Erica Cokley’s 2020 election victory that sent her to the Charleston County School Board was a surprise to her from the get-go, she said. She hadn’t expected to get many votes, but she went for it because she said something different needed to be done on the board. 

“It’s completely new territory, so it’s been a learning process and still is,” Cokley said. “Learning what to say, what not to say, when to say it and who to say it to — it’s definitely opened my eyes to a lot of new things. The biggest thing would be the power of voice. People think our votes don’t matter, but the power of voice, it really matters, especially when you think locally.” 

And capping off her first year on the board with a Best Of award is just the icing on the cake.

“I am completely honored, overwhelmingly honored,” she said. “That’s all I can really say because going in, it was just a lot of questions — my qualifications, my reasons, my platform — so after all I am just overwhelmingly thankful.” 

She said she hopes her experience and her recent win will encourage other parents to run for school board positions, something she believes is important. “There aren’t a lot of people who have children who actually run for school board positions,” she said. Whether it be timing, the meetings, other responsibilities or whatever road block keeps parents away, she hopes she can encourage them that it’s worth it.