Friday, April 11, 2008

3 candidates quit race for Metro school board

Incumbent Thompson cites career needs By JAIME SARRIO • Staff Writer (tennessean) • April 11, 2008 A veteran incumbent and two other candidates dropped out of the Metro Nashville school board race Thursday. Board member George Thompson, who represents District 1, would have faced Sharon Gentry, a health-care executive and wife of former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, and other opponents. District 9 candidates Sonny Farmer and former Metro Councilman John Summers also withdrew Thursday. Thompson, initially elected in 1996, cited "personal and professional reasons" for pulling out of the Aug. 7 election. He represents the Bordeaux and North Nashville area. "We're in a new environment, and personally I see the load of the board members getting heavier," he said. "I feel I am up to the challenge, but it's become more and more time, and I need to focus on my law practice." The election comes at a pivotal time for the 75,000-student school district. The new board will have to pick a new director of schools, and the district is in poor standing and faces sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind education law. Open mind praised Longtime educator and Nashville School of the Arts Principal Bob Wilson knew Thompson as a board member and a parent. Thompson's daughter was an accomplished dancer at NSA. Wilson said the representative was always approachable and willing to listen, and he hopes future leaders approach the job with an open mind and a willingness to try new things. "I'd like to see someone who comes in with ideas that are not too traditional, because a lot of the traditional stuff isn't working," Wilson said. Barry Barlow and William D. Mason Jr. also are running in Thompson's district. Summers said he decided not to run in District 9 because he did not want to take time away from his wife and 5-year-old child.

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