Editor’s note: This Q&A is one in a series that aims to allow voters to get to know candidates who are running in the Aug. 2 primary. Nooga.com sent questionnaires to candidates on the ballot. We will post responses as we get them.
Lifelong District 8 resident and product of Hamilton County schools Tucker McClendon is seeking the District 8 school board seat.
The 23-year-old was born in Cleveland, Tennessee, but grew up in District 8.
He currently works for Public Markets Inc. a local nonprofit that runs the Chattanooga Market and numerous other markets around the area.
His opponent is David Testerman in the uncontested race.
Early voting runs through July 28 for the Aug. 2 primary.
If elected, what are your top priorities as a school board member?
My top priorities as a school board would be to restore trust between the board and the public, to ensure every student gets the education they deserve and lay out a detailed strategic plan for the school system all while ensuring we as a board are being as transparent and accountable as possible.
There has been a lot of discussion about equity in schools, do you think it’s an issue? Why or why not? What do you want to see happen to address it?
I do think it is an issue and something that needs to be talked about, but those discussions need to take place outside of our polarized political world.
We need to have real conversations with our community members, business leaders, and students to come up with real and fiscally responsible solutions.
What specific improvements or changes would you push for if elected?
The improvements for my district I would focus on would be a school board that was transparent and accountable.
I would start by establishing a District 8 advisory council of community members, parents, students and teachers and to start holding a community meeting at least twice a semester.
This combined with having a robust social media presence will allow for easy information flow. I would also make it a priority that we have an SRO in every school. One of my first request of the school board would be to lay out a detailed strategic plan for the next 3, 5 and 10 years which allow the district to be forward thinking and to stop playing the catch-up game that the school is always playing.
How do you believe a leader should handle people they don’t get along or agree with?
I think they should handle them with the same respect as they would give someone they get along with or agree with.
Why should residents vote for you and not one of your opponents?
I think the people of District 8 are ready for a school board member that is accountable and transparent and I believe that is something that District 8 is not getting currently. We as a district currently do not have community town hall meetings or any kind of social media presence which doesn’t allow for the flow of information to teachers, parents and students.
We are also currently at a crossroads with education in Hamilton County I believe and we can either do what we have done for the last 20 or 25 years or we can do to education what we have done with the Riverfront, the Gig internet, Volkswagen in being innovative and thinking outside the box. I believe I bring the latter to the board.
What is your personal motivation for running for this office and wanting to lead?
I want to be able to send my future kids to a public education system that I’m proud of and that will prepare them for whatever postsecondary course they want to take and this is my way of trying to make that happen.