Forsyth County Republicans acted quickly on Monday to pick Susan Miller as the party’s replacement in District 2 for the late Stan Elrod, with just eight days to go until the general election on Nov. 8.
Elrod died unexpectedly on Oct. 25, after early voting had already begun. His name still will be on the ballot, but any votes cast for him will instead go to Miller.
Miller, 68, is a former teacher, instructional facilitator and reading specialist in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
Miller was selected during a meeting of the GOP’s executive committee Monday night at the Agape Faith Church in Clemmons. The executive committee includes the party’s precinct leaders, the chairs of party committees, party leaders and holders of elective office who are members of the GOP.
Miller was the only candidate whose name was put into nomination and she was the party’s unanimous choice, elected by acclamation.
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That was a surprise to Ken Raymond, who chairs the county party and who had heard from other people who considered making a run.
The party had 10 candidates to pick from back during the May 17 primary, which whittled the field to a final four, including Elrod. So there were plenty of potential candidates to consider, Raymond said.
“I was expecting two or three rounds of voting tonight, and that is what I was prepared for,” Raymond said. “We had a number of candidates who expressed an interest, but tonight only one of them showed up.”
During the May 17 primary, Miller finished in sixth place, with 6,254 votes, in the race for four Republican nominations to the school board. That was 545 votes behind incumbent Lida Calvert Hayes, who finished in fifth, and 1,229 votes behind Steve Wood, the lowest vote-getter among the four to secure nomination.
Miller has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from East Tennessee State University and a master’s of education degree in K-12 reading from UNC Greensboro. She attended a leadership academy at UNC Greensboro and obtained her principal’s licensure.
“My big platform is literacy,” Miller said Monday night after her selection. “And right now, our district reading proficiency rate for third grade is at 39% — which is about one out of three. I really want to work on improving that. All of my background was in literacy. I was a classroom teacher, a curriculum coordinator. My most recent role was at the Career Center where I worked with ... students on vocabulary, study skills and things they need to use when they are out on their jobs.”
Miller said she told GOP executive committee that, “We need to be vigilant about no Critical Race Theory in the classroom.”
She said she defines that as teaching that defines minority groups as victims and whites as oppressors, and thinks it is unhealthy for both.
The school district has said on multiple occasions that it does not teach Critical Race Theory.
“The other thing that was discussed was that the culture and climate of our schools needs to be healthy for our students,” Miller said, noting the problem of violence in schools. “(Students) need to feel physically and psychologically safe.”
Miller said the schools need to be careful with spending taxpayers’ dollars as well. She said she is a native of Roanoke, Va., who has lived here 46 years, and that she’s a member of Mount Tabor United Methodist Church.
Elrod’s unexpected death shocked many in the community, who remembered him as principal at Reynolds High School from 1991 to 2005. He began at Reynolds as a social studies teacher and basketball coach and in time became the school’s athletics director and assistant principal before taking the top job.
Elrod left Reynolds to open the new Reagan High School, and retired from Reagan in 2010 when he was 58 years old. But he didn’t stay away from the school district long. Elrod soon became the athletics director for the school district.