(Feb. 18. 2009)
YORK — Clover school board member Bob Magee can continue serving on the board after York County election officials ruled Wednesday that he lives within district boundaries.
"I'd say that there's a significant decision that was made on the issue," said Magee, a board member since 2002. "It's probably a good thing for all parties involved to know where we stand."
By a 6-1 vote, the Registration Board of the York County Board of Registration and Elections decided that Magee's primary residence is within school district boundaries, dismissing a claim to the contrary brought to the board by a resident.
Sherri Ciurlik, who made the challenge, contends that Magee's primary residence is in another part of the state and he violates "the intent of the law" requiring board members to live within the school district.
"I'm bringing this challenge not as a personal issue," said Ciurlik, who first confronted Magee on the issue last May. "Regardless of the intentions of the person, the intent of the law remains the same."
Magee's wife and youngest son live in the Clemson area, and his business also has a physical address there, Magee said. However, he told the board, Magee stayed in Clover after they moved because of his wife's job relocation. His primary residence on River Oaks Road, while different from the one where he first lived when elected, is within the district.
The River Oaks Road address, a family home since 1976, is listed in Magee's name. He and his brother live there, though Magee said he's spent only six days at that address so far this month. The absence is because of his sales job with Pinpoint Geotech, Magee said, adding he spent even less time at the Clemson-area address.
"That's a good question," Magee said when asked where he returns "home" from work. "I've got responsibilities in both places. I'll make no bones about it. I've got two yards to mow."
Board chairman Steve Rast, an accountant, focused on the joint tax filing status of Magee and his wife that uses her Clemson-area address in casting the lone dissenting vote.
"That is your tax home as far as the (Internal Revenue Service) is concerned," Rast said. "I'm inclined to take seriously the tax home."
Other board members, though, considered Magee's voter registration, car title, home ownership and other factors as proof enough that the River Oaks Road residence should be considered primary.
"By the law, it seems to me he's batting about .900," Sam White said.
The issue all board members agreed on, apart from the nature of Wednesday's hearing, is how complicated residency can be and the need for more specific requirements.
"It sounds like there's not an easy answer to it," said board member James Mabrey. "I don't know that there is."
If the board were to have determined Magee's primary residence was outside of the district, the issue would have gone before the school board. Instead, the hearing Wednesday meant the residency issue could no longer be pursued in court, Rast said. While Magee and Ciurlik shook hands after the meeting, the decision was not one Ciurlik anticipated.
"To me, it is not a voter registration issue, though I understand legally that is what it comes down to," she said.Magee, who plans to live in Clover beyond retirement but does not plan to seek re-election, believes the decision Wednesday night justified what he said all along.
"Clover is my home," Magee said. "That's where I live."