School board wrinkle | Arkansas Blog

Monday, August 6, 2007

School board wrinkle

Posted By on Mon, Aug 6, 2007 at 3:15 PM

Hmmm. A new wrinkle in the race for Zone 2 on the Little Rock School Board. Mike Nellums, a principal of the middle school for boys in Jacksonville in the Pulaski County Special School District, filed before today's deadline.

Nellums is black. I asked. He said it was "offensive" that I had asked. But, as I have said ruefully before, race issues are unavoidable in discussing the Little Rock School  District and this particular election. The seat represents a majority black district. Recent School Board votes have invariably split 4-3 on racial lines, with the four black members in the majority.

This would put four candidates in the race -- Anna Swaim and gadlfy Drew Pritt, who are white, and 12-year incumbent Michael Daugherty and Nellums, who are black.

Daugherty is immensely unpopular in the business community and there have been rumors for months that recruiting efforts were underway to find candidates to oppose him. Swaim has said her decision to run was strictly her own. I presume Nellums would say the same. (However, I was told he sought business community support, but some who met him were put off. He's notorious among teachers for his forceful tactics with employees, so forceful, apparently,  that he was expelled from membership in the Arkansas Education Association and the National Education Association in December 2006. Here's one story where his leadership style came up.)

The entry of Nellums into the race likely complicates the electoral arithmetic if you assume the racially polarized voting that's sadly typical of most elections. The zone was 68 percent black in the 2000 census. A strong race by Swaim and a strong race by Nellums could put any two of three in a runoff. I have a hunch that supporters of the pre-2006 election LRSD status quo would be tickled pink with a Nellums-Swaim runoff. However, that presumption may be erroneous, on the strength of the vibes I'm getting about Nellums. 

PS -- Nobody filed to oppose incumbent Baker Kurrus.

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