Sunday, January 21, 2018
Education

Three more candidates join District 7 Pinellas School Board race

The race to fill Lew Williams' vacant Pinellas County School Board seat has attracted three more candidates, expanding the field to four.

Cassandra Jackson, Keisha Bell and Corey Givens Jr. have announced their intent to run for the south Pinellas seat. St. Petersburg City Council member Rene Flowers, 47, also wants to represent District 7 and kicked off her campaign in February.

Glenton Gilzean Jr., 30, who Gov. Rick Scott appointed to fill the vacancy left by Williams' death, has not yet announced if he will run.

Though School Board terms typically last four years, the person elected to fill the remainder of Williams' term will serve until 2014. Candidates have until noon on June 8 to qualify for the Aug. 14 primary election. Here's a look at the three new candidates:

Keisha Bell

Bell, 37, is a St. Petersburg attorney who ran for the seat in 2010 against Williams and fellow challenger Jim Jackson. Bell lost in the three-person primary with 27 percent of the vote but endorsed Williams in his winning bid for the seat.

She has been involved in Pinellas Education Foundation's Florida Next Generation Learning initiative and is a board member at James B. Sanderlin Elementary's family center.

Cassandra Jackson

Jackson, 52, is a paraprofessional at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg who has twice run unsuccessfully for St. Petersburg City Council.

Jackson draws on her varied experience as a Gibbs High School parent and educational activist serving on committees such as the District Monitoring and Advisory Committee, a court-created organization charged with monitoring the district's activities regarding racial equity, and the St. Petersburg NAACP's education committee.

Corey Givens Jr.

A 2010 graduate of Lakewood High in St. Petersburg, Givens said he feels uniquely qualified to tackle the weighty issues facing the district's youth, including glaring achievement disparities between black and white students.

"I feel like if anyone knows what the students of Pinellas County need, it's someone who has been there recently," said Givens, who turns 20 on Wednesday. He is pursuing at bachelor's degree in political science at the University of South Florida. While at Lakewood, he served as president of the Pinellas County Student Rights and Responsibilities committee as well as class president.

Givens said he has been active in local campaigns including those for state Rep. Darryl Rouson, Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch and former state chief financial officer Alex Sink.

Reach Rebecca Catalanello at (727) 893-8707 or [email protected]

 
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