The Williamson County Board of Commissioners officially appointed a new Williamson County Schools Board of Education member for District 4 on Monday.
There were 10 applicants to the position, and 16 of the 24 commissioners voted to appoint Josh Brown to replace former school board member Brad Fiscus. Fiscus recently moved out of state, leaving his position at the end of September.
“One candidate constantly showed their understanding of the challenges and answers to the parents’ concerns that aligned with the majority of the parents that I have heard from,” said District 4 Commissioner Chad Story, who nominated Brown after interviewing all the applicants alongside the district’s second commissioner, Gregg Lawrence. “Someone who has multigenerational ties to Williamson County, which has been active in our community for his entire life, who I feel has the intellect, demeanor and professional aptitude to best serve the families of this county fairly even through the tough choices that this demands and do so in a constructive manner even in the face of a wide range of emotions that this position often navigates.”
During the meeting, District 8 Commissioner Barb Sturgeon also nominated applicant Bridget Parkes, and District 5 Commissioner Beth Lothers nominated applicant Seth Yu. Sturgeon gave the only vote for Parkes, while Lothers’ vote for Yu was joined by votes from District 3 commissioners Jennifer Mason and Keith Hudson.
Dana Ausbrooks, who is employed by WCS, abstained from the vote, and commissioners Gregg Lawrence, Erin Nations and Tommy Little were absent from the meeting.
Nine members of the community spoke during the meeting’s public comment segment asking the commission to delay the vote for school board member appointment. Many believed the public did not have enough time to review the applicants and give input to the commission.
“The people of Williamson County have spoken, and there is no need to rush this vote,” said Marisa Diplock, a Spring Hill resident. “I ask you to either abstain this evening or to delay the vote entirely. To [vote tonight] will be closing your eyes and your ears on the people who have asked and who have let you know that we want more time.”
Robin Steenman, the president of the Williamson County chapter of Moms For Liberty, said she had a petition with 1,335 signatures for the board to delay the vote.
Williamson County Attorney Jeff Moseley said according to county rules, the commissioners must appoint a member to fill the open seat on the school board at the next regular meeting following the vacancy, which fell on Monday.
“That is the law,” Moseley said of the county rule when Sturgeon asked what would happen if the commission delayed the vote. “You would be violating the private act if you did not fill the seat tonight.”
Others shared their belief that Brown’s employment by Pfizer presents a conflict of interest on the school board. Brown said should any conflict arise, he would abstain from voting concerning those matters.
“I’ve been here all my life. I’ve contributed, I think, quite a bit to the community — not as much as some, but I feel like I’ve invested in the community, care deeply about what happens to our school system,” Brown said. “This was an opportunity that presented itself, … and I saw an opportunity to serve and make a contribution, so that’s what I’m doing.”
He added that he has seen and heard false information spreading among the community and online about himself since he has applied to the position, and he hopes people will reach out and talk to him about these matters.
During a meeting recess, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson officially swore Brown in as District 4’s school board member. He will finish out the current term of the position until it is up for election in August of 2022.
The county is scheduled to meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, at the Williamson County Administrative Complex. The WCS school board is scheduled to meet next at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at the Williamson County Administrative Complex.