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Shelby County School Board: Sams beats Hinkle; Jackson wins

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By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Board of Education is gaining one fresh face and bringing back another longtime member.

With 56.5 percent of the vote, Karen Sams topped 12-year incumbent Sam Hinkle in 2nd District race. In the 5th District, Brenda Jackson earned 60.6 percent of the vote in a big win over challenger Kurt Smith.

Incumbent Allen Phillips was unopposed in District 3.

“I’m very excited,” Sams said on Tuesday evening. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m not scared of hard work, I never have been.”

Sams also ran against Hinkle in 2008 and lost by just 17 votes.

Sams based her campaign largely on the district’s high tax rate and what she believes to be inefficient spending.

“I am concerned about the efficient usage of our tax dollars and Shelby County's education system,” she said during the campaign. “Instead of continual funding by raising taxes, we need to look at what areas the school system can be more efficient.”

And she said she counted those ideas as part of the reason she was elected.

“I think there were several things [that led to my election],” she said. “There are a lot of people out there that are concerned with our higher taxes and lower test scores.”

Jackson’s landslide victory will keep her on the board for four more years, on top of the 24 already served.

Jackson was not available for comment when the results came in Tuesday, and did not return a message left by The Sentinel-News.

Jackson campaigned with the goal of student achievement at the top of her list, mirroring the district’s educational goals.

“We need to have every student reading on grade level comparable to their academic level,” she said last month in an interview. “We need to continue with the Big Goals of all elementary students going to middle school on grade level, all middle school students to high school on grade level and all seniors graduating with college and career ready skills.”

Sams’ first term and Jackson’s seventh will begin Jan. 1.