🏫 School Board Enthusiasts 🏫 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team's School Board Blog
Hamilton County Recently held its School Board Elections for Districts 1, 2, 4, and 7 on August 6th. We wanted to fill you in with all the information about the winners of the election who will become the next...
school board candidates for each District.
District 1 saw Stephen Vickers run against incumbent Rhonda Thurman, with Rhonda Thurman winning in her closest campaign in many years. In District 2, Tom Decosimo and Marco Perez faced off to replace Kathy Lennon, with Marco Perez winning handily. In District 4, Tiffanie Robinson ran unopposed for another four years on the board. Finally, in District 7, Debbi Meyers ran against incumbent School Board Chairperson Joe Wingate, with Joe Wingate winning another term. Below we will introduce all of the new school board members who will be taking over for the School Board’s September meeting.
District 1: Rhonda Thurman With campaigns winding down and election results in, it’s safe to say one thing: Stephen Vickers fought hard, but Rhonda Thurman prevailed. Mrs. Thurman has secured her position on the board once again for another four years. As the longest-serving member on our school board (having served for 16 years), she has committed her energy and time, demonstrating that she is genuinely committed to the school system. As one of the more outspoken members of the board, Mrs. Thurman repeatedly stated that her refusal to be a “yes-man” who will simply vote items through to speed up the voting. Mrs. Thurman prides herself on asking the hard questions necessary to understand the topics she isn’t familiar with, all to vote the best way she knows how.
Mrs. Thurman places the construction of the football stadiums at Sale Creek and Soddy Middle School at the very top of her priorities list. Besides being a spunky board member, she also works as a hairdresser at Allure Beauty Salon and devotes her time to family. Her relatively recent remarks on business closures due to COVID-19 paired with her objectives on the Hamilton County schools’ reopening plan illustrate her views on the coronavirus. She believes that business owners and essential workers have the right to work if they choose to and education trumps safety.
Essentially, her views on the pandemic are that the public should have the right to select the options that make them the most comfortable during this time. Whether the topic is the Coronavirus or the repair of school facilities, you never quite know what Thurman might say next. One thing is for sure; she will stand firm in her beliefs and make sure her voice is heard on the board.
District 2: Marco Perez Marco Perez is a resident of Signal Mountain and has two daughters currently attending Signal Mountain Middle/High School. His oldest daughter graduated from Signal Mountain in 2019 and now attends Princeton University. Throughout his campaign, Marco Perez emphasized that students should have equal access to technology, teachers should be fairly compensated, and students should be safe while they are at school, among other campaign ideas. Marco is replacing incumbent Kathy Lennon, who chose not to run again due to personal medical concerns. Marco’s opponent was businessman Tom Decosimo, and the two ran a tough race--ultimately, Marco prevailed by a margin of 57%-42%. Marco holds an MBA, a Master’s Degree in Ministry Leadership, and has extensive experience with local businesses and nonprofits. Marco is also the owner of ReLife Strategies, “where he spends his time helping businesses and organizations find finance and operational efficiencies” (Source). It appears that Marco will continue the tone set by his predecessor, but exactly how vocal he will be on the board is still to be determined.
District 4: Tiffanie Robinson Tiffanie Robinson was first elected to the school board back in 2016 and has kept a lower profile than other board members, but don’t let her approachable demeanor fool you; she is not to be overlooked. The Tampa, Florida native, never shies away from expressing her concerns for the students and expressing her commitment to understanding each child’s different challenges our county experiences. When she’s not speaking on the board, she works as the president of Lamp Post Properties and is a partner of the JumpFund, which supports “women investing in women.” Tiffanie is infamous for unloading her list of questions during votes on the agenda, but that’s the kind of representative one would want for their distinctness. She’s never afraid to admit when she doesn’t understand the topic of discussion and consistently asks the other members how they feel about the same issues. Her unopposed win came as to no surprise but was well deserved nonetheless.
District 7: Joe Wingate Joe Wingate, with his prior experience in education, will hopefully plan a good future for District 7. With his victory this August, we look forward to a more detailed description of the school system budget, which was discussed only briefly during his campaign. It seems that his past education experience will guide his future decisions; however, his belief, expressed during the campaign, that masks are a matter of opinion and are unnecessary for safety is still very worrisome. Despite this (and as stated in the debate blogs earlier this summer), it is easy to see that Mr. Wingate means well and cares for the students of District 7. Based on this, we are hopeful that he will do what is best for the students, staff, and parents in District 7.
Bottom Line Overall, It seems that the board remains relatively unchanged from its previous state. The only board member change was with Marco Perez taking Kathy Lennon’s seat. Perhaps, Marco will be more vocal than Mrs. Lennon, or newly re-elected members will be more vocal now that they’re seats are secure for the next four years, but we will have to wait until the September school board meeting to find this out.