The Phoenix Flyer

FL Democratic Party releases its own list of endorsements in school board races

By: - August 1, 2022 6:44 pm

A member of Moms for Liberty speaks at a rowdy Sarasota County School Board meeting in August 2021, to oppose an emergency mask mandate. Screenshot, Sarasota School District broadcast channel.

The Florida Democratic Party has issued endorsements in local school board races, joining a politicization of these ostensibly nonpartisan positions begun by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Party chairman Manny Diaz announced endorsements in 18 races in 13 counties.

“Florida’s public education system needs help right now. Our governor is playing politics with our children,” Diaz said.

Manny Diaz, chairman, Florida Democratic Party. Credit: FlaDems

“We need to elect school board members who believe that public education is the bedrock of the American dream, and that public education must afford every child the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, to be responsible citizens, and participate in a competitive global economy,” in a written statement.

DeSantis has endorsed at least 16 candidates in school board races, saying in a tweet: “It’s crucial we elect strong candidates who are committed to advancing our pro-parent, student-first education agenda in FL. These candidates will ensure our students succeed, protect parental rights in education, & combat the woke agenda from infiltrating our public schools.”

The governor has spearheaded initiatives sharply restricting discussion of systemic racism, sexual orientation, and gender identity under his “parental rights” rubric.

He battled with school boards that tried to impose mask mandates for schoolchildren to try to protect them against COVID infections, arguing such measures were unnecessary but constituted an abuse of power. The backlash to those efforts spawned Moms for Liberty, which is organizing around this year’s school board elections.

Charlie Crist, a Democratic congressman seeking his party’s nomination against DeSantis, has also issued a slate of school board endorsements.

Here are the Democratic Party’s endorsements by county:

  • Alachua: Sarah Rockwell, Prescott Cowles; Diyonne McGraw; Tina Certain.
  • Brevard: Kimberly Hough.
  • Escambia: Ray Guillory
  • Hillsborough: Damaris Allen, Karen Perez
  • Indian River: Cindy Gibbs
  • Lee: Gwynetta Gittens
  • Miami-Dade: Maribel Balbin
  • Osceola: Teresa “Terry ” Castillo
  • Pinellas: Brian Martin
  • Polk: Sara Estelle Jones
  • Santa Rosa: Gregory Seltzer
  • Johns: Lauren Townsend Abell
  • Volusia: Ruben Colon, Justin Kennedy District 3

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.