12 Candidates vie for Madison County School Board District 1 Seat

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - We got our first glimpse Monday night at who may take over the District 1 seat on the Madison County School board. 12 candidates are vying to fill Daniel Nash's remaining term, who announced his resignation two weeks ago.

Candidates got just 5 minutes in front of the board, who has to pick the best and brightest finalists for the seat. "I have worked with the students, I have worked with teachers. I have worked with superintendents," says Jessie Hutchens, a candidate for the seat.

Many spoke about their wealth of experience as former employees of the school system. "I believe my years in the school system provide me an insight on the needs of the students, the school, and our school system," says Tom Brandon, another candidate.

Tommy Ledbetter says, "My desire to see Madison County students be well educated and successful didn't end when I retired."

Nathan Curry pointed to his lack of inside knowledge as a strength.  "I don't know a lot about the board, but I'm gonna find out," he says.

Others said they chose to run because of the children like Matt Bennett, or proud Grandmother Rhonda Rose Caskin. The youngest candidate graduated high school just two years ago.  "My voice is the epitome of the young generation which is our future," says Matthew Cleveland.

Rich McAdams was a very familiar face to the board. He served for 12 years in the District 1 seat and is offering his services again to provide stability during the rest of Nash's term, but won't run for re-election. "If you select me, I will do the very best job I can for 2 years and 4 months and I will help you recruit good candidates," he says.

Some candidates say they're running because of issues close to their heart, like raises for teachers, discrimination, and diversity.  "Y'all must really love our kids because you haven't had a raise in over 6 years and you're still here," says Ryan Wood.

"I believe education is our best offense against discrimination whether that comes from race, gender, family composition, or socioeconomic circumstances," says Debbie Esslinger.

"I will admit this board and its members have done an admirable job but I would be remiss if I didn't attempt to fill a void, and this void is a lack of cultural diversity," says Brian Primm.

The eligible candidates are:

Jesse Hutchens

Matthew Cleveland

Nathan Curry

Debbie Esslinger

Rhonda Rose Caskin

Rich McAdams

Tommy Ledbetter

Brian Primm

Ryan Wood

Matt Bennett

Tom Brandon

Anthony Sticker

After each candidate spoke, the board met during an executive session to pick their finalists. They will be interviewed Wednesday. The final decision will be announced at the conclusion of Thursday's regular School Board meeting.