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Onetime backer now a Hillsborough school board candidate

TAMPA — Long a backer of reform-minded school board candidates, Charles R. Brink is now a declared candidate for the Hillsborough County board.

Brink, 60, filed his papers July 23, joining 14 others vying for three open seats in 2014.

He could not be reached for comment Monday, and he does not often speak publicly on his concerns about education.

But Jose Colindres, the chief operating officer of Brink's charitable foundation, delivers an address at almost every school board meeting about the need for more transparency and accountability in the district.

Brink and members of his family, meanwhile, have backed candidates who were critical of the administration of superintendent MaryEllen Elia with $5,000 in contributions since 2010. That list includes board members April Griffin and Cindy Stuart, as well as Henry Ballard, a former district manager who was unsuccessful in unseating incumbent Doretha Edgecomb in 2012.

Brink told the Tampa Bay Times in a 2012 interview that he is mostly retired from the beverage business he co-founded, MonaVie. He used the proceeds when he sold his interest to establish the Brink Foundation, which has its local office near his Westchase home.

He said the organization's focus shifted from philanthropy at lower-income schools to activism when he became aware of inequities between schools and what he saw as flaws in the district's management.

Brink is one of seven candidates in the race for the at-large District 6 seat that will be vacated by chairwoman April Griffin, who is running for Hillsborough County Commission.

That group also includes John G. Evon, Alison McGillivray Fernandez, Kim Miller, Russ Patterson, Dipa Shah and Randy Toler. Shah, an attorney, has raised the most money in the group at $5,651.

Of the 15, insurance agent Melissa Snively in Brandon is the frontrunner with $21,500.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com.

Onetime backer now a Hillsborough school board candidate 07/29/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 12:02am]
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