Dems vying for schools chief job to debate Tuesday

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The four Democratic candidates vying for the state superintendent will debate Tuesday at the International Longshoremen's Association Hall in downtown Charleston.

The debate is the only public forum between Montrio Belton, Shelia Gallagher, Jerry Govan and Tom Thompson before the June 10 primary.

"It is critical that South Carolina elects a state superintendent who is committed to strengthening, not weakening, public education," said Melissa Watson, the state Democratic Party's second vice chair.

Watson is also SCDP education caucus chair.

Belton graduated from Winthrop University with a bachelor's and master's degree in education and has a doctorate in education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Belton has nearly two decades of experience as a teacher, and as a school administrator in Darlington, SC and at the state department of education.


Gallagher also has Winthrop University bachelor's and master's degrees in education, in addition to education master's degrees from the University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina. Gallagher retired in 2010 as Florence County school teacher and ran unsuccessfully for the SC House of Representatives that year.


Govan holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in education from South Carolina State University. Govan presently serves as Orangeburg County School Attendance Supervisor and is owner of The Govan Insurance Agency. Since 1993, Govan has served in the South Carolina House of Representatives.


Thompson received his bachelor's and master's degrees and doctorate in education from the University of Illinois. He was a public school teacher and administrator in Wisconsin and South Carolina. Thompson was a state education department administrator, and associate professor at the University of South Carolina. Currently he is dean of graduate studies at SC State University.