Thurman, Wingate, Perez win Hamilton County school board election

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Hamilton County District 1 board member Rhonda Thurman

A push to elect two new conservatives to the Hamilton County Schools board failed at the polls Thursday night, but voters handily reelected conservative Rhonda Thurman despite a challenge from a candidate backed by the teacher's union.

In the campaign, District 1, District 2 and District 7 each had contested elections, while District 4 school board member Tiffanie Robinson ran unopposed for reelection.

Some hot topics during the election were reopening schools plans, testing and future school funding.

In each of the three contested races, one candidate was endorsed by the conservative Good Government PAC and one endorsed by the teacher's union PAC. With all 153 voting locations reporting in, here were the unofficial results:

District 1

Incumbent Thurman bested challenger Stephen Vickers for District 1. She told the Times Free Press she "represents the citizens, taxpayers and students in District 1."

"I know what my job is. And people think it is to go out and represent the teachers; my job is to represent all of the citizens in District 1," Thurman said. "Teachers have two organizations to represent them. I am the only representation that taxpayers have in District 1."

Thurman has 3,554 votes to Vickers' 3,130 votes.

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Thurman, first elected to the board in 2004, told the Times Free Press this week that two of her top priorities are the district's reopening plans and students' reading levels.

Vickers said his priorities were communication, school and technology infrastructure along with creating a scholarship. He was backed by the teacher's union.

District 2

The lively fight for the open District 2 ended up with newcomer Marco Perez, heavily backed by teachers, besting conservative Tom Decosimo, with 5,272 votes to 3,850.

Perez told the Times Free Press on Thursday night he is "deeply honored and humbled by the response and support I received from District 2 voters."

"Clearly they have seen the advances we've made in education and are ready to continue on the path to making Hamilton County the best district in the state. As I've spoken with hundreds of parents, teachers and students, their top concern is the changes to education in this coming year. I am excited to work together in support of our teachers and schools. I am committed to serve this community over the next four years so that our public schools can continue to offer an excellent education to all of our students."

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Businessman Decosimo thanked his supporters and congratulated Perez in a Times Free Press phone interview on Thursday evening.

"And I hope all of the citizens of District 2 will join Marco in helping to push forward our school system for our 45,000 students," he said.

District 7

Incumbent Joe Wingate, the board chairman, topped challenger Debbi Meyers for the District 7 seat, with 3,714 votes. Meyers received 3,154 votes.

While both had similarities in opinions on the district's handling of COVID-19 and the necessity of technology and resources, divisions arose over why they were running for the position.

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Wingate expressed his desire to continue with positive changes he said he has helped bring in during his four years on the board, including academic growth and achievement. Meyers said she found fault in Wingate's governance and was running to better represent the conservative voice of the residents in the county.

Contact Monique Brand at

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