Hamilton County High School
Snow Hill Elementary
Wallace A. Smith Elementary
Wolftever Creek Elementary
Candidates vying for the District 9 seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education will face off during a debate at Ooltewah High School Monday, May 14.
The debate pits incumbent Steve Highlander against hopeful D'Andre Anderson.
Highlander, who has held the seat since 2014, currently serves as chairman of the board and is running for a second term. Anderson, who has served as a student representative on the school board, is transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.
The event is being co-hosted by Chattanooga 2.0 and UnifiEd to give residents an idea of each contender's stance on key issues well in advance of the Aug. 2 election, said Natalie Cook, UnifiEd interim executive director.
Candidates will face questions posed by a moderator and have opportunities for rebuttal. Attendees will also have a chance to ask candidates questions directly.
"In order to build the 'smartest community in the South,' our community must have transparent forums for engaging with candidates," Chattanooga 2.0 Executive Director Jared Bigham said in a news release. "We hope attendees will come prepared with questions that reflect their top priorities for shaping the future of education in Hamilton County."
To help residents prepare, the Times Free Press asked both candidates the same two questions: "What experience/qualifications make you the best candidate?" and "What do you feel is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it?" Each had 150 words or less with which to answer.
» Check back next week for profiles on candidates running for District 5 and 8 seats.
Occupation: Religious affairs specialist with the Tennessee National Guard; shift leader at local restaurant chain
"I am young and I know exactly what is needed in the schools at this very moment. I served as student representative on the board last year, and I used my voice to represent all the students in Hamilton County. It is time for something different on the board, and I feel I can bring that difference.
"I feel the most important issue in my district would be the disconnect we have between students, teachers and parents when it comes to the Board of Education. I plan to incorporate a more effective advisory council for students, teachers and parents."
Occupation: 45-year teacher; 21-year bi-vocational minister
"For the past two years, I have served as board chair. My family moved to the district in 1930, and I have taught at Ooltewah, Central and Birchwood schools. Most of my life has been in District 9 and I still live in the district. While on the board, I have tried to be in each of the 11 schools twice a month. I have attended and offered community forums as well as many parent and student advisory meetings to gain insight. I take a random poll of at least 100 people from throughout the district to learn people's thoughts on major decisions.
"The most urgent issue is school safety. We have purchased better recognition and door locking systems. I have met with Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond three times and attended the Tennessee School Safety Forum in Nashville."