Between now and the Williamson County election Thursday, Aug. 4, the Williamson Home Page is profiling candidates in the Williamson County Board of Education race.
Though he’s never held public office or run for an elected position, Ken Chilton believes he checks all the boxes that otherwise make him a viable candidate for a seat on the Williamson County Board of Education.
A nine-year Franklin resident who moved here from Chattanooga after being born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Chilton is running as an independent against Republican Donna Clements in District 8, a seat vacated by Candy Emerson. The election is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 4.
Chilton is currently an associate professor of Public Administration at Tennessee State University, and has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses at UNC-Charlotte, Jackson State University, UT-Chattanooga and the University of Louisville.
In addition, he’s a trained researcher and data analyst and considers himself “data-driven” — skills that he deems necessary for the county’s school board.
“I do think my professional training and work experiences are a good fit for the board,” Chiton said recently. “I’ve been teaching at university level for 20-plus years. I understand the teaching side of it. I also understand the management, the board role and how to interpret and use data to make sense.”
Like many who move to Williamson County, Chilton and his wife and their then 4-year-old son came here for the schools. Their son will be an eighth-grader come August.
Chilton said he and his wife have been pleased with just about every aspect of Williamson County Schools, and he doesn’t want to see the system sidetracked. He has seen the turmoil that has erupted at school board meetings across the country over the past couple of years, what with parental concerns over masking and vaccinations, critical race theory and curriculum, to name a few, and wants to do his part to bring more calm.
“I was looking at it from a [national] perspective, and then I see it happening in my own community at the best school district in the state and one of the best in the country,” Chilton said. “That shocked me.
“That’s when I started thinking that I could get involved. I waited and didn’t see other people signing up. I didn’t want there to be no competition.”
Chilton knows the school board and the community at large are comprised of members with differing perspectives, values and ideologies. But he insists there’s no reason disagreements can’t be addressed in a civil manner.
“I think we need to come together as a community,” he said. “There is a lot of tension out there. … One thing I think the board needs to do is, we need to collaborate. I might have a very strong opinion, but it’s not just my will.
“I’m willing, in good faith, to sit down with others who might be different in how they feel and try to hammer out a consensus. We need to think about what’s best for the students and teachers, and that’s where we start.”
Visit Ken Chilton’s Facebook page for more information.