The Horry County Board of Education plans to interview three candidates for the District 3 seat that became vacant when Ray Winters died in August.
Ann MacDonald, Mike Ryhal and Ray Winters' widow, Tracy Winters, will compete for the open seat.
District 3 includes parts of Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach. Ray Winters had held the seat since 2014.
On Nov. 1, a special meeting will take place to interview applicants for the vacancy, after which the board will convene in executive session to discuss the interviews and narrow down their candidates.
The board will vote on the appointment in open session.
The person chosen by the board to fill the seat will hold the post for the rest of the unexpired term, which runs through next year. The deadline to fill the seat is Nov. 14.
Ann MacDonald grew up in Tabor City, North Carolina, and has resided in Horry County since 2018. She is employed as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and her husband is in the military, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to her application.
She has four children in Horry County Schools and said in her application that she has a vested interest in being a part of the board as a parent.
“I also understand the uniqueness of Horry County Schools in the diversity of the communities it is called to serve,” MacDonald said in her application. “It is my desire to serve Horry County Schools as it continues its trajectory of growth and commitment to the education of its children and to the success of its employees.”
In her experience thus far with HCS, she thinks it is vitally important to keep the dialogue open between parents and the schools to achieve a greater impact on the success of the children.
She credits support from her neighbors, friends and her ties to the military community for her desire to be involved, and she said in her application that it has been a challenge to find a "sweet spot" in South Carolina civilian life.
“It is my desire now to give back to Horry County Schools in the capacity of school board member,” MacDonald said.
A former state representative and owner of Rotelli’s restaurant in Conway, Mike Ryhal also hopes to be able to represent District 3 on the board.
Ryhal said in his application that his daughters attended Horry County Schools for a nine-year period and during that time he was active in supporting them and their teachers by volunteering and attending events.
“As a parent I appreciate the education my three daughters received while attending Horry County Schools. As a legislator I was able to see the challenges our state faces in their efforts to support local educators,” Ryhal wrote.
Ryhal said he previously worked with late former board chairman Joe Defeo to communicate local concerns to lawmakers in Columbia, and also supported Ray Winters’ effort to become a school board member.
“I believe one of the most important foundations of a strong community is a good education system,” Ryhal said in his application. “With the growth we’re seeing throughout the county, our schools will continue to be challenged in all aspects.”
Ryhal also worked as a legislative liaison for Coastal Carolina University after leaving the legislature, which he said helped him continue to support education locally as well as work on the history of the Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax and its funding impact on the county.
Tracy Winters hopes to be able to continue her late husband’s work in District 3.
“I want to be a voice for District 3 as well as all of the Horry County students, teachers, and administration,” she said in her application.
Winters’ daughter also attended Horry County Schools.
Tracy Winters said she previously served on the School Improvement Council at Ocean Bay Elementary and was an active member of the PTO at the school. Most recently, she was a supporter of the booster club at Carolina Forest High School.
She has continued to sponsor the “Student of the Month” program led by her husband’s law office.
Tracy Winters said she stays involved in the community by also packing goody bags for area hospice patients and families, as well as hospice agency nurses and staff members.
“I feel it is important to serve the community because you are helping to improve it and making it a better place for everyone to live,” Tracy Winters said in her application.
The new District 3 representative will take the oath of office on Nov. 8.
If the person selected by the board runs for the seat in the next election cycle and wins, that individual would then serve through 2026.
Ray Winters was the second board member to die from COVID-19 complications this year, following vice chairman John Poston, who died Jan. 30.