PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – When candidate qualifying ended last Friday, there were two names conspicuously missing from the Bay County school board races.
Incumbents Pamm Chapman and Brenda Ruthven declined to seek reelection.
Chapman served a four-year term, and Ruthven served a two-year term.
“I thought I would probably do eight years but at the end of four years I felt like I accomplished what I needed to accomplish,” Chapman said.
When she was elected to the school board in August 2018, Chapman could never have predicted what the last four years would bring.
Between Hurricane Michael, the COVID-19 pandemic, and controversial legislation, it was not your average term.
One of Chapman’s goals was to make sure the newly-renamed Oscar Patterson Academy was back up and running.
“I probably wouldn’t have gotten off the school board if I didn’t know that we were starting and opening Oscar Patterson again, and I know that it’s going to do great,” Chapman said.
She has also been pleased with the advances made in school safety and employee wages, which give her peace of mind in stepping down.
“I also have a lot of other personal commitments that I’ve kind of had to push to the side and it’s okay and my family and friends have been very supportive over the last four years but I just felt like it was time personally to do other things,” Chapman said.
Chapman said over the course of her four years on the board, she saw an uptick in politicization at board meetings, which she said could make others wary of running.
“I think going forward if groups don’t understand to make themselves a little bit less ostentatious or out there, they are going to have a hard time finding people to run for these positions, or good people to run,” Chapman said.
Brenda Ruthven could not be reached for comment.
Two people have qualified to run for Ruthven’s District 2 seat. Frances Keys Gordon and Ann Leonard will face each other in the August 23rd primary.
Only one person qualified to run for Chapman’s District 3 seat. Christopher Moore was the sole qualifier, so he wins.
No one challenged District 5 board member Steve Moss, who wins another term automatically.