If Ed Higgins wins a seventh term on New Hanover County’s Board of Education, he will have served nearly three decades. Bruce Shell, also an incumbent, is seeking his second term. In a Republican primary field of seven candidates, both men are competing for one of the four open seats.
Ed Higgins says he’s proud of the new gyms at Laney and Hoggard High Schools – which resulted in more space at Laney. He’s pleased with the hiring of Tim Markley as Schools Superintendent, and he’s proud of being what he calls an advocate for growth over the last 24 years for the public school system. He will also always be an advocate for neighborhood schools.
"Now, I have long – long – probably 15, 16 years – have said it will be impossible to have diversity in our public schools until the city and the county do something about housing patterns. Until we have diversity in the housing patterns, we’re not going to have diversity in our schools because the population of New Hanover County will not tolerate, I don’t think, putting their children on buses as they used to do back in the ‘80s to send them somewheres to create some kind of social experiment."
Bruce Shell says he’s accomplished part of the agenda he set for his first term -- which is largely related to the opening of a career and technical high school. He’s worked well with the newer board members, Lisa Estep and David Wortman, and he concedes there is something of a power struggle between the old and new guard. But being in the voting minority is not what frustrates him.
"It’s because you’re not discussing things that you could be discussing… I don’t mind losing in a vote. I don’t see it as win-lose. I see it as -- let’s discuss it. You’ve got four board members who’ve been there a long, long time and have a lot of experience. If we had discussions, I believe we could learn from them. And I think they could learn from the folks with lesser longevity, with high energy and passion for trying to improve things."
Shell has a focus for his next term:
With county and state government, students, employees, parents, and the business community, Shell says there's a great deal to be accomplished through relationships. And while the former New Hanover County Manager and Finance Director doesn't take direct credit for securing increased funding for pre-K, he says it was the subject of conversations he had with county commissioners.
Early voting starts April 19th.
To listen to extended interviews, see below: