Q&A with Williamson County School Board Candidates in District 10 Race

Franklin’s District 10, covering part of downtown and part of the north end of the city, is proving to be one of the most competitive of the Williamson County School Board’s five races this year, as well as one most tense.

New this election season: Williamson’s local political parties have opted to allow candidates to choose their political affiliations or identify as independents.

Williamson County election newcomer and high school mom Jennifer Haile is running as a Democrat, making the district one of only two to include a Democratic candidate for the school board. She is also the only black woman and one of two black candidates to run for the board.

Jennifer Haile is running as a Democrat in the Williamson County Schools District 10 school board race.

Also on the ballot: Eric Welch, homeowner and parent of Williamson County Schools graduates, and newcomer William “Doc” Holladay, musician, optometrist and parent of a recently retired Williamson County Schools student .

Welch won the May primaries against former candidate Ali Wallace Adair by 38 votes. Holladay chose to run as an independent, while personally identifying as a Republican.

The two have spoken out against each other on social media accounts, digging into past board decisions, missteps and misdemeanors, and even a recent diagnosis of COVID-19.

The dispute between them and the make-up of the race drew attention to District 10. So, we asked the three candidates ahead of the county’s August 4 general election about the takeaways so far, the qualifications for the post, how they should use their platforms and Suite.

William "Doctor" Holladay is running as an independent in the 2022 Williamson County School Board primary. The primaries are scheduled for May 3.

To learn more about the candidates, their campaign goals and recommendations, scroll to the bottom of this story for where to find information. But first, here’s a Q&A with the contestants:

Williamson County School Board candidate Eric Welch stands at the Franklin Recreation Center, where he greeted voters at the polls on August 2, 2018.

1. Mr. Welch, as a starter, what do you bring to the table?

Welch: I think it’s experienced leadership and proven results.

I understand how the neighborhood works, where to go, what questions to ask and what information to find. I have connections both within the school system and central office. I’ve proven that I care and I’m willing to work hard on the things that really matter but might not make the headlines.

It’s nice to have that voice of experience so that when you bring new members to the board you can say here’s why we did some of these things, here’s where we succeeded or failed, and all the challenges that come with it.

2. Ms. Haile and Mr. Holladay, as new candidates and newcomers to elections, what do you bring to the table?

Hi : I think I offer a fresh look, diversity and a listening ear.

What I bring to the table is something new, a new way of looking at things and a way that hasn’t been influenced by living here for so long or knowing certain people or having a some past here.

Second, I am a third generation educator. So I understand some of the issues that teachers face, that their job involves not just work, but also bureaucracy and a lot of things that they have to keep up with. It’s not just about standing in front of the class and teaching.

Third, the Williamson County School Board has no diversity. The world has changed since I was a little girl and the school board needs to reflect what the community looks like. I’ve had experiences that give me perspective on things that other people just might not have because I’ve lived in my body for nearly 50 years.

I work very hard and know that I am ready to learn as well as to serve. I definitely don’t know everything and I wouldn’t approach it like that. I understand my job is to listen to (the constituents), the community, the students, the teachers, and really see what their concerns are because that’s really what you’re here for.

Holiday : I am not part of the political establishment. And I’m just coming from the perspective of a parent who has observed and watched some of the things that are happening in our public education system, and I felt motivated to introduce myself.

What is going to have an impact (my vote) is that I want to represent the people who elect me and I want to be the best that I can according to the values ​​that I represent to preserve those values.

Sometimes a clean slate is a good thing. If you look at the incumbent, Mr. Welch has been there for 12 years and we’ve had some issues. So if you just want more of the same, then that’s what you’re going to get. But if you want fresh blood, fresh ideas, a fresh perspective, and someone who isn’t here for power and is only here to make a difference, then I’m your man.

3. What has been the impact of partisanship on your race so far?

Hi : I’m a very proud Democrat, but I don’t know whether partisan politics should be in school board elections or not. I think at the end of the day, we all want the best for our children. We want to make sure they all feel included and are all ready to be in the world.

Unfortunately, when we have partisan politics when it comes to the school board, I think people are less likely to listen to what the candidate is saying and more likely to just see the “R”, the “D” or the ” I” next to their names, and that’s a shame because in something like that, I’m not sure we have room for that.

Holiday : It was a great idea in theory and I think parents should have the right to know who they are electing and what their values ​​are…I’m all for as long as the candidates accurately represent who they are.

I think it’s really tragic that (Welch) is allowed to run as a Republican because he was endorsed by the Democratic Party in 2014. He’s endorsed by Williamson Strong, who is the far left PAC .

I think a lot of people who just go and vote for a straight party, like voting for a straight Republican, won’t get what they (want). If they want a real conservative, they’ll have to do it differently this time.

I think there are a lot of Democrats in other districts who are running as independents because they don’t want to run as a Democrat in a very conservative county.

(Editor’s note: Williamson Strong identified itself as a nonpartisan political action committee. The parent group supported Democratic, Republican, and independent candidates in this year’s election.)

Welch: I think the impact has been that some candidates have diverted attention from the educational needs of students inside the buildings and towards the political desires of adults outside the school building.

4. Mr. Welch and Mr. Holladay, why did you feel compelled to denounce your conservative opponent?

Holiday : A lot of the stuff that has been back and forth is just political slander.

The reason we have to go a little louder is because (Welch) is running as a Republican, when he’s not. And that makes it harder, as an independent, to reach voters who want a conservative but may not be watching the candidates closely enough.

Welch: I’ve never had anyone come up against me who was as deceitful and deceitful as he was. (Someone) who is deliberately trying to disparage his record and the statements he has made about himself, as well as (someone) who just blatantly attacked and tried to tear down the school district where my children went and which I am very proud to represent.

Every other one I’ve raced against in the past just had a much better character than honestly Holiday.

5. What inspired you to run for the school board and why do you want to represent Williamson County?

Hi : I have a 16 year old boy who is going to be a sophomore in a public high school here. There are some things I saw that could be a little better when it came to students like her. (Williamson County Schools) is a wonderful school system. But with anything, you can always seek to improve. You can always search for development.

I thought it was one thing to talk about it, but it’s another thing to show off, especially when there’s something to do with our kids. I think if you see things that you think could be a little better, it’s your responsibility as a population conscious person to at least get people thinking and talking even if you don’t win .

Holiday : We have always had an extremely desirable school district. It’s one of the big draws for people looking to move to Williamson County, and I think the strong history that we have, and even now…. There’s something to be proud of. But what worries me is the path we are on.

There are obviously issues because there are so many teachers leaving, you know, parents all in an uproar about the COVID curriculum and policies and so on. If we don’t get this under control we won’t stay on top and that’s what concerns me the most and I want to make sure we get back to basics and get back to what made us the premier school district of the state and one of the best in the country.

Welch: (The race) is sort of between two factions. Those who worked and will work to make Williamson County Schools the best school system in Tennessee and the other faction are the ones who want to take a wrecking ball there because it doesn’t fit their presumptions or their worldview which is not based on any experience. , commitment or facts. I’m on the build faction and (Holladay) is on the tear down faction and voters are going to have to decide what they really want.

I care deeply about the school system. I want to see him succeed and I think I still have a lot to give him. Frankly, I want to keep out people who would destroy the extremely efficient system we have put in place over the years.

To learn more about Democratic candidate Jennifer Haile, visit her website at https://haileforschoolboard.mailchimpsites.com/ or visit his Facebook page.

To learn more about Republican candidate Eric Welch, find him on Facebook or Twitter.

To learn more about independent candidate Doc Holladay, visit www.docholladayforschoolboard.com or find him on Facebook.

Anika Exum is a reporter covering Williamson County at The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY – Tennessee Network. Contact her at [email protected], 615-347-7313 or on Twitter @aniexum.

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