Wayne County Board of Education

Wayne County Board of Education members Len Henderson and Jennifer Strickland question Ven Faulk during the board’s Thursday meeting called to interview candidates for the at-large seat on the board. Strickland nominated Faulk, who was elected by a 4-2 vote. Henderson and Pat Burden voted no.

Ven Faulk, president of Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home, was appointed Thursday night by the Wayne County Board of Education to the at-large seat on the board to complete the unexpired term of Raymond Smith.

The seat was vacated last month by Smith, who was elected District 21 representative in the North Carolina House.

Faulk, of Dudley, was one of nine candidates the school board interviewed Thursday.

The candidates included Goldsboro residents Chretien Dumond, Robert Freeman, Anthony Goodson Jr., Larry Johnson, Brandi Matthews, Phyllis Merritt-James and Averil Williams.

The candidates came in one at a time to face the board and answer 


 11 questions on issues ranging from redistricting, facilities and other needs.

Faulk was the next-to-last candidate and was followed by Phyllis Merritt-James. All of the candidates left the meeting before board discussion and vote.

Board attorney Richard Schwartz called Faulk to inform him of his appointment.

As soon as the interviews were completed, board member Jennifer Strickland made the motion to nominate Faulk. It was seconded by Joe Democko.

But before a vote could be taken, board member Rick Pridgen asked if there could be time for board members to review their notes.

After an approximately three-minute break, board members commented on who their top choices were.

Strickland remade her motion, seconded again by Democko. It was approved by a 4-2 vote with Strickland, Democko, Chris West and Pridgen voting yes.

Len Henderson and Pat Burden voted no.

Since it was a 4-2 vote, there were no more nominations.

In his opening remarks, Faulk said that his commitment and passion to serve on the board are evident because he was at the meeting instead of at school escorting his eighth-grade daughter at a school program.

“I am very thankful and humbled, honored and looking forward to serving the people of Wayne County,” Faulk said in a telephone interview. “I was very grateful for the phone call.”

Prior to the vote, Henderson said he hoped that any decision made would not be a political one.

 Faulk said he had no concerns that the vote was not unanimous.

“That will probably make me work even harder to prove to them that I was worthy of their vote,” he said.

Faulk said that his passion for education has driven him to seek a seat on the board.

“Like I said, if we have high-quality students, that’s going to make Wayne County a high-quality county,” Faulk said. “It is going to make our businesses better. It’s that circle of life I told them about tonight — we have to make great students so that we can have great business people that will support this county and make it a better place to live.”

 Faulk has had four previous unsuccessful bids for a school board seat. In 2008, he ran for the at-large seat, losing to Eddie Radford.

Two years later, he submitted his name for consideration for the District 2 seat to complete the term vacated by Shirley Sims. The Wayne County Commission then had the authority to name a replacement, choosing Len Henderson.

In 2012, Faulk campaigned for the District 2 seat, losing to Dwight Cannon. He ran again in 2016, for the at-large seat, losing the bid to Smith.