TAMPA — Voters in eastern Hillsborough County called for change on the School Board, and now they have it.
With all but one of the 69 precincts in District 4 reporting Tuesday night, pharmacist Stacy R. White stood on the verge of a clear victory over former principal Richard Bartels in his bid to win the seat once held by incumbent Jennifer Faliero.
"In listening to constituents out there on the campaign trail, it really seemed like they wanted to maintain the parents' perspective on the School Board," White said, explaining his apparent win.
The night wasn't all bad news for incumbents, as April Griffin cruised toward a comfortable victory over preschool owner Sally A. Harris to earn a second term in the District 6 countywide race.
"I think that in the climate we're in, I'm very satisfied with the wins I've had across the entire county," Griffin said, acknowledging the tough challenges candidates have faced on issues like the school calendar and the district's controversial number of early-release days.
Griffin raised more than six times as much money as Harris, who could not be reached for comment.
"I want to make sure that every child in the school district is put on the right path to success, and that we don't have a one-size-fits-all approach for all of our students," Griffin said, vowing to maintain her straight-talking approach.
Despite the apparent ease of Griffin's win, the candidates in eastern Hillsborough described a far more restive electorate.
"When I take a look at this thing, it's a Republican avalanche across the country," said Bartels, who described himself as a Democrat in the non-partisan race. "Had I been able to run countywide, it might have been a different story, but I'm running in a very conservative area."
White, who won the most votes in the August primary that toppled Faliero, said he would approach the job with a healthy dose of respect.
"I don't want to say that it's scary, but I acknowledge what an awesome responsibility it is," he said, vowing to get up to speed quickly. "I assure you I'm up to the task."