Blount County Residents Make Amends [Op-Ed]

Image Credit: Blount County Conservative Sentinel / Facebook

By Beth Tucker [Special to The Tennessee Conservative] –

Parents and community members quickly realized we had been apathetic in protecting the interests of our students and community in and around the spring of 2021. Small groups were forming, and those seeking truth and community found affirmation among them.

The Blount County Conservative Coalition, led by Mark and Loree Pulliam, facilitated a space for conservative guest speakers to reach citizens without the political barriers we often see. Mark’s abstracts can be found on his Blount County Conservative Sentinel social media page.

I, Beth Tucker, began dialog and encouraged action among the community via Reform Blount.  Conversations concentrated on irresponsible growth, local resolutions and decisions made by County Commissioners, bills introduced to the Tennessee House of Representatives, and highlighted the actions taken by Blount County Schools’ board members and staff. Identifying strong, patriotic representatives and candidates became paramount at that time.

Dr. Michelle Hooper had been attentive while attending local Board of Education meetings. She came from Oregon, where she observed the destruction and degradation that came from poorly selected curriculum and the implementation of harmful ideologies.  Michelle quickly began connecting with interested parents, hearing their concerns and providing clear explanations to complex inquiries.

Cheryl Wall and Jennifer Clemmer were on their own journey. They saw the warning signs and wanted to take action. They began by traveling to The Tennessee Freedom Summit, where they met the Pulliams and Michelle Hooper. A short meet and greet with myself followed and Smoky Mountain PIE was born.

Potential candidates for Blount County Commissioner were expressing their intentions to run by participating in and reaching out to these grassroots stewards. Kevin McNeill, Ken Lee, Thomas Antkow, Steven Phipps, Beth Raffel Myers-Rees, and Tim Dabney gave their best effort to serve the citizens of Blount County but were unsuccessful in their attempt. We have no less appreciation for their time and energy.

Jessica Hannah overcame her controversial opponent and incumbent, Jackie Hill, for County Commission in District 1 with a small difference of a handful of votes. Misty Davis will also join the Blount County Commission as the new representative for District 6.  Bryan Richey unseated Bob Ramsey after exposing Bob’s poor voting record in the House and promising to truly represent the voters of his district. 

Blount County Board of Education members seemed to operate with the least amount of consideration for those who reside in their districts, with a few exceptions. Parents quickly identified members who were attentive to their concerns and others whose sensibilities were insulted by the community’s “audacity” to reject the mainstream narratives being forced upon students through the failed Wit & Wisdom curriculum.

Parent concerns were validated when District 2 school board representative, Vandy Kemp, took to social media following Cheryl Wall’s presentation on Wit & Wisdom curriculum concerns. Mrs. Kemp inadvertently amassed parents when she suggested, “It would help the case if you could include your Black friends (and other non white folks) in presenting your group’s views. That would help us understand the objective more clearly I think.”

Smoky Mountain PIE got to work. Parents and grandparents joined our efforts. We made it a priority to replace any and all passive actors responsible for representing our children. Our efforts proved to be fruitful thanks to our Smoky Mountain PIE Chair, Jennifer Clemmer; Co-Chair Cheryl Wall; and all active members, David Coleman, Shirley Rupert, Ken Lee, and Kevin McNeill. Each has been extremely instrumental in the success of SMPIE by keeping our community informed of meeting times, locations, evaluations, data, record requests, communication with the central office, and board members.

However, the greatest achievements came from the school board candidates themselves. Four seats were up for re-election. Three seats needed new faces, and three seats were flipped. Erica Moore, Joe Lindsay, and Brian King will begin their service next month in their corresponding districts. We appreciated the priorities Erica Moore and Joe Lindsay expressed to voters. We are confident they will represent the children and parents of Blount County well.

Blount County residents were passive and guilty of believing we were beyond the reach of the neo-liberal agenda and propaganda. We didn’t make time to exercise our civic duty. Some of us didn’t comprehend the consequences of our quiescence.  We are making amends for our naiveté at the polls and will continue to in 2024. 

4 thoughts on “Blount County Residents Make Amends [Op-Ed]

  • August 12, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Congratulations and good luck.

  • August 12, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Wonderful statement!!

  • August 13, 2022 at 11:59 pm

    GOOD! NEED many more to follow suite.


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