By Steve Hunley

Mike McMillan was reelected to the Knox County Board of Education last week to a new four-year term.  McMillan defeated two opponents, Adam Brown and Leon Daugherty, finally winning with more than 57% of the vote.  The remarkable thing about McMillan’s victory was the fact he was unable to campaign personally, as he was recovering from a bout of flu and pneumonia that kept the veteran former county commissioner and board member bedridden for most of the election cycle.  McMillan was already recovering from having been successfully treated for throat and lung cancer, so his immune system had been seriously weakened when he caught the flu.

Well on the road to recovery, McMillan was elated by the results and thanked all of his campaign volunteers and the people of the Eighth District.

“I sure am grateful,” McMillan said.  “I have always tried hard to do all I can to be helpful to folks.  That’s been my philosophy as a member of the Knox County Board of Education.  I am the Eighth District’s voice on the board, not the board’s voice in the Eighth District.”

McMillan has won a well-deserved reputation for constituent service, following up with those residents of his district who contact him about any matter.  Along the way, Mike McMillan has also kept an eye on projects for his district.  It was McMillan who finally won the battle for a new Gibbs Middle School for that community after twenty-five years.  As then-mayor Tim Burchett said, “There would be no Gibbs Middle School without Mike McMillan.”

McMillan also fought for a new Carter Elementary School, as well as guiding extensive renovations for Carter Middle School.  It was Mike McMillan who led the charge to save the Career Magnet Academy in Straw Plains when superintendent Bob Thomas pondered closing it.  McMillan’s allies in that fight were the students who flooded Board members with emails and proved to be quite well spoken during the board’s public forum.  Modestly, McMillan gave the credit to the students.

Even while confined to a hospital bed, McMillan occupied himself by penning notes to constituents to thank them for any kindness.  Even while being treated for cancer, Mike McMillan did not miss any board meetings.  Frustrated while ill with pneumonia, McMillan grumbled about missing meetings.  Still, he kept his eye on anything he believed was important to the Eighth District.

“Their stories, their life stories, were incredibly compelling,” McMillan insisted.  “The change they illustrated in telling those stories couldn’t help but move a person.  A person would have to be heartless not to recognize just what those students had accomplished.”

At the time, McMillan expressed his concern that Thomas wanted to close the Career Magnet Academy.  “It was the school system who spent literally millions of dollars to get that school up and running, then they didn’t support it the way they should have and expressed surprise when it wasn’t doing better,” McMillan complained.

It was Mike McMillan who authored the amendment adopted by the board of education after months of contentious meetings to end discrimination in the schools.  Largely quiet and unassuming, Mike McMillan’s persistence, attention and devotion to the people who elected him paid off last week.  Realizing McMillan’s successes and effectiveness, the people chose to reelect him to another term.

“I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am and how much I appreciate it,” McMillan said.  “I will continue to do all I can for the folks who elected me and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”