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Outgoing members of Knox Co. Board of Education urge people vote in newly partisan election

Five school board seats in Knox County are up for election this year. Three of them have contested primaries.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Outgoing Knox County Board of Education members Patti Bounds and Virginia Babb said people in the county should pay attention to the school board primaries, which will be held on Tuesday, May 3. 

Five seats are up for election this year.  Five seats represent a majority on the Knox County Board of Education. Three of the five seats will be filled by new school board members, coupled with a new superintendent of schools for Knox County. 

"We've got a new superintendent who has lots of ideas," said Babb. 

Board members Bounds, Babb and Evetty Satterfield did not run for re-election. 

This year is the first time Tennessee law allows for partisan primaries in school board elections. In November, the Knox County Republicans sent a letter to the Election Commission, formally requesting a primary for the 2022 school board election.

Shortly thereafter, the Knox County Democrats did the same. They said they did it reluctantly. 

The other two board members up for re-election, Kristi Kristy and Betsy Henderson are both running in the Republican primaries. 

"I think the board faces some huge challenges going forward," said Bounds. "It makes a huge difference to the schools that your children attend and how those schools are managed." 

Babb and Bounds said the challenges facing the Knox County Board of Education in the coming years will be the teacher shortage and early education's impact on later education. 

"Finding quality teachers and retaining those teachers is huge," said Bounds. 

Bounds said most people already know which way school board members lean politically, so she hopes there isn't a big change. 

Babb said she thinks it may affect some of the members' decision-making. 

"You're having to think about party endorsement for the next election," Babb said. "I think that can sometimes skew how you think about an issue." 

The candidates running for each seat are listed below, according to the Knox County Election Commission. 

District 1: 

  • John Butler (D)
  • Charles Frazier (D)
  • Breyauna Holloway (I)
  • Reginald Jackson (I) 

District 4: 

  • Will Edwards (R)
  • Katherine Bike (D)

District 6:

  • Betsy Henderson (R)
  • Phillip Michael Sherman (I)

District 7: 

  • Sherri Garrett (R)
  • Steve Triplett (R)
  • Dominique Oakley (I)

District 9

  • Phil King (R)
  • Kristi Kristy (R)
  • Annabel Henley (D)

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