Smith keeps District 3 school board seat

Joe Smith, founder of the YMCA's YCAP program, will be honored tonight with a roast at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Joe Smith, founder of the YMCA's YCAP program, will be honored tonight with a roast at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

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.

During 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."

Hurley said she was thankful for having entered the race.

"I learned a lot about the political process and hope that I've empowered other women and young girls to get involved in politics," she said in a statement. "I will continue to do the work that I set out to do through advocating empowering our community, our teachers, our students and the administrators."

In May, Smith and fellow board member Rhonda Thurman, of District 1, generated plenty of headlines when they denounced UnifiEd's APEX report and some of the actions of the Equity Task Force launched by new Superintendent Bryan Johnson. The controversy spurred weeks of community debate about equity, school segregation and more, as well as an increase in attacks against UnifiEd by The Horizon PAC.

Hurley was the only candidate to receive official funding and support from the UnifiEd Action PAC, which never publicly endorsed school board candidates.

In a statement Thursday night, Jonas Barriere, executive director of the UnifiEd Action PAC said it is time to support the newly-elected officials.

"For too long, the words 'ensuring a quality education for all children' have been spoken and not followed up with actions. This election has shown that community engagement brings greater clarity and accountability in choosing elected officials who will take action," he said in a statement. "Now that the election is over, it is time to unite behind our newly elected officials and come together to improve public education for every child."

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

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