Unions representing teachers and support staff workers in separate announcements last week unveiled endorsements for Metro’s school board races in advance of the Aug. 2 election.
The Service Employees International Union Local 205, which represents the school district’s support staff workers, opted not to endorse in the District 5 race in which board chair Gracie Porter is looking to fend off three challengers.
Mark Naccarato told The City Paper none of the District 5 candidates returned the SEIU’s questionnaire, so none received the union’s endorsement.
Porter, who enjoyed SEIU’s support during her first school board run, voted to outsource school custodians two years ago and has supported Director of Schools Jesse Register’s decision to undo the district’s “memorandum of understanding” policy with support staff employees. SEIU vehemently opposed both moves.
In the District 1 race between two sitting board members — Sharon Gentry and Ed Kindall — the SEIU endorsed Kindall.
“He’s often the only one in the school board meetings who asks the tough questions and tries to hold Dr. Register accountable,” said Cordelia Howard, a school secretary, in the SEIU’s announcement.
In the District 3 school board race to fill departing board member Mark North’s seat, SEIU endorsed Free Lee, a licensed teacher and attorney.
SEIU endorsed Al Wilkins in the board’s District 7 race and Amy Frogge for District 9, the seat currently held by Kay Simmons, who has opted to not seek re-election.
The Metro Nashville Education Association’s Political Action Committee for Education endorsed both Gentry and Kindall. The two sitting board members were drawn into the same political boundaries during redistricting last year.
“The decision to choose between two dedicated, experienced people was impossible,” MNEA president Stephen Henry said.
“It’s a shame two dedicated current school board members have been forced into a race against each other,” he added.
The teachers’ union endorsed Jill Speering in the District 3 race. Other District 3 candidates are Lee and Jarod DeLozier.
MNEA, in the District 5 election, endorsed Porter over her three opponents: Elissa Kim, Erica Lanier and John Haubenreich.
In the District 7 contest, MNEA endorsed Will Pinkston, a former aide under Gov. Phil Bredesen. Other District 7 candidates are Wilkins and Alan Sharp.
In District 9, MNEA endorsed businesswoman Margaret Dolan. Other candidates are Frogge, former Councilman Eric Crafton, Bob Bogen and Ronnie Osborne.