Lee County Board of Education member Christine Hilliard has changed her party registration and will run for re-election in 2022 as a Democrat, according to a post on her campaign Facebook page.
Hilliard wrote that her “relationship with the local (Republican) party is untenable.”
“The county Republican party has given me little to no support over the last few years,” she wrote. “Even on election night in 2018 after it was announced that I had won, the chairperson said to my face that he had never considered me a viable candidate and gave me no chance to win.”
She went on to say that she felt the local GOP had pressured her to “be in alignment with the local party’s stance, devoid of any type of independent thought” and that she “will not be treated as some sort of puppet.” Read the entire statement below:
The move changes the board’s partisan makeup from a 4-3 Republican advantage to a 4-3 Democratic advantage. Republican Sandra Bowen remains chair, while Hilliard remains vice chair.
The Lee County Democratic Party welcomed Hilliard to the party in a written statement, which noted the party’s position that school board elections in Lee County should be nonpartisan.
“We have witnessed Christine Hilliard run an honest and sincere campaign and vote consistently in the best interest of the students, staff, and faculty of Lee County Schools, regardless of politics. The Lee County Democratic Party believes education is key to a better job, more freedom, and more opportunities. We always believed when it comes to educating our children that we are all in this together. We never believed the Board of Education should be partisan,” said Democratic Party Chair Vonda Reives. “The Lee County Democratic party looks forward to working with and supporting Christine Hilliard with our shared vision of making sure that every child is given an opportunity to succeed. We welcome her to the party.”
Hilliard is one of many current or former elected officials in Lee County who have left the local GOP over the last several years. Others include school board member Lynn Smith, former Lee County Commissioner Larry “Doc” Oldham, current Lee County Commissioner and former school board member Cameron Sharpe, and former Lee County Commissioner Kevin Dodson. The local GOP also censured one of its own members in 2019, former school board member Stephen Coble, after he voted with Democrats on a school architectural contract.