Joe Wingate bumps Donna Horn from District 7 school board seat

Joe Wingate
Joe Wingate

District 7

130 of 130 precincts reporting Joe Wingate - 2,489 Donna Horn (I) - 1,166 (I) - incumbent; all vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission; some vote totals include write-in votes

photo Joe Wingate
photo Donna Horn

Joe Wingate clinched the nomination for District 7 Thursday night, ousting Donna Horn from her seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education.

A total of 3,655 votes were cast in the race, with Wingate drawing 2,489 votes.

Wingate attributed his win to weeks of hard work and said, "We tried to knock on as many doors as we could and call as many folks as we could."

Horn said she was disappointed by the voter turnout.

"This is not a victory for District 7," she said. "For all of the 'concern' about the school system, the turnout was more than pathetic."

Wingate, 43, a health and physical education professor and coach at Chattanooga State Community College, said he decided to run because he felt a burden for the schools in the district, saying he has watched their gradual decline since he was enrolled in them. Professionally, he has a long background in education, having been a teacher at both East Hamilton and Ooltewah high schools.

He has said his priorities would include fixing the public's image of the school board as a fractured, inefficient body, and examining the system's $417 million budget in order to better direct spending without asking for more funding through a tax increase.

"The message has resonated with folks," Wingate said. "It's good to see that people are concerned and aware of what's going on."

Horn, 65, a former elementary classroom teacher, said she ran for re-election because she felt things were in limbo and she wanted to finish what she had started on the board. She said there are serious problems faced by the school system, but she chose to run again because she is no quitter and she has faith in the board's ability to find solutions.

During her campaign, Horn said one of the most difficult decisions facing the school board this year would be the selection of a new superintendent. She said the process likely would take many months to find the right person, adding that whoever is selected should be a strong manager and advocate for teachers.

She also said good communication skills were mandatory because she was frustrated by how the previous superintendent, Rick Smith, kept board members in the dark.

District 7, which holds the fewest schools in the system, encompasses East Brainerd and parts of Ooltewah and Apison.

Email Kendi Rainwater at and Emmett Gienapp at

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