Jim Dodson, an Oak Ridge art teacher and community leader, has announced that he will be a candidate for Oak Ridge City Council in the November 8 election.
Dodson, a teacher with Oak Ridge Schools for 29 years, has a strong record of community service and leadership on several civic boards and organizations, a press release said.
“I will definitely work alongside my Oak Ridge and East Tennessee neighbors for a better quality of life in our community,” Dodson said. “I hope to give our residents a voice on City Council and continue to promote excellent educational opportunities for all our kids and young adults.
“I will also continue to help recruit businesses and families to Oak Ridge as the place to relocate. I look forward to working as an Oak Ridge City Council member to maintain and improve all city services while providing safe and thriving neighborhoods. It’s my vision that what Oak Ridge has to offer should not be a secret anymore.”
Dodson said he has found Oak Ridge to be the perfect place to work and raise a family. As an educator, he said he feels fortunate to have helped guide thousands of young people through their middle school years. The art teacher has given students many opportunities to exhibit their works publicly in the region and the state, including displays of student art in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building as well as the Knoxville Museum of Art. Dodson has also been instrumental in securing college scholarship offerings for students statewide, the press release said.
During the past decade, Dodson has served as board member, president, and director of the Arts Council of Oak Ridge. He has also served as chairperson of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau, now known as Explore Oak Ridge, and as a member of the newly formed Secret City Festival Board.
“I want to continue to get the word out that Oak Ridge is no longer a ‘Secret City,’ but an excellent community to visit, conduct business, vacation, and raise a family,” Dodson said.
In 2015, Dodson served as co-chair of the United Way of Anderson County annual giving campaign.
“The most heart-warming moments were visiting the leaders, volunteers, and clients of the more than 30 agencies served to see how the contributions from generous donors benefit so many of our neighbors,” he said. “The residents of Oak Ridge are fortunate to benefit from these outstanding organizations and volunteers.”
Dodson’s community service also includes his membership in the Sunset Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, where he has served as administrative and membership chair. Dodson was recently elected by the club to the position of president-elect.
Among other accomplishments Dodson also cited, “I am honored to have worked to expand the Sunset Rotary Club’s DaVinci Arts and Science Fair and my role with other classmates as Leadership Oak Ridge established the Youth Leadership Program through the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.”
Dodson, his wife Becky, and daughter Laura moved to Oak Ridge in 1993 primarily for the strong school system. Then they learned that their new home had so much more to offer, the press release said.
Dodson attended college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he received bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and an educational specialist degree. In 1999, Dodson was awarded the National Middle Level Art Educator Award from the National Art Education Association, the press release said. More recently, Dodson received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Tennessee Education Association and was appointed to the board of Humanities Tennessee by Governor Bill Haslam.
Dodson is the second candidate to publicly announce a run for City Council in the November 8 election, at least to Oak Ridge Today. Oak Ridge High School junior Mark LeNoir, who will turn 18 in October, about a month before the election, was the first.
If they seek re-election, the three incumbents would be Council members Trina Baughn, Charlie Hensley, and Chuck Hope. Council seats are at-large, meaning they are city-wide seats and there are no districts. That means the three candidates who get the most votes in November will be elected to the seven-member body. The other four seats will be up for election in November 2018.
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