Only two local groups have endorsed candidates in the Williamson County School Board elections (so far) – WillCo Rising PAC, run by Brentwood WCS dad Roger Abramson, and the Williamson Business PAC, run by local business leaders.
Updated 7/20/16 (Click to enlarge)
Q2 finance reports will be out later today, and we will know more about each candidate by understanding their funding thus far. We will update you when we have more information. If we hear of additional endorsements, we will report on those we well.*
In 2014, the 912 TN Project President J. Lee Douglas made his endorsements on the group’s web page (which also has a button to click to “Chip in”); the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition endorsed and passed out printed voter cards, and W-PACE, the PAC associated with the Williamson County Education Association (the teachers’ association), sent out an email with their endorsements.
The Williamson County Homeschool Coalition (WCHC) has made its endorsements for the 2016 Williamson County School Board elections. Though leadership and membership of the WCHC are not clear, their closed Facebook page is currently administered by activist Julie West. Ms. West has worked closely with Susan Curlee over the past two years, including in her efforts to remove Dr. Looney from his office.
In 2014, the WCHC (which was then administered by homeschool activist Beth Lehman as well as West) endorsed Susan Curlee, Victoria Jackson, Beth Burgos, Candy Emerson, and Dan Cash, among others.
This year, they have endorsed the opposite candidates in every case from those endorsed by the Williamson Business PAC and WillCo Rising PAC.
The WCHC is not a registered PAC.
J. Lee Douglas, 912 TN President, has published his endorsements for the 2016 Williamson County School Board elections.
Recall that 912 played a major role recruiting, coordinating, and supporting candidates in 2014. 912 TN President J. Lee Douglas, who later did a petition for the removal of Dr. Looney, saw the election of 2014 as an opportunity to “take” the school board. 912 had been diligently vetting and supporting school board and county commission candidates for several election cycles. Every single one of the winning challengers was endorsed by the 912 TN President, and five out of six (Dan Cash is the exception) were members of 912. 912 and their allies’ (including the Republican Women of Williamson County or RWWC) efforts were very successful in 2014.
“If we take the Board this time, we’ll know that our work has been worth it.” – J. Lee Douglas
Douglas indicated in a December 2015 Tennessean article that he planned to be involved with expanding the number and strength of 912’s representation on the WCSB. He had already endorsed Joey Czarneski, who is running against incumbent Anne McGraw in District 4.
“I think you haven’t seen anything yet. Seeing what took place last election, those people that opposed my viewpoints — they’re going to be out.” – J. Lee Douglas
This year, 912 TN has endorsed the opposite candidates in every case from those endorsed by the Williamson Business PAC and WillCo Rising PAC. Again, 912 TN’s endorsements completely mirror the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition’s endorsements.
912 TN is not a registered PAC.
The party officers of the local GOP have made their school board endorsements. They have endorsed D1 Richard Davis, D3 Kim Little, D4 Joey Czarneski, and D11 Stuart Cooper.
While school board elections are nonpartisan, the local party officers and executive director Jean Barwick were also heavily involved in the 2014 school board elections, including offering office space and staff support to Susan Curlee, Beth Burgos, Dan Cash, and Candy Emerson. WCRP Executive Director Jean Barwick also hosted campaign parties for Burgos, Curlee and Emerson in 2014.
The current slate of party officials was elected by party activists in February 2015 and represented a victory by the 912 Project/Tea Party wing of the party. Chairwoman Julie Taleghani (now Julie Hannah) was the 912-endorsed candidate for that position.
“I believe that Julie Taleghani is the best person… Both of these say that Julie will be like Kevin Kookogey—too conservative which is another way of saying too principled. Julie has my support.” – J. Lee Douglas, 912 TN President, February 2015
Leadership of the WCRP also met with Speaker Harwell in support of Rep. Jeremy Durham in April. According to an email shared on social media, the female leaders of the WCRP (and others including Candy Emerson) demanded that Speaker Harwell move Durham’s office back into Legislative Plaza. Harwell had removed Durham following an interim report from the Attorney General’s office which said that Mr. Durham’s alleged behavior represented a threat to “unsuspecting women.”
“We wanted her to know we represented a large constituency, not just a few individuals who are really angry she moved Jeremy to the basement in the building across the street and has limited his access to the plaza.”
WCRP officials have endorsed four of the seven candidates endorsed by 912 TN and the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition. None of the four was endorsed by the Williamson Business PAC or WillCo Rising PAC. Again, 912 TN’s endorsements completely mirror the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition’s endorsements.
* A note on our reporting: We plan to post the endorsements of active PACs (and other groups) in the county. We will note information that seems relevant, including but not limited to the type of group, their past and current involvement in school board and other politics, and the decision-makers of the group.
You may recall that the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance fined Williamson Strong for posting the 2014 endorsements of W-PACE, the PAC affiliated with the local teachers’ association. They considered that reporting on our Facebook page to be an endorsement (and thus a financial contribution) by Williamson Strong. We also reported on the endorsements made by the 912 organization. The Registry position on this is blatantly ridiculous—not to mention unconstitutional—and we are simply going to follow the law as they have applied it to every other group. There are a great number of news outlets (including every major print publication in the state) and blogs that report on endorsements by other groups; however, we found zero incidents (other than our case) in which the Registry concluded that noting whom another group endorsed is in itself an endorsement and therefore a contribution.
For more information about each district’s candidates, visit our Updated 2016 WCSB Election Roundup.