Scott Patterson is wasting no time in announcing his candidacy for school board, even though he can't officially file to run for another four months.
Patterson hopes to capture one of the two open board seats in November. Incumbents Martha Kinard and Lewis Graham both said they will not seek another term. Graham has already endorsed Patterson. It will be the stay-at-home dad's first run at elected office.
"I've always been involved in my daughters' schools, Gold Hill Elementary [and] I worked on the Keep Our Schools Strong campaign," Patterson said, referring to the committee that helped convince voters to pass a record $95.9 million bond to pay for new schools and facilities.
"I want to take it to the next level and now is the time to do it," he said.
Over the past few years since his oldest daughter started school, Patterson, a Fort Mill native, has been a classroom volunteer and a member of the PTA besides helping with the most recent school bond campaign. His younger daughter will begin kindergarten at Gold Hill Elementary this fall.
"I'm not going to make any promises; The thing I bring to the table is passion," he said. "I want to the look after the students and the teachers, and you have to keep the taxpayers in mind, too."
Last year, he went to Columbia to lobby against Act 388, which replaced residential property tax with a state sales tax increase to generate revenue for school districts. That effort was unsuccessful, but Patterson is eager to continue to work with other elected officials on local councils and in the legislature.
"They know our concerns," he said. "We just have to keep ourselves in their ear so they don't forget us."
Despite the strong show of support for the recent bond package - both questions on the ballot passed by wide margins - Patterson said he often hears township residents say the only way to stop growth is to stop building more schools.
"We have to continue to stay ahead of the game," he said. "Stopping building schools won't stop the growth, it will just put us behind."