Knox County Commissions hold fate of partisan school board bill

Knox County Commissions hold fate of partisan school board bill

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"You run in partisan races because you stand for different philosophies, you stand for the different parties selections that you can make, and that's what people want to know," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said. "You run in partisan races because you stand for different philosophies, you stand for the different parties selections that you can make, and that's what people want to know," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said.
"Politics doesn't drive my vote. I'm going to look for what they stand for and party is unimportant to me," said Anderson County resident Linda Pappas. "Politics doesn't drive my vote. I'm going to look for what they stand for and party is unimportant to me," said Anderson County resident Linda Pappas.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County School Board races are non-partisan. The candidate's name on the ballot isn't attached to a label like Republican or Democrat.

However, that could change under legislation filed by two Knoxville legislators.  

State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey and State Rep. Bill Dunn have filed bills allowing counties to elect school board members on a partisan basis.  

Massey and Dunn say the bill will only go forward if it first gets support from Knox County Commissioners.    

For years, Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith says many of his constituents wanted to vote for school board members knowing which party they're affiliated with.  

"You run in partisan races because you stand for different philosophies, you stand for the different parties selections that you can make, and that's what people want to know," Smith said.  

The current bill would let each county commission in the state decide whether school board elections should be partisan starting in 2014.  

Rep. Dunn introduced the bill because of Smith's endorsement.  

"People will have more of an interest who wins the primary and then in the actual race, and the voters went out because they have more information in the voting booth to make their decision," said Dunn. 

Dunn says the measure isn't aimed at current school board members.   

"The bulk of the issues we face don't have partisan elements to them," said Kincannon, a Knox County Board of Education member.  

A three-term board member and vice chair, Indya Kincannon says political affiliation has no business with school boards.  

"My impression of this focus of the bill is to consolidate political power, not to help academic achievement or help schools or help students," she said.

Some voters 6 News spoke with, parents themselves, say they, too, don't feel political parties need to be involved with local school boards elections.  

"Politics doesn't drive my vote. I'm going to look for what they stand for and party is unimportant to me," said Anderson County resident Linda Pappas.  

"I vote based on their past records, education, their values, and it has nothing to do with their political affiliation," said Knoxville resident Bill Nesbitt.  

The key vote will come next week when county commissioners vote on a resolution showing support for the bill.  

Some commissioners were spilt on the issue. 

Commissioner Sam McKenzie says he wouldn't support partisan school board elections.  

Commissioner Mike Brown says he hasn't made up his mind, but probably would not support it, unless he's convinced otherwise.

Meanwhile several bills have been introduced in Nashville allowing communities to elect rather than appoint school superintendents.

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