Knox County Republican Party Chairman Daniel Herrera has signed a permissive notice to have Republican primaries for Knox County School Board races. I have read and heard that some people think we’ve never had partisan races for School Board. Well that is wrong.
Before the TN State House and TN State Senate passed the 1992 Education Improvement Act, there were partisan School Board Elections and partisan School Superintendent elections.
The 1992 sweeping education reform stated that the Superintendent would be appointed by the School Board and School Board elections would be non partisan.
When Chairman Herrera came under criticism earlier this year for his quote, “this isn’t your grandfathers party” is a coincidence of such in that now the party is reverting to a process of our grandfathers (I will include myself in that generation) way.
Knox County Democrat Party Chairman Matt Shears is taking a bit of a different approach. His quote to me about what the Democrats will do, “We plan to make a collective decision as a party not a unilateral decision from the Chair. The KCDP Board will be having discussions with our elected officials, current & former school board members, and potential candidates to decide the best path forward.”
Shears went on to talk about the legislatures permissive legislation allowing partisan school board elections, “This haphazard bill has already created confusion and disruption in the whole process. Making school board races partisan does nothing to increase teacher pay, improve learning outcomes, or solve any real problems facing our public education system. It is just another ploy from the Republican Party’s militant cultural war electoral strategy.”
Current Fourth District Knox County School Board Member Virginia Babb had announced she would run for re-election in 2022 as an Independent. However, last week Compass announced that she has decided NOT to seek re-election due to the partisan election process.
I contacted Babb and she confirmed the report and told me she isn’t an R or a D and she had been advised it would be futile to run as an Independent. I told her, will that is unfortunate, because I guess I am the only dumba$$ that believed she could have won as an independent. I haven’t always agreed with Babb and I know she hasn’t and may not be a fan of mine. However, I respect what I have seen in her process and her decisions even when I disagreed with them. We’ve always been civil to one another, ain’t that what we are suppose to do?
Now, I was elected to the Fifth District Knox County School Board position in 2000 and lost re-election in 2004 under the non partisan election for School Board. I can argue both sides of the issue.
One other note of interest, in Tennessee only Knox County has a non partisan primary election for School Board and a run off election for any two candidates that do not get 50% plus one vote in the non partisan primary.
This happened after a 1998 crowded 5 person seventh district non partisan school board election. In that race Diane Dozier was elected with less than 50% of the vote. Knox County Commission then asked the legislature for permissive legislation that allowed Knox County to have primary non partisan school board elections. The legislature did that and County Commission then approved and acted to create it, it has been in place ever since.