School board races could add partisan flavor

Tennessee House Bill 9072 (Senate Bill 9009) has been sent to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for signature.

The bill would allow for candidates for school board to campaign as the nominee of a political party in a partisan race if the applicable county primary board of a political party elects to conduct school board elections on a partisan basis.

Currently, school board seats are not tied to any partisan race. This could mean school board races will move to the primary ballot before being placed on the general election ballot each race.

Below is a full summary of the bill:

Primary elections in which candidates nominated for school boards are to appear on the regular August election ballot will be held on the first Tuesday in May before the August election. In presidential election years, a political party primary for offices to be elected in the regular August election will be held on the same day as the presidential preference primary;

(2) Primary elections in which candidates nominated for school board are to appear on the regular November election ballot will be held concurrently with the regular August election; and

(3) Primary elections in which candidates nominated for school board are to appear on a ballot other than the regular August or regular November election ballot will be held on the first Tuesday in the third month before the election. If the first Tuesday of the third month falls on a legal holiday, the election will be held on the second Tuesday of the third month before the election.

This amendment further specifies that, if the date for a primary election falls within 90 days of an upcoming regular primary or general election being held in the jurisdiction, the commission or commissions may reset the date of the primary election to coincide with the regular primary or general election.

The full text of this amendment specifies the qualifying deadlines for primary elections to select candidates for school board.

AMENDMENT #5 incorporates the provisions of House Amendment #1 and makes the partisan election of school board members permissive rather than mandatory.

ON OCTOBER 29, 2021, THE SENATE SUBSTITUTED HOUSE BILL 9072 FOR SENATE BILL 9009, ADOPTED AMENDMENTS # 2 AND 3, AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 9072, AS AMENDED.

(3) Adds that, if a county executive committee timely filed a notice with the county election commission directing the commission to hold a May primary election in 2022, then within 30 days of the date that this bill becomes a law, the county executive committee may file a supplemental notice, in writing, to include school board offices to be elected in the regular August election within the county.

AMENDMENT #2 incorporates the provisions of House Amendment #5 with the following substantive changes and additions:

(1) Specifies that candidates for school board may campaign as the nominee or representative of a political party if the applicable county primary board of a political party elects to conduct school board elections on a partisan basis;

(2) Specifies that political parties may elect to nominate a candidate under party rules rather than by primary election; and

AMENDMENT #3 adds that, no later than 30 days after the date that this bill becomes a law, a county executive committee may direct, in writing, the county election commission to hold a primary for school board offices to be elected in the regular November 2022 election.