Third candidate files for Pinellas School Board election seat
A third candidate has filed to run for incumbent Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook's seat in the upcoming election.
Mike Petruccelli, 69-year-old licensed real estate and insurance broker from Indian Shores, announced his candidacy last week for the District 5 seat, which covers the central portion of the county, encompassing parts of Clearwater and Largo.
The Dixie Hollins High School alumnus of the class of 1965 said many teachers he knows personally are fed up with the profession because of the school board's bureacracy and that the achievement gap continues to grow, sparking his desire to try to shake things up on the school board.
"If half of what people are telling me are true about historically what has taken place over the past five years, personally, I’m surprised there hasn’t been some resignations," he said.
Petruccelli admitted that he has not done any research to vet these claims, just "casual reading," and that he does not know Cook's track record on the board. He said his 30-year career in real estate has taught him that common sense is key.
"I believe that I can contribute, if nothing else, common sense and honesty and address the issues without being frightened about some blowback," he said.
Petruccelli is no stranger to public office. He ran for mayor of St. Petersburg in 1993 but only received 2 percent of the vote. In 2006, he entered the race for a state representative seat as a Republican but lost. He won his first election in 2014 by just two votes, earning him a spot on the Indian Shores Town Council where he currently serves.
All three of his adult children attended Pinellas County public schools, as did seven of his grandchildren who live in Florida. Petruccelli says between the late 1970s and early 1980s he served as Parent Teacher Association president of Child's Park Fundamental Elementary, Tyrone Elementary and Boca Ciega High School as well as a youth volunteer football coach.
Petruccelli will face opponents Eliseo Santana Jr., a 57-year-old retired communications maintenance supervisor, and Cook, who has been on the school board since 2000 and is seeking her fifth term, on the August primary election ballot. Santa and Cook filed their election paperwork earlier this month.
In addition to Cook's District 5 seat, two other School Board races will be on the 2016 ballot. In September, board member Ken Peluso was the first to file for reelection. He represents District 4, which covers north county areas, including Tarpon Springs, East Lake and Palm Harbor. School Board member Janet Clark has yet to file for reelection for her at-large District 1 seat.