Tucker McClendon, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student, is running for a seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education.
McClendon is running for the District 8 seat now held by David Testerman, who has filed to run for re-election this year.facebook
The nonpartisan school board is elected during the general election on Aug. 2.
McClendon, a political science major who intends to graduate this May, now serves as the UTC Student Government Association's chairman of government and external affairs.
Though he was born in neighboring Cleveland, Tenn., McClendon has been a resident of District 8 since he was a toddler. He attended Hamilton County public schools throughout his educational career, including graduating from Ooltewah High School in 2013.
"I see a lot of issues in our schools," he said. "And it's been like that and I haven't seen a lot of changes over the years, and that's something I want to change for my kids — if I can make any difference now, it's not only making a difference for my kids, but for everyone."
One of McClendon's top priorities as a school board representative is to increase transparency and accessibility, something he thinks is lacking from the current board.
"My No. 1 focus is a transparency and openness," he said. "As a representative, I think that's something that the board is lacking. I think we've seen in particular where a lot of stuff is introduced or comes out in the media one or two days before it's voted on."
"I want to be open and accessible to my constituents in District 8. I want everyone to have my cell phone number and my email, so if they have a question and don't know who to contact, they know they can come to me," he added.
McClendon also hopes to increase equitable access to opportunities across all Hamilton County Schools, citing for example the fact that District 8 is the only district without one of the county's 16 Volkswagen eLabs.
"If we are giving students these opportunities we need to do it in an equitable way," he said. "We need to make sure we're giving all Hamilton County students the same opportunities."
McClendon said he is encouraged by some of the progress made since Superintendent Bryan Johnson took the helm, as well as the work of community partners in improving Hamilton County Schools.
"Right now, we're at a turning point, we're at a pivotal moment in Hamilton County's education history," he said. "I think we could make the right decisions and become the state's, or even the nation's, most-improving district, or we can continue with the same problems, the same way of doing things."
The filing deadline for the Aug. 2 county general election is April 5.