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Olaf (Bud) Thorsen edged out current Brunswick County Board of Education member Ray Gilbert and candidate Tracey Danka, securing the Republican nomination for District 1 of Brunswick County Board of Education.
Thorsen, 50, served on the Board of Education from 1994-2004, and served as board chairman from 2000-2002.
“I hope to bring my experience back to that board,” Thorsen said. “I’m energized, and I know I’ve got the qualifications and the background. I look forward to being on the board again.”
Thorsen said one of his main goals if elected would be working to improve the image of Brunswick County Schools.
“We need to start stop letting negative things happen in our schools and focus on the positives,” he said. “We’ve got a good school system here; it just needs to be built up.”
Thorsen said while he plans to take a few days off, he will soon begin campaigning for the November election.
“It’s making calls, letting people know what my qualifications are, and getting them out to the polls,” he said. “I look forward to the November election.”
Thorsen will face Democrat John T. Jones, 75, who won the most votes in District 1. Jones beat out Inger Gause Marlowe for the Democrat nomination.
Jones, a former superintendent in Montgomery and Scotland counties, is no stranger to Brunswick County Schools, as he served as the interim superintendent.
“I feel good,” he said about securing the nomination. “I’m pleased the voters decided that I was the better candidate and just hope in the general election the voters will feel the same way.”
In a recent Beacon questionnaire, Jones said his first priorities as a board member would be to improve communication between staff and administration as well as between parents and administration, improve test scores, and reduce the dropout rate.
Jones said during the next few month, he will be out as much as possible, talking to people and learning what their concerns for Brunswick County Schools are.
“The Republican opponent [Thorsen] has been a board member, and he’s been on the board before,” Jones said. “He’s going to be a good candidate, and I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Voters elected Tom Simmons, 63, over Harry Martin as the Democratic nominee for District 4. Simmons, a retired principal, teacher, and coach, now acts as the deputy director of the STARBASE program, a hands-on educational program focusing on science, math, technology, positive personal goal setting, substance abuse prevention, and teamwork skills—a program that benefits fifth grade classes throughout Brunswick County.
Simmons said he’s pleased with the voter turnout, and tried to get his message out to the community and voters.
“I want to make a change in the thinking of the board of education,” he said. “I think the voters like the message. They’re ready to make a change.”
Simmons said if elected, he would work toward creating a “solid bond” between the board and county commissioners, and encourage the board to work “not just as Republicans and Democrats, but to morally do what we ought to be doing for the kids.”
Simmons said he visited about 18 of the 23 voting precincts Tuesday and thought the voter turnout was more than he expected.
“It was just really heartwarming to see that many people coming out wanting to see a change,” he said.
Simmons will face Republican incumbent Shirley Babson in November’s general election.
Candidates for District 2 ran uncontested. Democrat Christy Judah will face Republican Catherine Cook in November.