Carpenter, a Republican with notable independence from the party line, disclosed his intentions in a letter Tuesday to commission chairman Sidney Chism, the man whom he had expected to succeed this year. Carpenter had spent the past year as vice chair, and the tradition had been that the vice chair of one party succeeded the chairman of another at the beginning of each new fiscal year.
Democrat Chism, however, decided that he wanted to serve as chair for a second consecutive year and was able to do so by means of votes from both Democratic colleagues and Republicans who felt estranged from Carpenter because of his independent tendencies.
First elected in 2006 and handily reelected in 2010 over a well-financed Republican opponent supported by his party adversaries, Carpenter had immersed himself in numerous committee tasks, especially those which concerned education and fiscal reform. He had most recently been serving as chairman of the commission’s budget and finance committee.
After the election of then Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton as Mayor of Memphis in 2009, Carpenter served on Wharton’s transition committee and was considered for some time to be a strong contender for the job of CAO in the Wharton administration.
Carpenter, a resident of Cordova, had been employed for several years as President of the West Tennessee Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, a post which he presumably will be vacating.
Following is the statement released by Carpenter on Tuesday about his new plans;
Carpenter to Join StudentsFirst as Tennessee State Director
-A Statement from Mike Carpenter-
(Memphis) “Today, I am announcing that I am resigning from the County Commission effective October 1st to join StudentsFirst as Tennessee state director and relocating to the Nashville area. StudentsFirst is a non-partisan, not-for-profit founded and led by former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, Michelle Rhee, to respond to the growing demand for a better education system in America.”
“During my time on the County Commission, I have advocated for children and families and believe that with the support of my colleagues, we have improved the lives of Memphis and Shelby County children. This new role is a natural extension of that work, because it will allow me to be an advocate for the kind of educational reform that can transform the lives of children throughout Tennessee for generations to come.”
“I have been inspired by the work of Students First in building a strong grass roots organization of parents, teachers and elected officials in Tennessee and the significant role the organization played in championing many of the education reforms passed by the Tennessee General Assembly this year. For too long in our state and our nation, the education system has pitted the interests of adults against the best interests of children. I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of a movement that seeks to put children above all else.”
“I want to thank my colleagues on the Commission and Mayors Wharton and Luttrell for their leadership and willingness to collaborate with me for the good of our community. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to my supporters, neighbors and constituents in District 1 for entrusting me with the immense responsibility of representing them.”