WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Nine candidates are vying for three open seats on the New Hanover County School Board. Among them is an incumbent running in a different party this time around.
Elizabeth Redenbaugh and Emma Saunders say they are ready to get to work for New Hanover County Schools.
Redenbaugh is the lone incumbent among the Democrats, but she was elected as a Republican four years ago. Saunders has served her time in the classroom as an elementary school teacher and one-time assistant principal.
After the General Assembly cut school funding, both women agree the school district's budget will be a tough issue to tackle, especially trying to avoid job cuts.
“We're at that point now if we've got to make additional cuts, you're going to feel it in the classrooms so we are trying desperately to avoid that,” Redenbaugh said.
"We need to find a way to not have to lose employees because we need people for the children,” Saunders said.
This race is clearly different for Redenbaugh than it was in 2008. She explained what motivated her to switch parties.
"When I took the stand that I did for diversity and against racially segregating our schools, isolating them by socioeconomic status, I got a tremendous amount of resistance from New Hanover County Republicans,” Redenbaugh said.
Saunders says if elected, she will work to ensure students earn their high school diplomas.
"There is a basic foundation for that and that's to provide pre-k for all students because that has a proven track record,” Saunders said. “Those students who get pre-k services tend to graduate."
Redenbaugh says she will continue to focus on pushing for equality in education for students of all backgrounds
“In grades three through eight, African American students, have a proficiency rate of 44 percent, which is horrible,” Redenbaugh said. “It’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Both women say they have what it takes for the job.
Saunders said, "Knowledge is key and i do have a well-rounded base for participating on the board."
Redenbaugh said, "For the last four years, I've demonstrated that i serve every single student regardless of the background, regardless of their neighborhood, regardless of their socioeconomic status."
We made several calls, but were unable to get in touch with the two other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination: Karen Clay Beatty and Erica Fester.