continuing to increase college and career training opportunities for Haywood County students. 



Haywood County School Board

Bethel District (one seat)

Larry Henson*7,402

Jeremy Davis3,890

Craig Messer3,453

Clyde District (one seat)

Jimmy Rogers*6,436

Candie Sellers4,666

Wende Goode3,393

Crabtree-Ironduff (one seat)

Bobby Rogers9,071

Bob Morris*5,499

Fines Creek (one seat)

Steven Kirkpatrick* 7,522

John Duckett 6,394

*denotes incumbent

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