Incumbent Rhonda Thurman wins District 1 Hamilton County school board race

Rhonda Thurman receives a hug from her mother, Thelma Potter inside Wimpie's Restaurant in Soddy-Daisy after defeating Dr. Patti Skates in the District 1 school board race.

District 1

130 of 130 precincts reporting Rhonda Thurman (I) - 2,111 Patti Skates - 1,336 Jason Moses - 276 (I) - incumbent; all vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission; some vote totals include write-in votes

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Rhonda Thurman will spend another four years representing District 1 on the Hamilton County school board, taking 2,111 of the votes cast.

"I'm just glad it's over, and it looks like the people of District 1 didn't want a change like my competitors thought they did," Thurman said Thursday night.

District 1 is the most rural school district in Hamilton County, encompassing the Soddy-Daisy and Sale Creek areas, and contains eight schools after Falling Water Elementary closed this year.

Thurman, 59, has worked as a hairdresser for nearly 40 years, and during the 12 years she's served on the school board she's earned a no-nonsense reputation for speaking her mind and questioning every expenditure brought before the board.

In the 2012 election, Thurman faced one challenger and received 3,994 votes - 74.36 percent of the votes cast.

Patti Skates, 62, a longtime educator and current vice mayor of Soddy-Daisy, left the race Thursday with 1,336 votes. She campaigned on the need for a change in leadership and touted herself as someone who would work toward solutions and not just complain about problems.

"We should have had more turnout than what we had, but I do hope that she [Thurman] has seen some of the things that the people of District 1 want," Skates said.

"I wish her well and I'm just sorry that it turned out the way it did, but I can live with that," Skates said.

Jason Moses, 38, a Chattanooga firefighter and PTA vice president at the now-closed Falling Water Elementary School, collected 276 votes.

"Rhonda is big-time in Soddy-Daisy," Moses said. "She smoked us."

Moses said he targeted people ages 20 to 40, but when it came down to it, he said, "my people didn't come out."

Looking ahead, Thurman said it's going to be a long process finding a new superintendent to lead the district, but she is ready to interview and select a search firm and get started.

Email Kendi Rainwater at and Emmett Gienapp at

photo Rhonda Thurman receives a hug from her longtime friend Punk Heard, left, inside Wimpie's Restaurant in Soddy-Daisy after defeating Dr. Patti Skates in the District 1 school board race. Pam Smith, back center claps as Jeremiah Johnson is all smiles.