Although the election is almost a year away, already one candidate has emerged for the Metro Board of Education’s District 6 seat, a position left vacant as current board member Karen Johnson launches a campaign for Juvenile Court Clerk.
Cheryl D. Mayes, a longtime volunteer in the district schools, has kicked off her candidacy by launching a campaign Web site  and planning an upcoming meet-and-greet for late October. She is the first candidate to officially announce her bid for the seat.
Mayes told The City Paper that her decision to run was inspired by her hope to continue the work Johnson has done for the district in her time on the board.
“She has made a lot of great strives in the southeast Davidson County area, and my fear was that it would just drop off,” Mayes said.
A mother of three, Mayes says she has extensive experience working with PTO and PTA programs, as well as recently serving as a representative on the Community Task Force on Student Assignments.
Mayes says that a key area of focus for her campaign will be working to gather greater community involvement in the district schools.
“Our parents give, our administrators and teachers give, the students do everything that they can, but unfortunately sometimes we don't have as much community involvement as we need to,” she said. “If you put all four pieces together, you are going to have a valuable tool.”
Communication, Mayes says, is the key to bringing the community back into the schools. “A lot of the time we don't reach out to the community leaders or the businesses to ask for what we need,” she added.
Mayes’ bid for the school board seat has caught the attention of Johnson, who has known the candidate for a number of years, calling her is “an outstanding candidate.”
“She has been an extremely involved mother within the district, in all facets, both at the board level and at the district level,” Johnson said. “I think that's what sets her apart.”
Johnson said that whomever ends up with her seat will have to continue to offer the high level of communication and accessibility her constituents have come to expect.
“They're used to being able to get information and having access to me at all times, so that person would definitely be someone who will over-communicate and be involved both in schools and the neighborhood associations,” she said.
In addition to launching a Web site, Mayes plans to meet and greet potential voters from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 29 at Raz’z restaurant on Murfreesboro Pike. In the meantime, she plans to talk to parents, students and administrators to take a measure of the current schools situation.
“My personal philosophy is that you can't fix it unless you know what people think is broken,” Mayes said.