published Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Three vie for District 6 seat on Hamilton school board

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the August general election.

A former educator, a parent and a businessman are vying for the District 6 seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education.

Incumbent Joe Galloway, who has held the position for four years, will face challengers Oscar Brock and Ballard Scearce in the nonpartisan Aug. 7 election.

Galloway describes himself as a lifelong educator, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal and athletic director at Lookout Valley High School for 39 years -- experience he's leaning on in the campaign.

"I don't believe either one of the other candidates have had any experience working in education. I think I have more experience in the area of education," Galloway said. "Having coached and taught so long, I have a real passion for helping children."

"If folks are pleased with the job I've done I hope they'll re-elect me," Galloway said, adding that he's always available for public input. "My phone number is in the phone book and I always return calls and I answer emails."

Brock, who received a bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University and a master's in business administration from Vanderbilt University, said his background gives him an informed perspective when working with the multimillion-dollar budget the school board controls.

He also says he hopes to influence the community to pay more attention to the actions of the school board.

"I hope to raise the profile of the school board race," Brock said. "[The school board is] the single-biggest expenditure authority in the county -- roughly $400 million."

If elected, Brock says, he wants to give each Hamilton County student an equal chance at success.

"We need to provide children with equality of opportunity. They have to have their fighting chance, and right now in too many schools we're not giving them a fighting chance," he said. "I love this community, I'm very passionate about it. I think we need to do right by our children and by our taxpayers. By doing right we help everybody."

As a parent of three Hamilton County public school students, Scearce says he is the standout candidate for the job.

"I'm the only candidate who has children who are currently in the school system in Hamilton County," he said. "My contemporaries are also in the same boat. I talk to these folks ... about issues. You just run in those circles and I think that uniquely qualifies me."

As owner of Scearce Law Firm PC, he adds that he can bring a unique perspective to the board when it comes to actions such as negotiating contracts. He's had trouble communicating with the board in the past, he said, and wants to create better engagement.

"I am uniquely invested and want to be as engaged as I possibly can for the benefit of my kids," he said.

As of April, Galloway had no campaign funds on hand, according to campaign financial disclosures. Neither Brock nor Scearce has filed a disclosure, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Contact staff writer Kelsie Bowman at kbowman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6423.

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