Walker comes forward

Published 12:30 am Saturday, January 28, 2012

A second candidate has come forward in Beaufort County’s school-board District 7.

Carolyn Walker on Friday announced her intention to run in the district, which takes in the River Road and Washington Park precincts plus part of Washington’s Ward 1.

Walker is a novice candidate and a former parent-teacher association president.

She and her husband, Randy Walker, co-own G.W. Walker & Sons, a home-improvement business based in downtown Washington.

Randy Walker records the Beaufort County Board of Education and board of commissioners meetings for broadcast on local cable-access TV.

The couple have two grown children, both of whom are teachers.

“I always thought that one day I would (run), but I never wanted to do anything like that as long as my kids were still in school because meetings and the learning curve that’s involved takes so much time,” Carolyn Walker said.

Walker’s announcement came one day behind incumbent school-board member Robert Belcher’s confirmation that he would not run again.

Belcher will be an eight-year veteran of District 7 when his term expires this year.

Also on Thursday, Belcher’s former opponent, Bill Sprenkle, announced he would run for the District 7 seat. Sprenkle tried to unseat Belcher roughly four years ago.

Walker said she doesn’t know Sprenkle, but does know Belcher, who was principal of Washington’s John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School when her children attended that school.

“I wouldn’t have run against Robert,” she said, adding his decision to step down triggered her run.

“I felt like this is the time,” she said.

Asked what she would change if elected to the board, Walker said she wants to continue the work in progress.

“I think being able to be a little more of an advocate for teachers is a little different,” she said.

The board has been doing a better job of communicating with the public about the reasons behind its actions, she said, “but we can always do better.”

Like Sprenkle, Walker lives off River Road.

In an interview on Thursday, Sprenkle, a retired accountant, emphasized his concern for dollars and cents.

“Being on the accounting side of the house, I hate to use the word impose, but I want to push fiscal discipline,” he commented. “I’ll pay attention to the finance situation and see if we can make it a little smoother between the school board and the commissioners.”

Sprenkle said he’d like to encourage parental involvement in the education process and zero in on dropout prevention.

“I’d like to be a positive influence on the educational system,” he said.

It was unknown Friday whether any other candidates might come forward in District 7.

The filing period for North Carolina offices runs Feb. 13 through Feb. 29.

School-board slots are nonpartisan and won’t be on the ballot for the May primary election. These races will be decided in November.