As election day nears, the Home Page has continued to try and connect with several political candidates.
After several attempts we recently spoke with Williamson County Schools District 10 school board candidate William “Doc” Holladay, who said that he’s moved on from his challenging past and is now aiming to “restore honest, patriotic education” in Williamson County.
That challenging past includes addiction and a criminal history that he has spoken about publicly before.
And while the American Medical Association classifies addiction or substance use disorder as a disease, and addicts are undoubtedly victims of their addiction, it’s in the public’s interest to know the background of their political candidates.
According to Williamson County Criminal Court records, in 2007, Holladay was indicted on nine counts of prescription drug fraud and four counts of forgery.
Investigative documents from the 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force obtained by the Home Page show that Holladay was under investigation for forging names and DEA registration numbers (which are assigned to specific medical professionals to write and obtain prescriptions) of two doctors in order to obtain hundreds of Lortab pills from multiple pharmacies across the region.
They were divided up between himself and an unidentified woman who was not prosecuted.
Holladay told investigators with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office that he had already been in an addiction treatment program and that he was going to return to rehab once he saved up some money.
He cooperated with the investigation, and in 2008, he entered into a plea deal with prosecutors.
That deal saw him plead guilty to four counts of obtaining drugs by fraud and two counts of forgery, and he was sentenced to six years of supervised probation, which he served.
That offense is a Class D felony, meaning that Holladay was stripped of his voting rights, and while his record has not been expunged, he did successfully petition to have his voting rights reinstated.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Holladay, who is a licensed optometrist, was put on professional probation in 2012 for five years by the Tennessee Board of Optometry.
Those documents detail that Holladay began offering cosmetic treatments and misrepresented what kind of doctor he is to patients, noting the difference between a medical doctor and someone with a doctor of optometry degree.
"From on or about November 2009 through or until June 2011, Respondent [Holladay] performed cosmetic procedures including, but not limited to, Botox injections, Juvederm gel injections and MIC-Ultra B-12 injections,"
the consent order reads.
"Respondent offered his services under the business name of Resplendence Medical. Respondent did not, at any time, have a supervisor or medical director. While operating Resplendence Medical, Respondent advertised using print ads, business cards, and internet postings. On several occasions, Respondent identified himself as 'Doctor David Holladay', however, Respondent failed to identify himself as a doctor of optometry."
Holladay, who is running as an independent and is endorsed by the political action committee Williamson Families currently practices optometry, and has talked publicly about his past with addiction and recovery online.
He acknowledged his past legal, professional and personal challenges in a phone call with the Home Page.
Holladay said that he is in a better position to serve the public because of his “authenticity, transparency and integrity," lessons and virtues that he said he had to earn through the recovery process.
“I think, because I've been so open about it, and because of the just DNA-level changes that it's made in me as a person," Holladay said when asked why voters should trust him to hold the board seat, "spiritually, emotionally, from a standpoint of integrity and authenticity, the people that pushed me forward to do this did so because of my background, because of the qualities that that background and overcoming those challenges, and in the process of recovery, the qualities that it has given me.
“To look at that and look at what my life is now,” Holladay continued. “I lost everything; I rebuilt it. I've got this life that's incredibly abundant, living in an amazing community with a wonderful family and hundreds of people around our district that wanted me to do this, because of the person that I am today."
Holladay also spoke to how he's tried to make things right for his past actions.
“I took responsibility for them," he explained. "I have done everything that I was required to do and more and needed to do to take responsibility and move through those things, and so once you've faced some of the worst things that life can throw at you, it really changes you as a human being. It grounds you and it makes you authentic and gives you a level of humility and of just being real that is hard to get any other way.”
Holladay said that while he owns up to his past, he’s focused on the future, and has called out “leftist,” “woke” ideologies that he believes are threatening conservative values in Williamson County, with that battle taking place in part in the classroom.
Holladay has criticized the Wit & Wisdom curriculum and argues that "critical race theory" has made its way into WCS under the guise of English and English Arts, an argument that the Tennessee Department of Education chose not to interject into last year, rather sending the issue back to WCS.
“To restore honest, patriotic education in Williamson County Schools we need a curriculum that promotes a love for the founding principles of America, along with the understanding that we are all individuals with equal moral value under God, the Constitution, and the law,” Holladay’s website reads.
He has spoken out against efforts to enforce masking or advise vaccination in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need a school board that will respect personal health freedom by allowing parents to decide which medical decisions are best for their children,” his website reads. “And most importantly, we need to repair the relationship between the school board and the constituents of Williamson County by listening to parents as well as teachers, making every effort to create the transparent, responsive, and parent-driven educational system that we all want for our children.”
Holladay has also claimed that children are being "sexualized" and "groomed" through educational material.
“Public schools have no business discussing sexuality of any kind with elementary school kids,” Holladay said, specifically criticizing the children’s book “GayBC’s” which is one of several books that has been deemed as controversial by some and was included in the temporary removal of the district’s Epic! digital library app earlier this year.
The book was penned by McMinnville native Matt “M.L.” Webb, who told The Virginian-Pilot that "It's the kind of book that I wish I had as a child."
The author added that he began to be aware of his gender identity and sexual orientation at age 5, but didn’t have the words to express what he felt.
“People can live their lives the way they want to live it, but why do we need to try to push this information and this agenda on elementary school kids, unless you actually have another motive for it,” Holladay asked. “I just don’t think it's age appropriate.
“I'm not against people living whatever life they choose to live, you know, I'm not [homo]phobic or anything like that. I have friends that are in that community, but they don't think it's appropriate either. So I believe that there's a time and a place for certain information to be given to children, and the place is not in our schools for sexuality and [sex education] materials of that nature, and not at that age.”
Holladay clarified that he’s not for outright banning any book that mentions sexuality or gender or mentions topics such as rape or incest, but said that titles should be vetted further to determine if they are “appropriate” for students.
“I'm not trying to say that, you know, just even the mention of those things in existence needs to go,” Holladay said. “Of course, it would need to be for the age group of students where it would be appropriate and where they're emotionally and intellectually able to handle it. What I'm talking about is, the items that we are looking at and have brought up are essentially, pornography, graphic pornography, that is masquerading as some sort of art or some sort of literature.”
As the line in the culture war deepens in both Williamson County and the nation as a whole, voters will decide on Thursday just how much Holladay represents the views and values of WCS parents, and if he will replace sitting District 10 board member Eric Welch.