The seven picks (map is here):
District 1: Christopher Caldwell, Morgan Keegan vice president. District 2: Teresa Jones, prosecutor for City of Memphis. District 3: Raphael McInnis, Medtronic regulatory affairs specialist. District 4: Vanecia Kimbrow, attorney. District 5: Kevin Woods, New Horizons information technology. District 6: Reginald Porter Jr., FedEx process advisor. District 7: Billy Orgel, Tower Ventures CEO
As anticipated here before the vote, the commission split for five men and two women. There were five black appointees and two white appointees (NOTE: Fixed from earlier version with incorrect numbers); four Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent. There is a successful CEO, a FedEx projects manager, Medtronic regulatory affairs specialist, independent attorney, city prosecutor, financial advisor and information technology specialist. In all, four have children in public schools and another has children in private schools.
In terms of geography -- two in Midtown, two in East Memphis very near the Germantown border and one each in Bartlett, Collierville and Whitehaven.
Throughout the next two days, I will be going through the winners of each district and including details about them and how the votes played out getting them the appointments.
On Oct. 1, the seven appointed by the commission will officially become part of a 23-member unified board which also includes the current nine Memphis City Schools board members and current seven Shelby County Schools board members. That board will have ultimate authority and responsibility for adopting transition plans that the state has charged a 21-person transition commission with creating. The board also will oversee the continued administration and operation of MCS and the suburban SCS.
District 1: Chris Caldwell
Morgan Keegan vice president and financial advisor
Many commissioners agreed that this district, which essentially covers the central city (Mississipi River east to Mendenhall, North Parkway/Summer south to South Parkway) was an embarrassment of riches. Staunch support for several candidates -- investment bank CEO Duncan Williams, pastor Noel Hutchinson, Urban Child Institute director Katy Spurlock, pastor and county commission baliff Sammie Jones -- brought a deadlock after nine rounds of voting and caused the Commission to push District 1 back to the end of the agenda.
It is no exaggeration to say Caldwell has been one of the most involved public school parents in the region. He's served on various parent organizing groups, and even has been active in intentionally recruiting those Midtown parents who traditionally choose not to send their children to Memphis City Schools. Caldwell, a Memphis native who identifies politically as an Independent, actually did not make the original list of four finalists but got back in the running when he was nominated by Memphis Republican commissioner Heidi Shafer.
But during the first nine rounds of voting, Caldwell was essentially an also-ran, and the votes were lining up for Spurlock (she got to six votes at one point, just one shy of the seven needed) and Hutchinson. However, Republican commissioner Wyatt Bunker, himself a former Shelby County Schools board member, missed that round of voting while seeing a doctor for excruciating back pain. His return proved pivotal for Caldwell, with the six Republicans eventually uniting behind him and Mulroy breaking from the six black Democrats who were supporting Hutchinson.
Caldwell admitted his public speaking style isn't graceful, but promised: "Y'all don't know how determined I am to make this work."
District 2: Teresa Jones
Chief prosecutor for the City of Memphis
Longtime commissioner Walter Bailey gave his highest recommendation to Jones, pointing out that she has the trust of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and is well respected in the legal community for her work.
On her questionnaire, Jones listed as her skill sets "patience, fairness, reasonable, listening and mediation skills" and said she was ready to get to the hard work of merging schools. She grew up in Marshall County (Miss.) and attended public schools there (Byhalia High School), and is a graduate of Lane College and University of Memphis's law school. According to the Memphis website, "From 1988-2003 she was an assistant public defender and criminal court supervisor with the Shelby County Public Defender Office where she represented indigent defendants exclusively in the area of criminal law."
Jones won in the third round of voting, with finalists Sherman Greer (Southwest Tennessee Community College administrator and former longtime congressional aide) and Tyree Daniels (investment banker) gaining support of Republicans who sensed Jones was somewhat of a city establishment choice but they were unable to sustain support from enough Democrats.