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JCTA's Political Action Committee Endorses Four Jefferson County School Board Candidates

Four candidates vying for seats on the Jefferson County board of education have the endorsement of the Better Schools Kentucky PAC, an extension of the Jefferson County Teachers Association.Brent McKim, the JCTA president, said on Tuesday the political action committee of the teacher’s union will support Diane Porter (District 1), Linda Duncan (District 5), Stephanie Horne (District 3) and Lisa Willner (District 6) during their campaigns for Jefferson County school board.Porter is an incumbent running unopposed for the District 1 seat.  Linda Duncan is the District 5 incumbent, but facing opposition from David Hittle and Richard Brown.  Stephanie Horne is a first-time candidate for school board and is looking to fill the District 3 seat that incumbent Debbie Wesslund is stepping away from this year.  Lisa Willner is aiming to replace incumbent Carol Haddad as a representative of the school district’s District 6.As WFPL previously reported, Willner publicly announced her endorsement from Better Schools Kentucky after being contacted by the PAC in late August.On Tuesday, Willner said the endorsement can boost  “name recognition” in the District 6 race.“I think having that endorsement from the teachers will raise people’s awareness of who I am and what I am about,” Willner said.Haddad was first elected to the Jefferson County school board in 1976.  Also running for the District 6 seat is Patrick Henry Hughes and John DeFazio.The teachers union PAC supported Haddad during her 2006 bid for school board, spending just more than $52,000. The PAC did not endorse Haddad in 2010.McKim said the decision to support Willner over Haddad this year came after a series of interviews with District 6 candidates. The endorsement committee ultimately decided on Willner “based on her commitment to addressing the many issues raised by State Auditor Adam Edelen's investigation of JCPS.”“The committee felt Lisa Willner would move more assertively to act on the audit findings,” he said in an email.The JCTA endorsement committee consists of 12 JCTA members. Duncan said an endorsement from the teacher’s union is a valuable asset to have during a school board election campaign.  She said not only does the PAC have the ability to reach more doorsteps and mailboxes, the endorsement goes beyond the mailers and billboards.“I don’t know that I would be so excited about running if I did not have their support, because these are the people that have to make everything happen,” Duncan said. But as previously reported, support from JCTA, the representing body of more than 6,000 JCPS teachers, does not guarantee a victory.In 2012 Lloyd White was endorsed by Better Schools Kentucky but was defeated in the District 4 race by current board member Chuck Haddaway, who at the time was backed by The Bluegrass Fund. The Bluegrass Fund was created to campaign for candidatesseparate from those backed by the teachers union’s PAC.Haddaway, along with David Jones Jr. (District 3) and Chris Brady (District 7) will not be up for reelection this year.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.