Pasco County school employees leaders face reelection challenge
The United School Employees of Pasco president and vice president-instructional both have drawn challenges to their reelection bids.
Gulf Middle School physical education teacher Don Peace, a member of the USEP executive board, has filed to run against first-term president Kenny Blankenship. Irvin Education Center learning design coach Phil Altshuler, also an executive board member, has turned in papers to oppose vice president Lisa Mazza, a third-grade teacher at Wesley Chapel Elementary.
The challenges come as the USEP has declared impasse in contract negotiations, contending the district adminstration has not bargained over salaries and related issues in good faith. Blankenship and superintendent Kurt Browning have frequently stood at odds over key matters, with the USEP fighting district actions on several fronts through a series of grievances.
Their working relationship has been tense, with Browning sometimes questioning the role and authority of the union and the collective bargaining process.
Blankenship said he was not entirely surprised to see someone seek the top spot from him. He remained positive, though, saying the conversation over issues, approach and ideas would be "good for the organization."
Vice president-school related personnel Lee Beville and secretary-treasurer Cheryl Vinson filed unopposed for new three-year terms in their seats.
The USEP will hold a candidate qualification meeting on Jan. 17. The campaign begins the following day, with ballots due between Feb. 23 and March 9.