Sharpe, a two-term member of the board, was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. His departure from the local GOP leaves just one Republican, first term member Sandra Bowen, on the Lee County Board of Education.
Another Republican school board member, Wendy Carlyle, stepped down in May (subscription required) to take a position in the schools’ central office. The board has not yet filled her vacancy.
Sharpe is only the latest Republican to switch parties locally. School board members Mark Akinosho and Tamara Brogan, both elected as Republicans, switched to the Democratic Party in 2013 (subscription required). Board chairman Dr. Lynn Smith, a former Republican who spent several years as a political independent, became a Democrat in April.
In fact, only five Republicans hold public office in Lee County – Bowen, Sheriff Tracy Carter, Sanford City Councilman Charles Taylor, and Lee County Commissioners Kirk Smith and Dr. Andre Knecht.
The thinning of the local GOP herd might be explained, at least in part, by the now-infamous partisan elections bill (subscription required) which former state representative and friend of the Rant Mike Stone sprung on the Lee County Board of Education and the Sanford City Council in 2013.
Other contributing factors – and this is no more than irresponsibly wild speculation on the Rant’s part – might include offensive comments about Latinos, tragedy-exploiting attack mailers (subscription required) and conveniently-shifting positions on the issue of coal ash. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯