The Coastal Star

Along the Coast: Local School Board seats and judgeships on August primary ballots

By Steven J. Smith

    In southeastern Palm Beach County, the Aug. 26 primary elections will see six candidates compete for two School Board seats — Districts 4 and 7 — that represent a good deal of the county’s midsection.
    In addition to the School Board races, five candidates will vie for two judgeships on the 15th Judicial Circuit: Diana Lewis and Jessica Ticktin in Group 14 and Maxine Cheesman, Jaimie Goodman and Peggy Rowe-Linn in Group 30.
    Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said there will be one ballot question posed to voters in the Lake Worth area — a $63.5 million bond referendum to acquire and improve roadway, sidewalk, streetlight, streetscape, drainage and water and sewer facilities in the city.
    “There is also a Delray Beach question,” Bucher said. “Theirs is a charter change. … They had changed one of the provisions of their charter to require a super-majority for the city manager to be terminated. They now want to change it back to only a majority vote.”
    Bucher added her office is seeing an uptick in absentee ballot requests.
    “It’s higher than we’ve ever seen it before,” she said. “And we’re pleased to say we’ll open more early voting sites than we’ve ever had. We’ll have 14 in the primary election.”  
    For more information on ballot questions, candidates and voting sites, visit Early voting takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Aug. 11-24.

District 4 School Board candidates

Justin Katz
Personal: 30; bachelor’s from Florida Atlantic University in secondary  education; single.
Professional: Teacher at Park Vista High School.
School Board experience: None.
Position on issues: Raising student achievement and expectations; assuring safety of students and faculty; modernizing teacher training and professional development; offering more career academy choices; improving fiscal responsibility in the district; keeping district salaries competitive.
Quote: “I’d like to bring some firsthand experience from the classroom to the School Board so that we can better identify the problems that exist in the school system and better come up with practical solutions.”

Larry Rosensweig
Personal: 63; bachelor’s from Harvard and a master’s from the University of Michigan in Asian studies; married, two sons.
Professional: Consultant with not-for-profits, particularly museums and gardens.
School Board experience:  None.
Position on issues: Seeks to define School Board policies and budget allocations in terms of how they will benefit students. Wants to bring together the cultural and scientific communities in which he’s worked into a more proactive relationship with the school district.
Quote: “I strongly believe that America’s future — and our county’s future — is going to be based on creativity and innovation. I don’t think we’re teaching that or encouraging that currently in as strong a way as we should.”

Tom Sutterfield
Personal: 48; master’s degree from Georgia Tech in management and technology; married; three children.
Professional: Director of IT operations for the South Florida Water District.
School Board experience: None.
Position on issues: Wants to find a way to prosper under the district’s $2.37 billion budget without raising taxes and selling bonds to cover shortfalls.
Quote: “I am a big believer in school choice. We need to have lots of options, because we have a very diverse population. We need high standards for college fund students, and we also need to understand that every child is not college-bound. So we need to have more focus on trade schools and other options for them.”

Erica Whitfield
Personal: 36; bachelor’s in health science education from the University of Florida and a master’s in public health from Emory University; married; one child.
Professional: Wellness coordinator for the school food service department in the Palm Beach County School District.
School Board experience: None.
Position on issues: Believes a strong vision is required to direct the School Board to lead the district, which includes bringing physical education, music and art back into the curriculum.
Quote: “We need to make sure we’re educating the whole child. And I plan to focus on wellness. I’m also passionate about private and public partnerships for when we want to do things that are a little more adventurous and exciting within the district. I think we have a lot of really good resources in the community and I look forward to working with the district to tap into that.”

District 7 School Board candidates

Piaget “Peppi” Hendrix
Personal: 43; associate of arts with Faulkner University; bachelor’s in elementary education from Alabama A & M University; did graduate work at Nova Southeastern University; married, four children.
Professional: Elementary teacher in the Palm Beach County School District.
School Board experience: None.
Position on issues: Wants better focus on curriculum, primarily making sure students get foundational skills in reading, writing and mathematics.
Quote: “I want to make sure we have policies in place to make sure our students are learning, especially in reading. I also want to empower our parents to take back charge of their children’s education as well as giving them more say-so in decision processing. And I want our teachers to be autonomous so they can teach, and not be dictated to as to what to teach and how to teach.”

Debra L. Robinson
Personal: 57; bachelor’s of science and biology from Michigan State University; M.D. from Howard University; married, three children.
Professional: Physician at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
School Board experience: Has been on the School Board since 2000.
Position on issues: Two top priorities are (1) working with community partners to address the psycho social needs of children who may be grieving or suffering from trauma, and (2) creating success profiles that clearly outline the experiences and competencies of principals and administrators.
Quote: “My main goal if re-elected is to continue to increase the graduation rate.”

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