Kincannon Endorses Tracie Sanger as Her Replacement (in November, That Is)

As we wrote earlier today, there are a whopping 10 people seeking the interim appointment to Indya Kincannon’s 2nd District seat on the Knox County Schools Board of Education. Most of the candidates come from an educational background, and many seem eminently qualified to hold the position for three months, until a replacement for the rest of Kincannon’s term is elected in November.

However, some of the would-be interim appointees are also planning to run for election to serve the last two years of Kincannon’s term. Some are not. So we thought we’d ask the outgoing Board member herself if she had any thoughts about the candidates, and if she was planning to endorse an appointee or not. (Not that the Knox County Commission, which will make the appointment in two weeks, would necessarily take that into account, but you never know.)

Kincannon says, at this point, she is not endorsing anyone for the interim appointment. But she is endorsing someone for the November election, and that person is Fountain City resident and KCS elementary school special education teacher Tracie Sanger.

Here’s the email Kincannon sent:

I will endorse for the election, but not sure about the appointment. I’m not sure if Commission wants a caretaker, who is definitely NOT running in November, or if they are ok with someone who is going to run for the position too.

I know, or know of, all but one of the 10 people who’ve applied for the interim appointment. I think most would do a good job. Some candidates are more familiar with education issues than others, so that would be something I’d hope Commissioners would consider since there’s no time for a steep learning curve.

I’m supporting Tracie Sanger in the November election [emphasis hers]. Tracie would provide the perspective of a parent with kids in school today (at Shannondale and Gresham).* She’s been an effective advocate for Shannondale, has teaching experience (Special Ed), including at several urban schools, and is already well-versed in the most pressing issues, e.g. teacher evaluations, testing, etc.

Thanks for asking.


*With the recent turnover on the Board, Doug Harris will be the only BOE member with a child currently in KCS, and his youngest will graduate in December. Other Board members kids are grown, or about to be born, or they may have grandkids in KCS, but having at least one BOE member with a kid in school is helpful. The day to day experience of my daughters, along with my presence in schools as a parent, has always helped inform my decisions on the Board. It is a useful reference point beyond blogs, news reports, 3rd person accounts.

Sanger officially appointed her husband as her campaign treasurer on July 29, so she’s had the legal ability to raise money since then. Kincannon’s endorsement could propel her status in the race—or it could doom her candidacy from the start.

Kincannon is a controversial Board member, beloved by many in her district and loathed by many outside it. She’s smart and outspoken and one of the few representatives who almost always does her homework. But Kincannon is also a supporter of most of Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s policies and reforms, and she hasn’t been shy about criticizing his critics. And you can bet any of those critics who don’t want Sanger elected will use this endorsement against her.

But at this point, without any petitions in, there’s no knowing how much opposition Sanger will even have. It’s also possible that Sanger’s 15 years as a teacher could unite some of the SPEAK crowd behind her against a more visibly pro-Chamber opponent like banker John Fugate, despite that group’s lack of love for Kincannon.

However, one opponent—who isn’t running for the interim seat—already has the support of some SPEAK members, and many others as well. Jamie Rowe, a Fountain City resident and longtime community activist, appointed a campaign treasurer on July 22 and announced her candidacy on Facebook last week.

Jamie Rowe FB

Rowe apparently only just joined Facebook last month, but among her 39 friends are several SPEAK regulars, including Sally Absher, the 4th District candidate who lost to Lynne Fugate earlier this year; state Rep. (and KCS teacher) Gloria Johnson;  and Lauren Hopson, the Halls Elementary teacher who first started the speaking out at Board meetings last fall. According to the News Sentinel, Rowe has already lined up a host committee of 250 people. (Which, if true, would be the largest host committee we think we’ve seen in this town.) She doesn’t have a campaign website up, however, so we can’t yet verify this.

According to Knox County election administrator Cliff Rodgers, Sanger and Rowe are the only two candidates that have appointed treasurers to date. He says once Commission officially accepts Kincannon’s resignation (likely at the Aug. 25 meeting when the body will appoint her interim replacement), candidates will then be able to pick up qualifying petitions for November. They’ll be due back in Rodgers’ office by noon on Sept. 10.

In any case, after last week’s crazy and explosive Board meeting, we’re expecting the fight for the 2nd District seat to be a bloodbath. (Oh, and we’ll have more about that meeting soon—elections took up all our time last week.) We might be wrong—we hope we’re wrong—but at this point the opposing sides in the teacher revolt seem farther apart than ever.