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Former educators seeking seat on Sullivan BOE

Rick Wagner • Mar 19, 2018 at 11:15 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Unless more filings emerge by the April 5 deadline, the only contested Sullivan County Board of Education race in 2018 will be in District 6 between former educators Randall Gilmore and Gee Gee Hillman.

Hillman filed her qualifying petition with the Sullivan County Election Commission March 9, and Gilmore filed March 12, although Hillman was the first to pick up a petition. Both are from Blountville. Incumbent Jerry Greene, of Bristol, who has served 24 years on the county BOE and another nine on the Bristol, Tenn., school board, is not seeking re-election.

The deadline to file for the nonpartisan races for three seats, in Districts 2, 4 and 6, is noon on April 5 in the Election Commission Office in Blountville, and the deadline to withdraw is noon on April 12 in the same place. The school board election, part of the county general election, is Aug. 2; those elected are to be sworn in come September.

In uncontested school board races, as of Thursday, Chairman Michael Hughes, of Hickory Tree, in District 4 and incumbent Dan Wells, of Kingsport, in District 2 had picked up and filed, but no one else had done either. The BOE chairman and vice chairman are chosen annually by the seven-member board, not voters. 

WHAT ARE THE DISTRICT 6 FILERS’ BACKGROUNDS?

Hillman taught more than 38 years in the county school system before retiring in 2012 but continues to substitute, both at the middle school level and at Sullivan Central High School, where she was in the first graduating class in 1969. She spent most of her career as a third-grade teacher at Rock Springs Elementary School, beginning the year it opened in 1979 and continuing until 2012, after starting out at Miller Perry Elementary in 1974. She also was president of the Sullivan County Education Association for two years and was the county’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2011.

Hillman earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education at East Tennessee State University and her master’s in education at Tusculum.

Retired Colonial Heights Middle School principal Gilmore, director of teacher education and assistant professor of education at King University, was in education 33 years, serving as a teacher in Sullivan County and Bristol, Tenn., as well as assistant principal at Sullivan South High.

Gilmore, a graduate of Sullivan East High, got his bachelor’s degree in history from King, his master’s in education from Milligan College and his education specialist or Ed.S. degree in curriculum and instruction and education leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. He taught in Bristol, Tenn., schools a year and a half and was a teacher and coach in Sullivan County for 22 years and an administrator for six. He spent two years as assistant principal at South and four years as principal at Colonial Heights Middle.

As an educator, he said he’s worked in all four high school zones over the years, including time at North and South highs, Bluff City Middle, East High and Central High, the latter for summer school.

WHO IS NOT ON THE BALLOT THIS YEAR?

Among current members not up for re-election this year are retired teacher Jane Thomas of the Bluff City area and retired Bristol, Tenn., administrator and former teacher Randall Jones of Indian Springs, as well as air traffic controller Mark Ireson of Colonial Heights and attorney Matthew Spivey of Kingsport. The four-year board terms are staggered, with three up for grabs this year and the other four on the August 2020 ballot.

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