Part One: A Williamson school board endorsement guide

Part One: A Williamson school board endorsement guide

There have been a lot of endorsements and suggestions thrown out for the Williamson County School Board. Here’s which groups like which candidates.

During the past few weeks, several groups – both PACs and partisan – have suggested and endorsed candidates for the Williamson County School Board.

Here’s the breakdown per district of what groups supported which candidates. There have been four groups pulling weight into the process: the Williamson Business PAC, WillCo Rising, the Williamson County Republican Party and the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition. One Williamson individual, Lee Douglas, also made a list of suggestions. He posted those on the 9.12 Project Nashville page.

The 9.12 Project was accused of being a political action committee last summer by a Brentwood man.

The Williamson County Homeschool Coalition is a closed Facebook group, run by Julie West, who is a textbook activist. Last summer, the group was accused of being a political action committee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Registry and Finance has still taken no action on either claim.

The Williamson County Democratic Party has said it will not endorse anyone for school board.

Back in early June, the WillCo Rising PAC said it sided with Angela Durham, the only group to give her an endorsement. WillCo Rising is a PAC strictly focused on supporting political candidates in Williamson County.

“We believe that Ms. Durham edges out her opponent for a variety of reasons, not least of which is her tenure and experience as president of the PTO for Fairview Middle School,” the group wrote in its announcement. “She is also highly recommended by people in the district whose opinions we respect.”

Durham said previously she wasn’t looking for endorsements from either PACs or partisan parties.

“I have never and will never dedicate any large amount of my time to anything in the political field, as I have interests well beyond areas I cannot directly impact and choose to spend my time on those matters,” she said. “I am proud to have the endorsement of the WillCo Rising PAC, whose mission and interests are directly in alignment with mine.”

Her opposition, Richard Davis, had three of the five back him, with the most recent being the Williamson County Republican Party.

“I am proud to be Republican,” he said. “I am proud that they chose me to endorse. I want to include everyone in helping with the schools. As has been my policy throughout this campaign, l will not accept any financial donations from any group. I support everyone and I hope everyone can support me. With everyone working together we can overcome anything.”

The Williamson Business PAC previously said they declined to make an endorsement for this race because of the strength of both candidates.

Of all of the candidates, Kim Little received the most nods from the given groups.

Little said she appreciated the endorsements and was grateful for the trust they placed in her as a District Three representative.

“Even in a non-partisan race, community members want to be informed of candidates that are in agreement with their viewpoint,” she said.

Though, the WillCo Rising PAC supported her opposition. They said they didn’t back Little because the group believed she was handpicked by outgoing member PJ Mezera, who said he wouldn’t run again for re-election.

“Christy Coleman is a political newcomer who is energetic, fearless and has been fighting the good fight against those who wish to do our school system harm from day one,” the group wrote in its announcement. “Eliot Mitchell brings political experience to the table, shares the same interest in pushing back against the anti-WCS tide and is — to our minds — more reflective of the political demographics of the district.”

Christy Coleman hasn’t received any endorsements.

The Williamson Business PAC also declined to endorse in this race, citing residents had three good options to choose from on the ballot.

District Four candidates Joey Czarneski and incumbent Anne McGraw have the complete opposite of each other in shared political backing.

The WillCo Rising PAC said picking between the two candidates was an easy decision.

“Ms. McGraw has been a welcome addition to the board since her appointment last September to replace the outgoing (and hardly ever there anyway) Paul Bartholomew,” the group wrote. “She has been reasonable, policy-minded and forthright without being unduly argumentative. Her opponent, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the folks behind the push to oust Dr. [Mike] Looney last summer as well as the folks who wanted to foist Laurie Cardoza-Moore on our county.”

In the same vein, the Williamson Business PAC also endorsed McGraw.

Last week, she said she didn’t agree with partisan groups entering the Fourth District race because she believed it was injecting politics into the race.

“I don’t think this is contributing to the culture of a unified community we’re trying to build within the board and among our constituents,” she said. “I’m certain no one wants to see our public schools being used as a political playing field.”

At least one of those groups backed Czarneski, who said he was fine with the support. He also said he believed it made sense.

“Even though the school board is a non-partisan position, it is important to know that I am a Republican and a conservative,” he said. “I have been endorsed by the Williamson County Republican Party while my opponent has, through a federal voter registration form, registered as a Democrat.

“In addition, my opponent, as well as others, have been endorsed by Political Action Committees (PAC) and it is important to remember that non-partisan does not mean non-political. For my opponent, as well as other candidates, to suggest that the WCRP is using our schools as a ‘political playing field’ while they are accepting the endorsement of political action committees could be considered disingenuous.”

Czarneski also said he was proud to have the endorsement of the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition.

Similar to District Four, the District Five candidates have the similar tug of war between four of the five groups endorsing candidates.

The WillCo Rising PAC said they considered Gary Anderson the rock of the Williamson County School Board. He currently serves as chairman after his 26 years on the board.

“Mr. Anderson’s experience, competence and discernment have been much appreciated by the public and the board itself, which unanimously appointed him to the chair last August,” the group wrote. “Given that his opponent seems to see herself as Susan Curlee 2.0, there was no easier call to make in this election.”

Challenger Julie Mauck wrote on her candidate Facebook page she didn’t understand why her opposition was honored to receive the WillCo Rising endorsement.

“My opponent being ‘honored’ by this endorsement leaves me speechless, but I guess money talks when you have no kids in the schools,” she wrote. “I didn’t even respond to their email after taking one look at their page. They should be called the ‘Smear Anyone Who’s Not An Incumbent PAC.’ Terrible PR for new families checking out our schools on Facebook. Shameful bullying by ‘adults.'”

Anderson has also nabbed the endorsement of the Williamson Business PAC, which interviewed his opponent.

“The success of a community’s public school system is often recognized as a contributor to a healthy and vibrant business environment,” he wrote. “The continued success of WCS is critical to keeping our county recognized as a national leader in job creation and a great place to live and work.”

On her Facebook page, Mauck has gone back and forth with the leaders of the Williamson Business PAC over its backing. She also criticized Anderson for taking the endorsement.

This is Part One in a series of two. The second installment will run on Tuesday, July 26.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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