Note: This story was last updated at 1:35 a.m. Nov. 5.
Imagine this: A politician runs for re-election and tells voters he wants to raise taxes—and they re-elect him anyway. Seems unlikely, right?
Well, that’s what happened Tuesday night in Oak Ridge.
Bob Eby, the only incumbent in the eight-person race for the Oak Ridge Board of Education, hasn’t been afraid to tell voters that he thinks Oak Ridge Schools need more money—and he intends to ask for a tax increase next year to help the school system.
His honesty hasn’t hurt him with voters; Eby was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s municipal election. He finished with 4,635 votes in Anderson and Roane counties, according to unofficial results. That was almost 900 votes ahead of the second-place finisher, newcomer Laura McLean. She ended the night with 3,774 votes.
Another newcomer, Paige Marshall, was about 400 votes behind McLean, picking up the third of the three available seats with 3,345 votes.
Aaron Wells, who has previously run for school board, finished fourth with 2,325 votes, or almost 1,000 fewer than Marshall.
Two school board members whose terms expire this month did not seek re-election. They are Dan DiGregorio and Jenny Richter.
On Tuesday, Eby, who is vice chair of the school board, said he has been very open about his position on taxes and the actions that need to be taken to ensure that Oak Ridge continues to have high-quality schools.
Still, the tax talk hasn’t necessarily been the centerpiece of Eby’s campaign. He’s brought it up on occasion—during budget discussions in May and in a September forum, for example—but he’s been more likely to focus on other issues like the school system’s Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness.
The school board does not have the authority to raise the property tax rate, meaning it would be up to the Oak Ridge City Council to approve or reject any tax increase proposed by the Board of Education. It’s one of the topics that tends to generate the most division between the two bodies, although candidates in both the City Council and school board races have pledged to repair that relationship.
Trailing Wells in the election on Tuesday, according to unofficial results, were new candidates Laurie Paine, Mike Mahathy, Andy Howe, and Jean Hiser.
Here is the final vote tally in Anderson and Roane counties, according to unofficial results:
More information will be added as it becomes available.