District 4: Vanecia Kimbrow
This was the most contentious district, and Wyatt Bunker's absence probably helped attorney and Collierville resident Vanecia Kimbrow gain the nod over an impressive field of applicants, including Ken Hoover, the active Shelby County Schools parent and Germantown resident who last year nearly pulled of what would have been a stunning defeat of long-reigning SCS chairman David Pickler.
Kimbrow, a graduate of the University of Memphis's law school, was encouraged by Stand For Children to put herself forward at the last minute. She said she has been active in the schools her children attend -- currently Houston High School and Sycamore Elementary School -- and Stand cited her past involvement in child-advocacy issues as a strength. Kimbrow wrote:
"Being adopted and raised by my grandmother who was a domestic worker with a third-grade education, I am a living witness that there is nothing more important to a child than a quality education and the presence of those in their lives that will mentor, support, and encourage them to achieve and excel. I am a passionate advocate for children and each child's right to receive a quality education and will always base my opinions on what is in the best interest of all the children."
Kimbrow indicated she has worked in difficult negotiating environments and helped with complicated mergers. In terms of voting, Hoover got reliable support from four of the five Republicans present, but Kimbrow got five votes in the first round and made it to seven in the third round after Mike Carpenter switched from Collierville's Todd Martin (an executive at Syngenta) to Kimbrow and Memphis commissioners Justin Ford and Henri Brooks moved from former MCS administrator Sonya Smith to Kimbrow.
Hoover's primary focus was on giving the board a proponent of somehow chopping the 150,000-student district into smaller pieces, though he had promised, if appointed, to resign from all activities in support of municipal school districts. Brooks did not mention Hoover specifically when she warned of putting a "Trojan horse" on the board, but Hoover, despite campaigning last year in part on building trust and cooperation with Memphis, could only get two Memphis commissioners to support him. Carpenter had supported him in the race against Pickler but could not be moved on Monday.
Kimbrow wrote on her questionnaire that she is opposed to municipal school districts at this point because "it seemingly undermines the spirit and intent of the court order before any good faith attempt to first comply has been made." That earned her the ire of the suburban commissioners and predictions that she will be defeated in the August 2012 elections.