Challengers combine efforts to defeat incumbent

Voters will decide two seats on Graham school board.

Michelle Whitley Turner wants to serve another term on Graham’s school board, but two challengers are working together to claim the two seats that will be available this fall.

Steven Prince and Stephen Setty Jr. said they have different backgrounds, but they believe they’re able to run a more effective campaign by combining resources. They’re hoping to claim both seats that will be available Nov. 5 with the idea that although they have different styles, they’re seeking the same results in the district.

The second seat has been held by Brett Evilsizor. He decided not to seek re-election to his seat, which expires at the end of this year.

Turner has served on the board of education for Graham Local Schools for eight years. She didn’t expect to run for school board eight years ago, but she said the experience she’s gained since then will be beneficial as the district moves forward.

She began volunteering with the district several years ago and eventually was encouraged to run for the school board. While she said she was initially reluctant, she said the experience has been rewarding, and she wants to continue serving. Turner is also working to complete a PhD in education, with an emphasis on students with special needs.

The district has faced some financial issues in recent years, but Turner said she tries to make the best of what are sometimes difficult choices.

“Usually for me, it’s making the best choices of the ones we have,” Turner said.

Both Setty and Prince are Graham graduates and said they spent time earlier this year working with area families to determine what issues are important to voters in the district. Prince studied marketing and agriculture at Wilmington College and eventually became a full-time farmer in the area. Setty studied mechanical engineering and works in Kettering at the BWI Group, where he works in auto engineering.

While both have different backgrounds, Setty and Prince said they have the same basic goals for the district.

“By going together, you can bounce ideas off each other,” Setty said.

Setty said the district has faced difficult budget decisions in recent years, many of which had to be made. But he said after talking with some families in the district, there needs to be more communication between area voters and the school board.

“I just think right now there is a disconnect between the community and the school,” Setty said.

Prince said he believes the board can do a better job of informing residents what is happening within the district and added he’d like to find ways to get more students involved in extracurricular activities after school.

“Everything we do has to be geared toward having a better learning environment for the kids,” Prince said.

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