When Aiken County Board of Education member Ray Fleming announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in November, something unexpected happened: No candidates in North Augusta District 5 emerged to fill the vacancy.


Businessman Jeremy Mace has stepped up. Late last week, he announced he will seek the School Board seat in the November general election as a formal write-in candidate.


“I had been to some of the (School) Board meetings and got to see how knowledgeable Ray is,” Mace said. “I would really have some big shoes to fill.”


The filing period for School Board candidates ended July 15. Again, no one brought in a mandated petition, which needed only 50 signatures within the boundaries of that district.


That means no candidates actually will appear on the ballot. However, eligible voters in that district can fill in a name, as long as that person lives in the district, as well.


Mace started out in the graphic design field, and now, he and Turner Simpkins co-own NewFire Media – a digital advertising agency. Mace and his wife, Kimberly, have two children – Raegan, 13, and Noah, 10.


Fleming was elected to the School Board in 2006. When he ran again in 2010, “I helped him with social media and got a chance to talk with him,” Mace said. “We developed a good friendship.”


The School Board meetings he attended earlier this year included discussions about the local option sales tax proposal. He’s excited about and supports the initiative, which could provide new revenue for facility construction. That would include an accelerated process, in part completely rebuilding North Augusta High School in 10 years.


Mace recognizes the complexity of the School District budget and other education issues. The work of the School Board seems like a daunting challenge, and he has done extensive research to learn more about that process, said Mace.


“I see this as a really good opportunity to serve,” Mace said. “I’m not doing this because of any political ambitions. As a business leader in the community, I’d like to be a part of those making decisions on the School Board.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter.