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Nick WIlkins, left, and Tiffanie Robinson campaign in front of the Carver Recreation Center's District 4 voting precinct on Election Day.

After eight years of representing District 4 on the Hamilton County Board of Education, incumbent George Ricks lost his seat to Tiffanie Robinson, who squeaked out a narrow victory last Thursday night.

Robinson received 807 votes compared to Ricks' 753, with 2,185 total votes cast.

Covering a strip in the center of the county, District 4 encompasses portions of the Southside and East Chattanooga and contains 14 schools, many of which are among the poorest and lowest-performing in the school district.

"I'm just really excited," Robinson said. "Three of the four incumbents have been unseated, and that means Hamilton County is ready for change."

Speaking about her close victory, Robinson said. "We knew that it would be close. We actually ended up winning by more votes than we predicted."

As president of Lamp Post Properties and partner at the JumpFund, Robinson is bringing years of professional and entrepreneurial experience to the position and has said she will be enrolling her kids in District 4 schools.

She ran on a platform of hope for change in the school system, saying the district should move away from its current budgeting practice based on basic enrollment numbers and adopt student-based budgeting, which provides principals with increased autonomy and can be more equitable.

Fellow contender Montrell Besley teaches health and physical education at Woodmore Elementary School, and received 522 votes. During his campaign, the 35-year-old said he and his kids are products of the public education system, and he hoped to improve the schools and his community.

Annette Thompson was also on the ballot, although she did not actively campaign over the last several months.

Speaking about Ricks and Robinson, Besley said, "I wish them both well. It was a great race ran. I just learned a lot and I had fun doing it."

During his campaign, Ricks argued that few people understand the challenges faced by Hamilton County. He said the system suffers from a lack of community support and a long history of underfunding, and candidates need to understand the reality of serving on the school board.

In a debate with Robinson and Besley in June, Ricks said politics inevitably get involved and school board members must be able "to play that game."

After his loss last week, Ricks said, "I'm proud of my service that I've given to the school children."

He said he would continue to volunteer in the school system, something he said he'd done for years before he got onto the school board.

In 2012, Ricks ran unopposed and received 2,239 votes.

Contact Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 757-6731.

Contact Kendi Rainwater at krainwater@timesfreepress.com or 757-6592.

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