Alaska board member: Browder could be "good fit"
FORT MYERS, Fla - As James Browder vies for the superintendent job in Alaska, he's facing tough questions about his time in Lee County and at Edison State College.
"Sometimes people don't like how you go about business," Browder told a packed house over the weekend at an Anchorage community meet-and-greet.
"I'm not abrasive," said Browder. " I'm pretty direct and I believe in doing my part to ensure that things are right."
The former Lee County superintendent is fighting back against criticism and that's helping his image with the Anchorage School District.
A week ago, school board member Don Smith told us he had concerns after receiving a dozen emails from Lee County residents opposed to Browder.
"Well, I'm more comfortable," Smith said by phone Monday after meeting Browder. "I think after having met him and listened to him explain things."
After two days of public and private meetings, Smith says he was impressed with Browder's experience, candidness and said he was "very knowledgeable" of the district.
"Do you feel that he would be a good fit for your school district?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Oh, I think he could be a good fit, yes, " said Smith.
As for those emails he has received?
"It wasn't like we had hundreds of people clamoring for his scalp," he said. "We had very frank discussions with him."
Smith says he can't comment on private discussions but noted Browder was very open about his time in Fort Myers.
"He said, 'I have some baggage. I have some issues that people didn't like about my time in Lee County,'" said Smith. "He tried to explain it. I thought he did a fair job of trying to bring people around."
Smith says Browder not only impressed him but that other board members and community members were also "very visibly impressed."
The board will begin deciding Browder's fate in a week. He is one of two finalists for the superintendent job.
Browder did not return our call for comment.