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Anderson not seeking second term

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Tracy Anderson stepping down from Grayson County School Board in January

By Shaina Stockton

INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County School Board At-large Member Tracy “Zeke” Anderson has announced that he will not run for another term in this ye ar’s general election.

Anderson took the at-large seat on the school board following a special election on Nov. 8, 2016, winning by two votes against challenger Philip Vaughan. The school board seat Anderson filled was left vacant in July 2016, after former at-large member Tim “T.T.” Carico died from injuries sustained in an ATV accident.

In a recent interview with the newspaper, Anderson explained that he felt he’d reached a good point to step down and let someone new serve the school system.

“I think we need fresh faces and new ideas,” Anderson said. “We don’t have term limits, so I think it’s up to members of the board to self-monitor.”

Prior to serving on the school board, Anderson was an advocate for the school system both as a parent and as the founding member of Grayson Citizens for Better Schools, a group that formed in 2015 during a lengthy school budget crisis. Prior to serving as an elected official, he regularly attended school board meetings.

During his time on the board, Anderson said he gained a new perspective in comparison with his advocacy as a citizen.

“As a board member being on the inside of closed-door discussions, one thing I’ve learned is there’s a lot more to what we do than the community sees; and there are so many different aspects to each situation,” Anderson said. “Usually, when a parent comes to the board or seeks out a member, it’s because they have [an issue]. As a board member, I’ve had to backtrack to see issues from a parent’s perspective, and go through the proper chain of command and figure out how to best direct them. In doing that, I’ve learned that there’s usually more to the story than the complainant knows at the time.”

Anderson said that during his term he’s learned to work for the community in a positive manner; and how to mend relationships.

Looking back to the 2016 election, he shared one of his regrets.

“Reflecting back to when [the election] transpired… the biggest regret that I have is some of the verbal sparring matches with friends and good people through the media. Someone once told me that it’s okay to do the right thing, but to do the right thing for the right reasons. Politics can be very divisive and I sacrificed some relationships to be in that position. I wish it didn’t have to be that way,” Anderson said.

Continuing, he shared that it took some time to settle in as a member of the board and develop a positive rapport with some of the other members.

“Initially, it seemed like my fellow board members didn’t want to communicate with me. It wasn’t a very warm welcome. But over the past three years, we’ve been able to mend those relationships and I can honestly say we’ve all worked well together. We don’t always agree on every issue, but we try to work for the best interest of the students, teachers and taxpayers.”

Anderson continued: “When everything was finalized after the last election, I met with Phillip Vaughan. He’d asked me to do him a favor: to always pray before I made a decision as a board member. I told him that went without saying, and I kept that promise. During every moment of silence since I’ve been on the board, I’ve always prayed that we as a board would do best for students, taxpayers and employees of the school system.”

Overall, Anderson feels that his time on the board was well-served, and that he and fellow board members have worked as a team to make a lot of positive changes.

“I feel like the school system overall is in the best shape that I’ve seen in a long time, both academically and financially. In the past three years, we have made major efforts to get our teachers’ pay to a more competitive level. And there have been small things I’ve pushed for along the way, such as having PE teachers in every elementary school each day instead of one hour a week,” Anderson said. “Academically, all of our schools were accredited this past year, so things seem to be moving forward.”

Anderson said the board members made a conscious effor to be as frugal with taxpayer dollars as they can. “One example was closing Baywood School. It was a difficult decision to make, but economically it was the right thing to do. We have also looked at consolidating bus routes in the event of [driver] retirements, and have consolidated positions when we were able to do so. We have tried to be good stewards when it comes to the taxpayers’ money.”

Anderson said he’s happy to leave the board on a good note and pass the torch on to another member who will serve in the best interest for the community.

To potential candidates, Anderson offered some advice.

“There will be people in the community who may or may not support you; but be sure to represent them all equally. Listen to all sides of the story,” he said. “Another note I’ll make, not just as a school board member but as anyone in the position of being an elected official, is that you will take the blame for things you had nothing to do with and get credit for things you had nothing to do with. The board provides oversight and some checks and balances; but the success of the school really relies on the administration and our teachers. The employees are really the nuts and bolts that hold our school system together and they are all valuable,” Anderson said.

Giving credit to Schools Superintendent Kelly Wilmore, Anderson added, “When I came on board during the election, Mr. Wilmore and I were opponents. But we forged a strong relationship and worked with the board members to do some very positive things. A lot of good things have happened and a lot of good things are still to come,” he said.

While Anderson will be stepping down from his role as a school board member, he noted that he is not completely ruling out politics in his future.

“I may choose a candidate and help support them. And I will also leave the door open that I may run for another county office in the future. But in the immediate future, I’m just going to focus on my family and my health and support the school system as a parent,” Anderson said. “I believe that at this stage, I can be just as effective as a community leader as I can being a board member.”

The cutoff date for candidates to file as a candidate in this year’s general election is June 11.