Mike Harvey's name won't be on the ballot on Aug. 2, but the candidate for the Hamilton County School Board District 2 seat is waging a serious write-in campaign against Jonathan Welch, a Signal Mountain dentist.
Harvey, a 58-year-old instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's School of Anesthesia, decided to challenge Welch as a write-in candidate after he realized Welch was running unopposed. Since then, Harvey has made phone calls, taken out ads in local newspapers and placed two billboards to promote his candidacy, each including the key words "write-in."
Harvey estimated he'd spent around $6,000 on his campaign so far, and he said he thought he could win.
"Of course, we knew when we thought about this that it would be an uphill climb," Harvey said. "However, in this case, it being a district race, we could do a good job communicating with voters, and so far that's held true."
Both Harvey and Welch are lifelong residents of the area. Welch, 34, graduated from UTC and got a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Tennessee before returning to run his business on Signal Mountain; Harvey graduated from what is now the UTC nurse anesthesia program he teaches at.
Harvey said he thought age and experience were the biggest distinguishers between him and Welch.
"I have quite a bit of board experience," Harvey said. "In 1992, I was appointed by the governor to the state board for nursing for four years, and I've also served on the state anesthetist's association. I've got more experience doing this kind of thing than Jonathan does."
Welch said he had also served on various boards, including the Founders Fund, the Mountain Education Fund and the Chattanooga Area Dental Society.
Harvey has said that if elected, he would work to get District 2 schools "back on track" and specifically mentioned recent incidents at Signal Mountain Middle-High School regarding students and teachers violating conduct policies.Â
"We've had several instances over the last four years," Harvey said. "It seems like every time you turn around, there's some problem. We have got to do better."