Challengers Upshaw, Harvey win seats on Kingsport BOE

Rick Wagner • May 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Newcomers Carrie Upshaw and Cheryl Harvey won the two seats up for grabs on the Kingsport Board of Education Tuesday, narrowly defeating first-term incumbent Ron George.

In a five-way race for two four-year terms, Upshaw got 1,509 votes (24.3 percent), Harvey polled 1,490 (23.99 percent) to win, and George followed at 1,379 (22.2 percent), according to unofficial tallies of the Sullivan County Election Commission announced Tuesday evening.

Dr. John Hall received 946 votes (15.23 percent), while Susan Bishop got 887 votes (14.28 percent).

Pat Turner did not seek re-election to the board.

“I feel great. I feel relieved. I feel tired,” Upshaw said after learning of her win with supporters at a local restaurant.

“I had a lot of people who were talking about me and spreading the word, doing campaigning for me,” Upshaw said. “I spent a lot of the day with Cheryl at (the) Clouds Bend (precinct) in Ridgefields.”

Long active in PTSAs in her children’s schools and a volunteer in schools, Upshaw, 45, cited her volunteer work.

“I put my money and my time where my mouth is,” said Upshaw, a chemical engineer and University of Tennessee graduate who left a job at Tennessee Eastman Co. to volunteer and help raise her children.

As for Harvey, the director of work force development for Eastman Chemical Co., she said she was grateful and humbled for her victory and promised to have the “utmost integrity and be a good listener.”

Harvey, 52, earned a bachelor’s of science degree in business from Virginia Tech in 1978. She went to work at Eastman in 1978, then left in the mid- to late 1980s to raise children, substitute teach in Sullivan County schools and operate a small decorating business before returning to Eastman full time in 1992.

Harvey is involved with the Tennessee-Virginia Scholars program Eastman sponsors. She also was co-chairwoman of this year’s Sullivan County baccalaureate service, a religious graduation service held Sunday.

“I really thank God. I put this in his hands when I ran for this,” Harvey said from her home.

The BOE race occurred at a time when the school board is seeking $1.71 million in new funding from the city but is in line to receive only $800,000, based on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s draft budget for 2009-10.

During the campaign, Harvey said funding education should be a top priority for the city, while Upshaw called for prudent and responsible funding requests, adding that taxpayers should be willing to pay extra “if necessary” for specific school system needs.

George, who was out taking up campaign signs Tuesday night, said he was proud of his supporters, that the candidates ran a good race despite a low-turnout election, and that Harvey and Upshaw will do a great job.

“Carrie and Cheryl are great opponents and good people,” said George, 49.

He added that Hall ran a good race and pointed out Bishop led absentee voting among the five.

George is a systems analyst for the parent company of Food City, K-VA-T Foods Inc., a native of Portales, N.M., and an honors graduate of Eastern New Mexico University.

The unofficial results indicated that in the BOE race 1,001 “under votes” occurred, meaning that 1,001 voters able to cast ballots for two candidates instead chose to vote for only one.

Upshaw said such “one-shot voting” was discussed in her campaign and probably was used by supporters of different BOE candidates.

Click here for results from the Sullivan County Election Commission.

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