Kathy Lennon beats Jonathan Welch for Hamilton County's District 2 school board seat

Kathy Lennon
Kathy Lennon

District 2

130 of 130 precincts reportingKathy Lennon - 1,791Jonathan Welch (I) - 1,693(I) - incumbent; all vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission; some vote totals include write-in votes

photo Staff photo by Angela Foster / Jonathan Welch listens during a meeting of the Hamilton County Board of Education

Hamilton County general and Tennessee primary election stories

Kathy Lennon will replace Jonathan Welch on the Hamilton County Board of Education, receiving 1,791 votes to 1,693 for Welch in District 2.

Lennon, 60, is a former educator at parochial schools and director of special projects and development at Chattanooga WorkSpace.

"I'm very excited about working with the new school board members," Lennon said. "I am excited and I think there are a lot of good things for us to accomplish."

She said she couldn't have more respect for Welch, adding, "We really conducted ourselves well and had a great race together."

District 2 encompasses Signal Mountain, Red Bank and much of the Stuart Heights community.

Welch, 38, lost by fewer than 100 votes, and congratulated Lennon on her victory Thursday night.

"I've enjoyed my four years on the board," he said. "And I trust great things are ahead for Hamilton County Schools."

This year, 3,497 ballots were cast in the District 2 race, far fewer than the 5,844 ballots cast when Welch was elected in 2012.

He served as chairman this year, leading the board through seven tumultuous months, and was the only board member to publicly apologize for how the rape of a Ooltewah High School freshman in December was handled.

Throughout her campaign, Lennon said it was a time for a shake-up in the school system's leadership. She advocated for more art in schools and improved early childhood education. She said the school system has failed to have a strategic vision and that public schools are not keeping pace with the growth taking place in Chattanooga.

Looking ahead, Lennon said Thursday night that she hopes the school system can be more transparent and work more with the community.

"Keeping students first, that's got to be our priority," she said.

Email Kendi Rainwater at krainwater@timesfreepress.com and Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com.

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