Losing Candidate Questions Spending In School Board Race

Unified Shelby County School board member Kenneth Whalum is questioning the connection between school board candidates endorsed by a public education advocacy group and the candidates’ allegiance to the Transition Planning Commission’s plan for merging the school districts.
“If our children are for sale, I need to know exactly how many votes they are worth,” he said in a press conference Monday outside the former election commission offices Downtown.
Whalum lost his bid for re-election by 88 votes to opponent Kevin Woods, endorsed by Stand for Children. If he must prove fraud to get a recount, Whalum said his lawsuit against the Shelby County Election Commission will include subpoenas for correspondence between the advocacy group Stand, the unified school board and the TPC.
“Oooh, I look forward to this,” he said.
Kenya Bradshaw, executive director the Tennessee chapter of Stand, is a member of the TPC.
Last week, Stand announced it spent $153,000 on seven local school board races, including Woods’ race against Whalum. Most of the money spent on the campaign, Bradshaw said, came from an out-of-town donor, whom Stand said gave $200,000.
Bradshaw would not identify the donor.
Whalum wants to know what influence that person may have had on the TPC or the school board. “If there is a connection between a sitting member of the TPC, sitting members of the school board and the single-source $200,000 contribution, we’ll find out.”
Last week, Whalum said he would not seek a recount. He said the onus was on him to win by an indisputable measure.
He changed his mind Sunday, at his wife’s urging, saying voting errors in the election itself, redistricting that moved him from his Orange Mound base and evidence that Stand had heavily invested in his opponent created a “perfect storm of coincidences” he could no longer overlook
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