Edward Fennell, who worked for 38 years as a reporter at the Post and Courier before retiring in 2012, has announced that he will run for a West Ashley seat on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees this November.
Fennell previously applied for a seat vacated by John Barter in December 2013, but in a crowded field of 12 applicants, Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Tripp Wiley III to fill the seat through November 2014. This time he's running against Eric L. Mack to fill the West Ashley seat of current school board member Elizabeth Moffly, who will not be seeking re-election. Reached last week, Fennell said he had not yet filed his paperwork with the State Ethics Commission but that he had obtained the 500 signatures necessary to run as a petition candidate.
Fennell says one of the issues he's interested in addressing is literacy. "I want to get more volunteers involved. It takes an army of volunteers coming to schools to help kids with homework or read to the little ones," Fennell says.
He also spoke up at a recent school board meeting about a possible extension of a 1-percent sales tax. The school board ultimately voted to add a new building for Lincoln High School to the list of potential sales-tax-funded projects, at a cost of $25 to $35 million, a decision Fennell says he disagrees with.
"I really am concerned about the school board budget," Fennell says. "They're talking about $35 million for a school that right now, they have 127 high school students in that area? And I understand the youth population in that area is dwindling ... It's just not an efficient way to spend tax dollars."
During his career at the Post and Courier, Fennell occasionally covered school board meetings, although most of his time was spent on the police beat, with some stints as a city government reporter.
"I covered City of Charleston government, North Charleston, Sullivan's Island, every government out there at one time or the other. I covered Hollywood when they had fistfights at council meetings," Fennell says. "I think in my 38 years, having covered every beat, I've seen the good and the bad in everybody, and I have an idea what people want."