Metro school board candidate under fire for social media posts - WSMV Channel 4

Metro school board candidate under fire for social media posts

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Jackson Miller (WSMV) Jackson Miller (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A candidate for the Metro Nashville Public School board is under fire, answering questions about tweets using language some might consider offensive.

Jackson Miller is running in District 7, which covers south Nashville. While Miller apologized for some of his past statements, he also said he’s the target of a character assassination and a nasty campaign.

Miller is running against Will Pinkston, an outspoken incumbent on the school board and a figure often described as polarizing.

During this race, Miller has presented himself as his foil. In fact, Miller’s own motto is to be brave and to be kind. That’s why he said he’s agreeing to answer questions about his past.

Over the past nine years, Miller has tweeted more than 19,000 times.

But it's a fraction of those tweets generating concern over who is truly behind the avatar.

Some of the tweets include terms such as “MILF” and “slut.” In one tweet from 2013, he wrote, “Sounds like the ghetto Kroger is living up to its name tonight. A baby daddy stabbed his baby momma in the parking lot.”

Several years earlier in 2007, Miller tweeted, “checking kids candy for poisoning is retarded. It doesn’t happen. We won’t be following that tradition in my house…”

“Absolutely that was a bad call of judgment,” Miller said. “And so I’ve said so and I've apologized for that and also I've changed my behavior."

The tweets resurfaced on social media last week with a post made by Chelle Baldwin, whose daughter has a disability.

“Guess what Jackson? MNPS has LOTS of children like my daughter,” Baldwin wrote. “Children who are diagnosed with an intellectual disability or a learning disability.”

Miller said the use of the word ‘retarded’ was wrong and offensive, but that people are taking other tweets out of context.

In 2008, Miller wrote, “BTW- Hillary ain’t never been called a n*****.”

Miller said he was quoting a minister who supported then-Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“Is it a good judgment to write that word ever? Probably not. Was it good judgment on Obama’s pastor’s part to say it? Probably not. Was it good judgment on my part to repeat it? Probably not. Is it an important conversation that we should be having? It is. Is it the kind of bravery in that conversation that more leaders should have? It absolutely is,” Miller said.

“So you're calling this, the ability to tweet about this, bravery?" asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“I'm talking about the ability to talk about race openly, yes, absolutely, that is bravery,” Miller replied.

“If an African-American student saw these tweets, how do you think that would make them feel?" asked Autler.

“That’s a great question, and that's why I say it was probably poor judgment to put that out there and repeat that,” Miller said. “It's also why I am now going through and deleting things that taken out of context eight years later would be inappropriate.”

But questions have been raised beyond Miller's social media use. In 2011, his ex-wife filed a motion over unpaid child support.

Three years later, she filed another motion over more than $9,400 in overdue payments. The state charged Miller with criminal contempt.

But a judge eventually dismissed the charge after the parties reached an agreement.

Miller denied he ever failed to pay.

“My agreement with my ex-wife is that I would pay her directly and so they have no record of payments because it was not through the state,” he said. “The only avenue they had for seeing if I'm current is to make that charge you’re talking about."

But Jackson has also faced other orders to pay up. These payments include more than $11,000 to Discover, more than $1,100 to Vanderbilt Medical Group, and more than $9,000 to the company TruMist, LLC.

Miller was supposed to develop a prayer app for TruMist but “performed zero work on the app,” according to court filings.

He wrote that venture off as a loss over a small claim.

“If this task couldn't have been completed, how is it possible to handle a multi-million dollar budget for Metro Schools?” Autler asked. “You're going to be making big decisions involving that amount of money, and this is a small amount of money.”

“I hear what you’re saying,” Miller said. “And that’s the case my opponent would like to make. I understand my business does not have as many as millions of dollars in its budget as Metro Schools, but I manage a multi-million dollar budget every day.”

Miller touts himself as an entrepreneur and a longtime software developer. He also owns three franchises of the store Plato's Closet.

The candidate said the very history some criticize is the kind of history that makes him relatable.

On Monday Miller's campaign released a video featuring his ex-wife.

Miller admitted he asked her to make the statement. In the video, Miller’s ex-wife, Sabrina, indicated the rhetoric about their personal life has hurt their children.

“Personal and private details of our divorce, things I think don’t have any bearing on this election, have been publicized so it’s really impacted my kids,” Sabrina said.

“So I felt like I needed to say something and that’s that I support Jackson. I think throughout the campaign, he's stayed positive and he’s shown the things he can and will do for the community and the kids and the schools.”

Miller blamed Pinkston for circulating information about his past, calling him a “black ops communication specialist.”

While Pinkston does work as a communication consultation, he denied Miller’s accusations.

“I’m not dispatching anyone to do anything,” Pinkston said in a phone interview Tuesday.

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