School board: Newcomers capture 2 of 5 seats

Tucker McClendon talks about why he is running for District 8 Hamilton County school board during a debate at East Ridge Elementary School Monday, May 8, 2018 in East Ridge, Tenn. McClendon grew up in the Hamilton County School System and hopes to improve what students gain from their experiences in public schools to better prepare them for the next stage of life.

The Hamilton County Board of Education will get two new members next month after a political newcomer claimed the only open seat up for election Thursday night and a two-term incumbent lost.

Jenny Hill beat opponent Michael Henry for the District 6 seat held by board member Joe Galloway, who decided not to seek reelection.

And with a margin of 132 votes, newcomer Tucker McClendon beat David Testerman for the District 8 seat.

School board members serve for four years.

District 3

In District 3, which includes the Hixson, Lakesite, Middle Valley and Big Ridge areas, incumbent Joe Smith, 64, defeated Miracle Hurley. Smith netted 4,351 votes to Hurley's 2,015.

Smith, founder of the YMCA's YCAP program, was appointed to the seat by the Hamilton County Commission after he lost a bid for a County Commission seat against Greg Martin in November 2016.

In the past two years, Smith voted in favor of hiring Bryan Johnson to replace interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly and has advocated for balanced budgets, getting rid of school fees and improving capital maintenance projects.

He thanked the voters of District 3 and his family for their support.

"Thanks to my families and my friends, and the confidence that District 3 folks have put in me," Smith said. "I will continue to fight not just for District 3, but for all kids in Hamilton County, so we can make our school system the very best in the state."

photo Board member Steve Highlander, left, listens as board member Karista Jones talks about a state partnership zone for low performing schools during a meeting of the Hamilton County Board of Education on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

District 5

Incumbent Karitsa Mosley Jones, 37, will keep her District 5 school board seat.

Mosley Jones, a social worker and avid advocate for the district's Opportunity Zone schools, beat opponent Ann Pierre, 72, by a wide margin, 4,116 to 1,306.

Elected vice chairman of the board in 2016, she has served on the board for four years.

Pierre, a longtime community activist, managed the former Church Koinonia Federal Credit Union that merged with the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union.

Mosley Jones said she was excited for what the next four years have to bring.

"I am excited to see us continue to work to be the fastest-improving district in the state of Tennessee, and continue to see growth in the district, especially in the schools that I represent because those kids are my heart," she said.

photo Hamilton County School Board District 6 candidate Jenny Hill answers questions during a debate hosted by UnifiEd at Lookout Valley High School on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Incumbent board member Joe Galloway is not seeking re-election.

District 6

Jenny Hill, 39, who co-owns Papercut Interactive with her husband and whose two children attend Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, defeated Michael Henry 4,154 to 1,557.

"What we know is that people in District 6 care a great deal about public education and they want better for their children and for all children in Hamilton County," Hill said.

Hill ran on a platform advocating for better school maintenance plans, a full audit of Hamilton County facilities and multi-year budgeting.

Henry declined to comment on the results.

photo David Testerman, incumbent, talks about why he is running for Hamilton County school board again at East Ridge Elementary School Monday, May 8, 2018 in East Ridge, Tenn. The debate was the first of a series of debates to be hosted UnifiEd between Hamilton County school board candidates. Testerman is a former teacher.

District 8

By a narrow margin, 23-year-old Tucker McClendon toppled incumbent David Testerman, 67, to win the District 8 seat. The vote total was 2,612 to 2,480.

A recent graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, McClendon's political experience stems mostly from student government involvement and campaign management.

Testerman, first elected in 2010, has served two terms on the school board. The longtime educator worked at a variety of schools in a myriad roles in Hamilton County before he retired.

"The election was a rollercoaster," McClendon said. "I think it put the board on notice that we want some new ideas and fresh faces and can think outside the box. I am ready to do that."

McClendon is currently the assistant market manager for Public Markets Inc. and works for the Chattanooga Market.

photo District 9 incumbent Steve Highlander speaks during a school board debate hosted by UnifiEd and Chattanooga 2.0 at Ooltewah High School on Monday, May 14, 2018 in Ooltewah, Tenn.

District 9

Incumbent board member and current board chairman Steve Highlander, 66, beat out his much-younger opponent D'Andre Anderson, 19, to retain the District 9 seat. The vote was 4,512 to 1,677.

"I'm honored to serve District 9 again. I am going to recommit myself to working hard for the students, parents, taxpayers and teachers of Hamilton County," he said.

The chairman also noted that he wanted to welcome new board members to the board.

Since he was elected, Highlander has been a vocal member of the school board, working closely with the school superintendent, serving on the district's Equity Task Force and advocating for better safety measures in schools.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.