Betty Bean has the story of an unlikely two-term winner on the Knox County School Board, Jennifer Owen.
Owen won re-election on Tuesday night by a large margin despite being outspent, reports Bean:
Sure, she had devoted volunteers and steady support from educators, but her opponent, John Meade, co-president of the Central High School Foundation, was rocking big ticket contributions from the top tier of the local GOP donor base and dispatching bales of direct mail to district mailboxes while Owen only sent out two mailers, one of which she paid for with $2,000 borrowed from her husband, Robert. Her only other large contribution was $2,500 from the K-PACE, the Knox County Education Association political action committee.
As Bean continues, she notes that Owen is known for speaking truth to power. She takes principled stands, even if they are sometimes unpopular. She’s not at all afraid to make the establishment uncomfortable. She asks tough questions. She’s unrelenting in her advocacy for public education.
Her story is not unlike that of Nashville’s Amy Frogge, now a two-term school board member. Frogge was outspent by large margins in both of her campaigns, and both times she won big. She challenges city leaders and state policymakers and she’s relentless.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in this for politicians everywhere: Stay true to your principles, fight hard, and do what’s right – even in the face of well-funded, polished interests who claim to be “for the kids.”
Whatever the case, Owen joins Frogge as someone who looks at the powerful interests in her way and nevertheless, persists.
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