MEMPHIS, TN - Two minutes. That's how much time each candidate interviewing for a seat on the new countywide school board was given to promote themselves in front of the Shelby County Commission.
They had 120 seconds to tell the commission why they deserve a seat on the new mega board that will soon govern Memphis City and Shelby County school systems.
Commissioner Terry Roland set the tone in commission chambers early on, letting the candidates know the process won't be easy.
"I'm going off issue," he says, "to see if you're a hypocrite or not."
One of the candidates was John Underwood. He went face to face with the commissioners and stood up to their verbal barrage. The questioning got confrontational at times, but Underwood remained resolute.
"If you can't stand in front of 10 to 13 people with an audience," he tells abc24.com, "you shouldn't think you're the right person for the job."
Candidate Michelle Robinson-McKissack believes she is the right person for the job. She thinks it says a lot that so many people want to serve on the new school board as it helps lead the two districts toward consolidation.
"That means there are a lot of people who are really, really interested in the children of Shelby County," she says.
Commissioners will meet Monday, September 12, 2011, to make their seven appointments. The new school board takes effect on October 1st.