Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Elections: What the school board results indicate for the future

First, congratulations to all the winners from last night’s elections. To all those who lost, well, thanks for running. It takes guts (and a little ego) to take the public abuse. Personally, I hope to see some of you in another campaign soon. There were a number of folks who didn’t win last night who were certainly qualified to run the office that they sought.

OK, that said, I’ll probably be looking at some of the races (off and on) during the next few days. This post focuses on the school board seats and what role the current board and administration played in the outcome.

I heard last night from one of the local political so-called prognosticating experts (heh) that the results from the BOE elections didn’t necessarily reflect outrage with the direction the school system is moving. (Actually, a number of folks said that.)

I don’t buy it. In fact, after August the board’s makeup and philosophy could get a major overhaul.
There were five races last night, although opposition against Patti Lou Bounds dropped out before one contest began, so she’s automatically in.

So, let’s get to the contested ones.

District 4: Incumbent Lynne Fugate won easily. I’m not surprised. Sally Absher campaigned hard, but her ties to the tea party concerned some folks. And no one knew who the other candidate, Jeffrey Scott Clark, was. Not sure why he even ran. That said, District 4 was always a safe haven for Fugate and the school system’s administration, particularly Superintendent Jim McIntyre. The district likes the direction they’re taking, and Sequoyah Hills, a strong voting bloc, has always supported them.

District 1: No way this should have been close. Gloria Deathridge should have walked away with 60 percent of the vote. Her opponents Marshall Walker, who will face her in the August general election, and Robert Boyd, were practically non-existent during the campaign. That said, combine Walker and Boyd’s numbers and they beat Deathridge roughly 53.5 to 46.5 No surprise here. Residents are upset with Deathridge, particularly her move several years ago to outsource custodian services. If Walker wises up and turns this into a real race in August, she could be toast. Still, even if he makes it close and she wins, it’s still reflects poorly on Deathridge. Incumbents should run away with the vote in a one-on-one contest.I expect many of Boyd's supporters to back Walker.

District 6: Pretty much everyone knew this was going into August with Terry Hill taking on someone. We now know it’s going to be Sandra Rowcliffe – the so-called establishment’s choice. She had major support from big players, including the chamber and a former UT coach, as well as Superintendent McIntyre. There's no hiding it, she’s one of his – and the current board’s – biggest cheerleaders. That said, she got THUMPED. And no amount of "row, row, rowing the vote" will change that in August.

District 9: Amber Rountree over incumbent Pam Trainor. Enough said. This was the true litmus test, and it’s more representative of the overall community (despite the wise-a$$ remarks folks like to make about South Knoxville. Face it, you’re just jealous.).

Hill is the obvious favorite going into August and Walker has a good shot. If he wins that makes it 3-1 in the overhaul department (and 4-1 if you count the Bounds’ race).

Is that good? Bad? Who knows. But people are not content right now.

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