A Richland One school board candidate — who was virtually absent throughout the election season — pulled off a shocking upset in the scandal-scarred district and won a seat in its most competitive race.
Tamika Myers, who was one of six candidates vying for two at-large seats in the district, garnered a stunning 22,930 votes. Angela Clyburn, daughter of Congressman Jim Clyburn, swept the at-large race with a whopping 36,767 votes.
Myers and Clyburn, both political newcomers, ousted incumbent Jonathan Milling. Milling served on the school board since January after winning a special election in December 2019. In his short tenure, Milling fought for transparency and fiscal responsibility in Richland One — which is known for “lavish spending” and decreasing test scores.
Richland One is one of the largest school districts in South Carolina located in the greater Columbia area.
Richland One voters who spoke to FITSNews were not at all surprised by Clyburn’s win. Her father’s political influence in Richland County is unmatched.
But they were all stunned by Myers win.
“She came out of nowhere,” several voters told FITSNews.
If there was a political playbook for how to win a school board election, Myers did the exact opposite. And she won — in a very competitive election with more than 117,000 votes.
Compared to Clyburn, dozens of voters who spoke to FITSNews commented on Myers’ apparent absence from the campaign trail.
She didn’t have a campaign website or a Facebook page. We can’t find any evidence of Myers hosting campaign events and if she did, she did not disclose them.
In fact, she didn’t file a single financial report with the South Carolina State Ethics Commission.
Much to the contrary, Clyburn raised $13,395 in donations, while Milling’s campaign raised $23,835. Clyburn’s financial reports were very detailed —including gas money for campaign events, $16 spent on Zoom for campaign meetings, $154 for robo calls, $720 for social media services, etc.
Besides a handful of signs in the Lower Richland area (below), it appears Myers did not make much of an effort to rally her supporters. If she did make an effort, she did not disclose that in her financial reports — which is a legal obligation for political candidates in South Carolina.
When news broke Wednesday that Tamika Myers pulled off a major upset and won a seat on the Richland One School Board, several parents looked to her Facebook page to find out more about their new elected official.
Here are some screenshots obtained by FITSNews…. (they don’t really require commentary)…
The posts have since been scrubbed from Myers social media pages.
Several parents have posted the screenshots of Myers’ posts on Facebook, saying that they are concerned about her judgement and values.
“She was elected on a board with a budget of more than $300 million and responsible for 20,000 students — and she can’t even think to scrub her social media when she’s running for an elected position?” a Richland One voter told FITSNews. “That’s concerning, on top of the fact she didn’t disclose her campaign financials.
FITSNews reached out to Myers to ask her about these posts, her strategy for winning the election, and her goals as a school board member, but we did not hear back at the time of publication.
Perfect Promotions LLC is owned by Myers, according to the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website. She started the company in 2016.
According to a 2018 story in The State newspaper, Perfect Choice Promotions was wrapped up in the Pinewood Lake Park scandal. Richland County hired a non-profit to manage the park and Myers’ company was contracted to do promotions for the foundations events and ultimately her company billed Richland County taxpayers $38,000 for the work.
Richland County officials claimed that they were overcharged for the work and the foundation should have sought more competitive prices, The State newspaper reported.
Reporter Ron Aiken of Quorum Columbia investigated the extravagant costs further and found that Myers’ company charged more than $1800 for the design of the flyer and distribution of it on social media (shown below).
According to WLTX, Myers previously worked as the “activity director and program coordinator for Richland County Parks and Recreation.”
Breakdown of Votes
While Clyburn and Myers chose very different campaigning strategies, they appeared to appeal to the same voters.
Looking at a breakdown of precincts in Richland One, Clyburn and Myers were popular among the same voters in the same areas.
In nearly every precinct won by Clyburn, Myers took second place.
While Milling won more than 20 precincts, Myers only won one — and she won that precinct with just one vote over Clyburn.
In two precincts, Clyburn and Myers actually tied.
FITSNews has not seen any evidence of Clyburn and Myers campaigning together in any way.
So the question is: How did they both attract thousands of the same voters?
Compounding the already confusing situation, whoever sent out that mystery mailer in Lower Richland a few weeks ago did not promote Myers along with Clyburn.
The flyer — which appeared to be a democratic endorsement for three school board candidates, as well as others — was marked with a South Carolina Democratic Party (SCDP) return address and postal code.
SCDP officials denied sending the mysterious mailer and said they’ve asked the post office to investigate.
The mysterious mailer marked with the words “get in good trouble, vote” appeared to endorse two of the six at-large candidates — Raquel Thomas and Angela Clyburn — and seat 2 Commissioner Cheryl Harris.
The mysterious mailer was one of many dramatic events swirling around the Richland One school board election. Officials are still investigating the flyer.
The scandal-scarred Richland County school board has been rocked by controversy and allegations of misusing taxpayer funds this year, beginning with “JacketGate” in January.
Here are some links to previous coverage of the Richland One school district:
- Richland One Special Needs Student Assaulted, Harassed And Bullied, Lawsuit Says
- 5-Year-Old Richland One Student Frequently Sexually Assaulted On School Bus, Lawsuit Says
- Richland One Teacher Accused Of Snorting Drugs In Front Of Class Gets License Revoked
- Teen Who Was Stabbed Multiple Times At School Sues Richland One
- Richland One parents outraged Over ‘Choose To Be A Slave Or Slave Owner’ E-Learning Assignment
- Richland County SC Corruption: Calls For Investigation Ramp Up
- Richland One Chairman On Social Justice: Some Will Get ‘Caught In The Crossfire’
- Richland One Chairman Fined For Voting On $550,000 Contract Connected To Wife
- SC School District Accused Of Lavish Spending Recorded $20K Loss On Tax-Funded Black-Tie Event
We will continue to keep a close eye on Richland One… Stay tuned…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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