Todd Pembroke holds a slim lead in the GOP primary for the District 2 school board

  • Republican Todd Pembroke holds a narrow lead in the GOP primary.
  • Incumbent Rachael Anne Elrod ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Todd Pembroke held a six-vote lead over Mark Woodward in the Nashville School Board’s District 2 Republican primary Tuesday night in the city’s first-ever partisan race.

If Pembroke wins the Republican nomination, he will face Democratic incumbent Rachael Anne Elrod and independent Edward Arnold in the Aug. 4 general election. Elrod ran unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

With all 19 constituencies in the district reporting, Pembroke had 482 votes to Woodward’s 476. A third Republican, Janeen Kingma, won 76 votes.

Pembroke, who runs a branch of Farmers Insurance and is a captain in the Tennessee Army National Guard, plans to use his background in business and the military to be a school board “problem solver.” with a wide range of perspectives.

“I’m in sales, so I know negotiations are key,” he said. “We need to work together as a board, come together on the same page and work together to find a common solution.”

Pembroke’s priorities include carrying out a comprehensive audit of the budget to ensure “tax efficient spending”. He pleads for an increase in the remuneration of support staff. It would also work to improve communication and trust between the school board, parents and teachers, and remove controversial or contentious topics, such as critical race theory and gender identity, from the curriculum.

Rachael Anne Elrod, Nashville District 2 School Board Candidate

Critical Race Theory is an academic framework widely taught at the college level and is not taught in metropolitan schools.

The expansion of charter schools, how board members should engage with their constituents, and student and staff retention are key flashpoints in the race for District 2.

Elrod has drawn attention as an advocate of mask mandates and an opponent of charter schools. Endorsed by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association, she cited first quarter successes, including the opening of two new elementary schools in the district and the expansion of pre-K.

“I ran in 2018 and continue to do so because the Board of Education needs a steady voice for logic-based professional and strategic leadership,” Elrod wrote in a questionnaire for The Tennessean. “We always need members who can challenge what they know and not oversimplify complex issues.”

Edward Arnold, candidate for Nashville School Board, District 2

Arnold, an independent, is running for the school board to promote a funding model he created called Teacher Incentive for Public Schools, or TIPS. Developed in 2018 with input from Nashville teachers, TIPS would allocate resources to increase teacher and staff salaries and hire teaching assistants for support in crowded classrooms.

Arnold first ran for the school board in 2014 and ran again in 2018. The issues raised in that election still persist, he said.

“In 2018, with the teachers, I identified a problem,” Arnold said. “We have found a possible solution to this problem and a method of financing this problem. I would just like to try.

Located in South Nashville, District 2 borders Brentwood on one side and Antioch on the other. It includes some of the most successful elementary schools in the Nashville metro area, but also underfunded schools that struggle to serve a large population of English language learners.

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