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Brink pulls out of Hillsborough School Board race

TAMPA — Charles Brink, the businessman-turned-education advocate, is not running for the Hillsborough County School Board after all.

Brink, 61, said Wednesday that serving on the board would conflict with his family's nonprofit foundation, which in recent years has assumed a watchdog role in its relationship with the school district.

"My foundation will be redoubling its efforts. No one's seen anything yet," said Brink, who also plans to support Charlie Crist in his bid to unseat Gov. Rick Scott.

Brink, who loaned his campaign $65,000 but did not spend any of it beyond filing fees, earned his money as co-founder of the Mona Vie beverage company.

After he sold his interest, he and his family established the Brink Foundation to help lower-income schools in the Town 'N Country area. Brink said questions he asked about the Advanced Placement classes at Leto High School — and a contentious conversation with superintendent MaryEllen Elia — prompted him to shift his focus from pure philanthropy to advocacy.

In addition to criticizing Elia's administration about everything from budget transparency to exceptional student education, the Brink family has donated $5,000 over the years to School Board candidates who opposed the administration.

He denied being an enemy of the district, as he is sometimes portrayed. "We don't see this as adversarial," he said. "We are not their enemies, but we are not their friends either."

Brink's departure leaves nine candidates in the race to represent District 6, a countywide seat that April Griffin will leave in November. Also in play are seats in South Tampa and eastern Hillsborough, which are being vacated by Candy Olson and Stacy White.

Brink said he does not yet know who he will support.

Brink pulls out of Hillsborough School Board race 02/19/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 9:26pm]
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