The nomination faced a gauntlet of naysayers and familiar outbursts from angry parents, but the Williamson County Commission voted overwhelmingly Monday night to fill the vacant District 4 Board of Education seat with Josh Brown, a lifelong Franklin resident and fourth-generation Williamson Countian.
Brown was one of 10 candidates who had applied to finish out the term of the departed Brad Fiscus, who moved out of state with his family in September. District 4 commissioners Gregg Lawrence and Chad Story interviewed the applicants and announced their choice of Brown last Thursday. He was sworn in by Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson after he received a majority 16 votes.
Beth Lothers from District 5 nominated Seth Yu, who got three votes, and Barbara Sturgeon’s selection of Bridgett Parkes received one vote. Dana Ausbrooks from District 12 abstained, and Lawrence, Tommy Little from District 5 and Erin Nations from District 6 were absent.
“As the process progressed, one candidate constantly showed their understanding of the challenges and the answers to parents’ concerns that align with the majority of parents that I have heard from,” Story explained, at times interrupted by some in the audience who were opposed to the choice of Brown.
[“Brown is] someone who has multigenerational ties to Williamson County, who has been active in our community his entire life, who I feel has the intellect, the demeanor, the professional aptitude that best serves the families of this county fairly, even through the tough choices this position demands. …
“This is why the decision to appoint Josh Brown to the District 4 school board was made, and those who know Josh and understand his calm personality, coupled with his lifelong example of leadership and love for this community, will be an asset to our families.”
All nine speakers who participated in the public comments segment of the meeting voiced concern with Story and Lawrence’s selection of Brown, a few suggesting the vote be delayed or that there was no rush to fill the seat. County Attorney Jeff Moseley later explained the law for how a school board seat should be filled when it comes before an election is held, showing that the seat did, indeed, need to be filled immediately.
There was also mention of the fact that Brown works for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and that could mean a conflict of interest, especially if it comes to vaccinating children.
“I’ve said before I will recuse myself if that became necessary, and I stand by that,” he said. “But I’m not going to apologize who I work for.”
Brown and his wife, Mary Kate Brown, have three children in the Williamson County Schools district. He is a 1991 graduate of Page High School.
“It’s an honor to be nominated,” Brown told commissioners. … “I feel I’ve invested in the community and care deeply about what happens to our school system. This is an opportunity that was presented that no one really expected two months ago, but here we are. I saw an opportunity to serve and make a contribution, and that’s what I’m doing.”
The WCS school board will meet next Monday night at 6:30 in the auditorium of the Williamson County Administrative Complex.