Strong primary finish bodes well for Tippett | The Johnstonian News
The Johnstonian News

Strong primary finish bodes well for Tippett

Posted on May 23, 2022

Updated on May 28, 2022

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The Selma Civic Center awaits voters on primary day in Johnston.

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The Selma Civic Center awaits voters on primary day in Johnston. | 919-424-1776



Two years ago, retired teacher Terry Tippett fell just short of winning a seat on the Johnston County Board of Education.

He might get there this year.

With 12,419 votes, Tippett finished first in last week’s school board primary in Johnston, earning a place on November’s general election ballot.

“This puts us halfway home in terms of serving the people of this county,” he said in an email late last week.

Tippett finished first in 22 of Johnston’s 38 precincts and second in seven.

“The support from throughout the county is especially important when the voter base is lower in your home area,” said Tippett, who lives in the Emit community. “We were able to perform well in most areas and be competitive in the larger population areas.”

“It is a humbling experience when voters select you as their choice,” he added.

Joining Tippett on the November ballot will be Kevin Donovan, who finished second in the primary with 11,215 votes; Michelle Antoine, 10,040; Rick Mercier, 6,737; Mark Lane, 6,309; and Melissa Bowers, 5,271. The top three in the general election will win seats on the board.

Like Tippett, Antoine ran two years ago but did not make it out of a crowded primary field. She has raised her profile since then, penning several opinion pieces highly critical of the current school board.

“Offering myself for public service comes from a deep desire to see all children served well by our community schools,” Antoine said in an email. “It makes me deeply grateful that the people of the county trust my experience and knowledge enough to vote for a new, brighter vision.”

Mercier, who finished fourth in the primary, also ran in 2020, but like Tippett, he came up short in that year’s general election. “I’m grateful for the support of citizens from across the county,” he said in an email. “I’m really proud of the broad coalition we’re building. I think that has been critical to our success so far. We will continue to build on that.”

Though turning their attention to November, the candidates said their focus was unchanged.

“I believe people are ready for change and a push toward excellence throughout the county,” Tippett said.

His agenda includes raising academic achievement, increasing trade and vocational opportunities, hiring and retaining quality staff, reviewing staffing in the school system’s central office, and ensuring student and staff safety.

“We must also begin the long-overdue process of meeting the facility requirements for our students,” Tippett said, noting Johnston’s population growth. “There must be a more in-depth working relationship with our county commissioners and House and Senate representatives. Together, we can make JCPS the best in our state.”

Antoine, too, said her agenda would be the same this fall as it was this spring. “I will continue to express my plans, which include bringing back accountability for tax dollars spent, restoring achievement of academic basics ... and respecting the authority of parents’ decisions for their children,” she said. “Our schools are facing monumental challenges, and I can provide a serious and reasoned voice for the taxpayers of the county.”

To Mercier, reading remains fundamental. “I want to focus on reading proficiency in the early grades,” he said. “Specifically, we have to make sure all of our students are grade-level reading proficient by the third grade. If students are proficient in reading by that time, they are set up for success for the rest of their academic journey.”

“I also want to support our educators and not scapegoat or undermine them,” Mercier said. “Finally, I want to make sure we separate TA and bus driver duties so that we can recruit and retain great TAs and so that we can keep them in the classroom during all of the hours of the school day.”

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