Carringer, Fugate show differences

Sandra Clark

Michele Carringer really wants to be on Knox County Commission, but it’s hard for her to clearly say why.

And last week, with a chance to appear with her opponents, John Fugate and Laura Kildare, at the Fountain City Business and Professional Association, she claimed a last-minute need to miss the meeting.

Kildare, a teacher for Knox County Schools, sent a representative. She’s a candidate for the Democratic nomination, facing Cheri Siler, who has withdrawn from the race.

Fugate relished the free exposure to Fountain City’s business community. He’s already racked up endorsements from the News Sentinel and the Knox County Education Association. He was a favorite at the BPA, too, serving as the club’s president and having been on its board for some 10 years.

Carringer grew up in Fountain City, the daughter of Jack and Irene McCrary. Her mom served a term as chair of the Knox County Republican Party.

Michele and husband Michael Carringer have two children, Christie and Kent, and a granddaughter.

Fugate, manager of Commercial Bank in Fountain City, is from a family of educators. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from ETSU.

Both candidates appeared on “Inside Tennessee” Sunday morning.

And that’s where the differences showed.

Asked about the city and county’s $12 million subsidy to move Regal Cinemas from Halls to South Knoxville, Fugate said he wished Regal would stay in Halls.

Carringer called it a good deal for Knox County to have Regal relocate to the waterfront.

Fugate firmly supported construction of new middle schools at Gibbs and Hardin Valley, while Carringer said she generally supports community schools but favors a balanced use of capital money to create facilities parity among all schools, whether new construction or renovations.

Fugate stressed his business background, while Carringer emphasized her passion for people and service. She has a lengthy list of service on nonprofit boards.

Voters can hear and meet the candidates at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at Sterchi Elementary School.

It speaks to the diversity of District 2 that school areas invited include: Belle Morris, Shannondale, Sterchi, Christenberry, Inskip and Fountain City elementary schools; Central and Fulton high schools; Gresham and Whittle Springs middle schools; and Kelley Volunteer Academy, Richard Yoakley Alternative School and the adult high school.

Grant Standefer talks funding

Grant Standefer, District 2 candidate for school board, benefited from Michele Carringer’s absence at the Fountain City BPA meeting.

John Fugate invited Standefer to take the empty chair. It was a Fugate-like gracious act, but it slighted Standefer’s opponent, Jennifer Owen, who was not invited to the meeting. Standefer had just shown up, but he made the most of the opportunity.

It was interesting to see two guys who obviously didn’t know each other very well discuss issues of funding, school priorities and taxes. Voters got a glimpse of how Fugate and Standefer, both first-time candidates, could work as partners to help residents of District 2.

Standefer said after Wednesday’s meeting that he did not solicit the campaign donations of almost $30,000 as of Jan. 15, that we wrote about last week.

“That money just came in,” he said. “I only asked for one donation … from a friend.”

Hmmm. Must have been that Laurens Tullock email solicitation we wrote about a couple of weeks back.

We raced home and found the email. Sure enough, every “maxed out” donor –$3,000 for a couple – to the campaigns of Buddy Pelot (Farragut) and Standefer (Fountain City) got Tullock’s email.

Guess Buddy’s money “just came in” as well.

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