Except for one new face, the Hamilton County Board of Education will look much the same next year, as the two members of Rhonda Thurman’s team of candidates lost their bid to get the board “Back on Track.”
Ms. Thurman, 51, who ran unopposed for her District 1 seat, will continue to represent 10 schools in the north end of the county, but “Back on Track” teammates Gregg Juster and Joe Dumas lost to their incumbent opponents, District 4 representative Debra Matthews and District 2 member Chip Baker, respectively.
DISTRICT 1 (23 of 24 precincts reporting)
* Rhonda Thurman: 3,220 votes
* Write-in votes: 116 votes
DISTRICT 2 (26 of 27 precincts reporting)
* Chip Baker: 2,863 votes
* Joe Dumas: 2,316 votes
DISTRICT 4 (22 of 23 precincts reporting)
* Debra Matthews: 1,256 votes
* Gregg Juster: 918 votes
* Kenneth Simpson: 96 votes
DISTRICT 7 (18 of 19 precincts reporting)
* Linda Mosley: 2,060 votes
* Michael Dzik: 1,425 votes
* Kevin Burke: 148 votes
Source: Hamilton County Election Commission
Newcomer Linda Mosley will succeed retiring school board member Joe Conner as District 7 representative. Mr. Conner served on the board for 12 years.
Ms. Mosley’s victory makes her the fourth female representative on the board of nine.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by county or state officials.
Although disappointed she was the only member of her coalition elected, Ms. Thurman said she is honored her constituents gave her another four years in office.
Ms. Matthews, 58, who has served on the board for 10 years, will continue representing nine downtown schools in neighborhoods including Alton Park, Bushtown, Avondale and Clifton Hills. In her next term, she vowed to improve her communication with constituents, some of whom have complained she does not adequately listen to their concerns.
She also extended an invitation to Mr. Juster to work with her on improving District 4 schools.
“I’ll open the door if he’s willing and able to learn,” she said.
Mr. Juster, a longtime businessman who claims to hate politics, said he would not work with Ms. Matthews. The 57-year-old repeatedly accused Ms. Matthews of “dirty politics” during the campaign, saying she ultimately “stole the race.”
“She won the race because she scared the black community, making the claim that I was going to close Howard (School of Academics and Technology),” he said. “But this isn’t sour grapes.”
Mr. Baker, 50, an eight-year school board veteran, will again serve 10 schools in his district, which includes Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Red Bank, and parts of North Chattanooga and Hixson.
He is proud of Hamilton County, he said, and is excited to be a part of its continued growth.
“I’m so looking forward of being a part of taking the momentum we have right now to propel us as a community to the excellence we know we can become,” he said.
Dr. Dumas, 47, took nearly 45 percent of the votes in District 2. Despite losing, Dr. Dumas said he is proud of his campaign.
“We gave an incumbent the best run that anyone has in a while,” he said.
Ms. Mosley, 55, and Mr. Dzik, 36, who disagreed little during the campaign, agreed Thursday night that they would work together in District 7. There are five schools in the district, which includes East Brainerd and Tyner.
“I am ecstatic and excited, and I’m so thankful and grateful to all the people who helped me in my campaign,” she said. “Michael had a lot of good thoughts and good points. I think he would be a great ally to me on the school board.”
The newly elected and re-elected board members will be sworn into office sometime before their official start date on Sept. 1, and will serve a four year term. Along with a yearly salary of $10,372.70, each can receive up to $100 per month in mileage reimbursement at the federal rate of $58.50 per mile.
Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...