Wilson County and Lebanon School Board Candidate Profiles
Voters will decide the extent of changes to school boards in Wilson County and the Lebanon Special School District, beginning with the May 3 primary.
Early voting for the primary is scheduled for April 13-28.
Nine candidates are running for four seats on the Wilson County School Board. There will be at least one new board member as Linda Armistead did not seek re-election for Zone 4.
The primary has two contested school board races for the primary, both on the Republican side.
Three Republicans are vying for the Wilson County Zone 4 nomination for the right to face an independent candidate in August.
Two Republicans are seeking nomination for a seat in Lebanon’s Special School District and are advancing through August against the sole Democratic nominee in the election.
A look at the candidates for the school board:
Wilson County Schools
Beth Meyers, 59: Moved to Wilson County in 2019 from Louisiana with 31 years of education experience, 20 of them in the classroom.
Meyers also has experience as a private school superintendent and two years on its board.
Meyers worries that “scripted curricula” are being forced on teachers and other policies and initiatives that Tennessee is adopting, Meyers says, have not worked in Louisiana.
“The main thing is the student,” Meyers said. “Are students getting the best programs possible with the money taxpayers give them? And if not, we must be prepared to recognize and adapt to make things better.
Meyers is uncontested in the primary and will face an independent candidate in August.
Melissa Walker Lynn, 57: Will be unopposed in the primary and departmental elections.
Lynn was appointed in October to the seat to fill the term vacated by Jon White who resigned.
Lynn retired in 2020 after 34 years of teaching in Wilson County. Lynn is also a 1982 graduate of Mt. Juliet High.
“I know what’s going on in classrooms and what’s going on in schools, good and bad,” Lynn said.
The retention and compensation of teachers and the ability for educators to make “professional decisions” and use supplemental materials within prescribed standards to “keep Wilson County students at the high level at which we are,” are points of attention for Lynn.
Preston George, 23: the A 2017 graduate of Wilson Central High and a 2021 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, he is currently working on his master’s degree. George works for Kroger as a General Office Floor Planning Analyst.
George believes recent experience as a student who understands virtual learning can give the board needed perspective on a new landscape for public education.
Anti-bullying and professional and technical education are two points of attention for George who wants to bring a “proactive vision for our students and our teachers”,
Maurisa Pasick, 39 years old: The parent of a West Wilson Middle student wants to increase parental involvement and choice in school decision-making.
“I believe we’ve moved away from local government and closer to federal government,” Pasick said. “I believe that the parents’ point of view is very important.”
Pasick also raced in 2018.
Joseph Padilla, 42 years old: The 20-year Marine Corps veteran is critical of federal and state government initiatives such as No Child Left Behind, Critical Race Theory and Social Emotional Learning.
Padilla campaigns on local decision-making.
“My priority is to present the educational issues that the citizens of Zone 4 want (to) the principal of schools and other members of the school board,” Padilla said. “Yes, I have opinions on critical race theory and social-emotional learning, but as a representative it will be my duty to listen to the people of zone 4 and advocate for their voices be heard.”
Kimberly McGee, 51: McGee, seeking re-election to a second term, is unopposed in the primary.
“I learned a lot as a board member,” McGee said. “There is a learning curve and I want to use the knowledge I have gained to continue helping our students over the next four years. Wilson County is on a new path. We have a new superintendent with new new ideas on how to retain and attract staff, including salary increases for all WCS employees.”
Capital projects related to the growth and reconstruction of Stoner Creek Elementary and West Wilson Middle are among other priorities McGee is considering for the upcoming term.
Independent candidates (not on the ballot before August 4)
Bill Robinson, 74 (75 on April 8): The former teacher and coach for 32 years at Watertown High School was elected to three terms and served nearly 12 years on the school board.
Robinson also spent five years at the former Lebanon Junior High and is 37 as a teacher in the coach.
“I feel like the quality of our facilities has improved, our academic performance has improved and I feel good about what’s happened over the past 12 years and I want to continue to help go forward,” Robinson said. “It’s still important to me.”
Dorothy Critchlow, 70: Retired two years ago after more than 30 years in education, 20 of them in public schools in Metro Nashville.
Critchlow served as community superintendent in Nashville and oversaw schools in the southwest quadrant of Davidson County, all pre-kindergarten, alternative and special education day schools. Critchlow is also a former principal of Hickman Elementary.
Retention and “teacher satisfaction” are priorities for Critchlow.
“(When teachers) are happy, they’ll stay,” Critchlow said.
Critchlow also wants the local school board to retain control over decisions about schools and educational services in these community service areas.
Dalton Teel, 24: A former Carroll-Oakland student and 2015 Lebanon graduate now teaches at Byars Dowdy Elementary in the Lebanon Special School District.
“The people who know best what’s going on in our schools right now are our teachers,” Teel said.
Seeking teacher input and opinion is a priority for Teel, who wants to foster an environment that allows teachers to stay in the field and encourages students to stay in the profession.
Equitable access for all students and strategic growth management will also be priorities for Teel.
Lebanon Special School District
Krista Stephens, 39: Stephens is a parent of students at Walter J. Baird Middle in the Lebanon Special School District and Lebanon High in Wilson County Schools.
“Having watched the board for the past few years, I think it’s time we had a parent on the LSSD board,” Stephens said. “As a conservative Republican woman and parent of a district student, I can bring a fresh perspective to the council that is currently absent.”
Stephens works as a real estate agent, was part of the Coles Ferry Elementary PTO, and now volunteers with Walter J. Baird’s Moms.
Marc Tomlinson, 62: The incumbent has served on the board since September 2006. Has had children in the district, now has four grandchildren in the school system, a daughter who teaches at Sam Houston Elementary, and a nephew who is vice-principal at Byars Dowdy.
“Preparing for growth due to the number of people moving into our community is a major concern,” said Tomlinson. “I am also very concerned about the immeasurable gaps in educational and social learning that have been created due to COVID.”
Tomlinson also wants to help create an environment where parents can be active in their child’s education.
Belita McMurry Fite, 57: The bishop and pastor of Heaven’s View Baptist Church of Lebanon is the only Democrat to have filed for local office in the primary in Wilson County.
McMurry-Fite had children in the Lebanon Special School District, including one now. McMurry-Fite also has children connected with the district church.
“We want to make sure kids and teachers get the most out of everything,” McMurry-Fite said. “The best teachers, the best teacher support, the best textbooks, technology and I believe in equality for all… We want to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.”
McMurry-Fite is undisputed in the primary and will face the Republican winner in August.
Early Voting Sites
Early voting for the May 3 primary is scheduled for April 13-28. Wilson County will use four locations, Lighthouse Church is no longer used as a voting site. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The locations are:
- Wilson County Electoral Commission, 230 E. Gay Street, Lebanon
- Mt. Juliet Community Center, 1075 Charlie Daniels Drive
- Gladeville Community Center, 95 McCrary Road
- Watertown Community Center, 8630 Sparta Pike
Contact Andy Humbles at [email protected] or 615-726-5939 and on Twitter @AndyHumbles.