Williamson County Republican Party picks out four Williamson school board candidates


Williamson County Republican Party picks out four Williamson school board candidates

The Williamson County Republican Party has endorsed four candidates in the Williamson County School Board race.

The Williamson County Republican Party announced endorsements on Tuesday for four candidates in the Williamson County School Board race.

Right now, 16 candidates are vying for seven spots on the board. Odd numbered seats are up for the taking this year along with District Four, which had a resignation from the seat in summer 2015 and an appointment from the county commission to fill the vacancy.

The party endorsed District One’s Richard Davis, District Three’s Kim Little, District Four’s Joey Czarneski and District 11’s Stuart Cooper.

Davis is running against Fairview mom Angela Durham. Little has two opponents in Spring Hill: Eliot Mitchell and Christy Coleman. Czarneski will face incumbent Anne McGraw, and Cooper will run against Franklin dad KC Haugh.

“In an effort to better inform our community of voters, this is definitely what needs to be done so that loyal voting Republicans know which candidate to support,” WCRP party chairman Julie Hannah said. “The Williamson County Republican Party is committed to electing qualified Republicans to all levels of government and to positively and responsibly communicate the Republican message.”

Hannah went on to explained that the party’s bylaws gave them the opportunity to endorse candidates and the Tennessee GOP doesn’t exclude the option. A vote in favor of this endorsement unanimously passed at the July meeting of the WCRP Executive Committee. The amount of money taken by schools also went into the decision for endorsing candidates, as the Williamson County Schools will take up 65 percent of county’s most recently passed budget. It’s 75 percent if debt service is included.

“Plus, each of our endorsed candidates is a professional and compassionate citizen with leadership, business, community, and parenting experiences that will positively contribute to the continued success of our public schools and the complexities of our community and school growth challenges,” she said.

Hannah said they didn’t endorse candidates in every race because several candidates had Republican voting records running in each district. The party said it won’t take sides when both candidates are Republicans.

As one of the four selected, Cooper said he was pleased to have endorsement by the party. He has said at a Home Page forum and his candidate interview that he was a Republican.

“I am honored to have the support of our county’s Republican party,” Cooper said. “With three out of four voters in Williamson County identifying as Republican, this endorsement signals to conservatives in our county that I am the candidate that best reflects their values. I believe voters deserve to know the values and principles of their candidates. Those who claim to have no political intentions in running for a public office merely want to hide their own. I am unashamed of my conservative track record, and I am proud to accept this endorsement.”

Little said she appreciated the endorsement 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.

This is not the first non-partisan race in which the party has selected in the last 12 months. In September 2015, the party chose candidates it supported in the Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman race, which had four at-large seats up for grabs.

And those who didn’t receive the endorsement from the Republican Party said they weren’t sure a partisan group was endorsing candidates at all.

“It’s unfortunate that some groups are trying to inject politics into a non-partisan race,” District Four incumbent McGraw said. “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, and I’m certain no one wants to see our public schools being used as a political playing field.”

Cooper’s competition Haugh responded in similar form, noting that he didn’t affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic Parties.

“School board members take an oath to not represent partisan politics,” said Haugh, who is running for the District 11 seat. “I’m an Independent, who appreciates and respects all perspectives, which is what a school board member should do. We’ve seen how hyper-partisanship has harmed our schools, teachers, and students over the last two years, and it’s disappointing to see the same divisive tactics tried again this election.”

District Three candidate Coleman said she was disappointed and felt that it disrespected the election process.

“All candidates in my district responded to a survey that the party sent out under the guise that their constituents would have the opportunity to hear the answers to the questions that matter most to them,” Coleman said. “At no time did this survey state the intentions of endorsing candidates. Given the divisiveness of our board over the past few years, we need to elect leaders who will focus on important issues such as rezoning and the budget. I have proven my commitment to work hard for the county by my actions, not just by words.”

Accordingto Mitchell’s voting record of the last 16 years, he has voted Republican the last 12 of the 15 elections. He only voted Democrat three times.

“Only one candidate in District 3 has voted in more then one Republican primary and that is not the candidate endorsed by the Williamson County Republican Executive Committee,” he said. “If you have to be a Jeremy Durham supporter to get an endorsement from the Williamson County Republican Executive Committee, only my opponent will receive that endorsement. From a purely technical standpoint, this endorsement appears to be contrary to the State of Tennessee GOP bylaws. The endorsed candidate does not qualify as a ‘Bona fide Republican’ as defined by these bylaws.”

District One candidate Angela Durham said she could fully respect that a partisan group would endorse the the candidate who has a consistent history of participating in that party’s interests and voting accordingly. She noted she was thankful it wasn’t a partisan race, and never would have expected to receive the consideration of either party, as her interests have never been in the political arena, but rather, the direct interests of the students, faculty, staff and administration at the most minute, local level.

“While I realize that broader political issues impact our schools and can sway our school board members in their decision making, I stand firm in my stance that education is local and should be entrusted to those at the local level who know our students’ needs the best,” she said. “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. I am proud to have the endorsement of the WillCo Rising PAC, whose mission and interests are directly in alignment with mine. Additionally, I am grateful to have the endorsements and support of those who really matter in this election – the parents, staff, leadership and district citizens who know me well and know where my heart and interests remain.”

The Home Page has reached out to the remaining two candidates for their comments about the endorsement.

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

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

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