Mud Slinging Starts In Nashville School Board Race
by Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Voters in Nashville's school board District 5 received a flyer in this mail this week that criticized Metro Nashville School Board chair Gracie Porter.
The flyer took Porter's apple campaign symbol and turned it into a rotten apple and gave the long-time educator a failing grade for her performance as board chair.
Porter found two of the flyers in her own mailbox.
"And when I flipped it over and saw it was paid for by SEIU I was not shocked," Porter said.
The Service Employees International Union Local 205 is responsible for the information that went out to voters.
"My experience in this school district for 34 years does not look like this," Porter said.
The political director said the information in the mailer did not reflect Porter's three decades as an educator, but her time as chair of the school board.
"We felt as Chair she wasn't doing her due diligence as being accountable as an elected official," explained Freda Player.
Player said as head of the board of education she has given to much power to schools director Dr. Jesse Register in determining district policy.
"We felt that the school board, particularly with Chair Gracie Porter, that they make Dr. Register make a lot of policies when it's the school board's authority to make and create policies," according to Player.
Porter said she believed there was a bigger issue behind sending the flyer to voters in District 5.
"I think this is a desperate call because of the loss of members that they've had. They're less than 1,000 members with a school district of 10,000 employees," Porter explained.
"No this is not about gaining new members. We know how to recruit new members, this is about the election. This is about the accountability of elected officials," Player said.
The SEIU has endorsed several candidates in the school board election. The union did not endorse a candidate in District 5 because none of the people running returned the organization's questionnaire.