Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Union snub stings Pinellas School Board hopefuls

Teachers running for the Pinellas County School Board are miffed they didn't win backing from what would seem a natural ally: the local teachers union.

The union's political action committee announced last week it was endorsing incumbent Linda Lerner over middle school teacher Brian Hawley and retired principal Terry Krassner over high school math and science coach Fonda Huff.

The committee also endorsed incumbent Peggy O'Shea over Greg Hunsinger, who retired as a middle school teacher last year.

"To back incumbents in a time like this and to back former administrators seems a step away from their principles," said Hawley, a teachers union representative at Largo Middle School.

If all things were equal, the union would endorse teachers, countered union executive director Marshall Ogletree. But the committee looked at many factors, and Huff, Hawley and Hunsinger did not prove they were politically viable, he said.

"I'm not saying these people can't win, but the three teachers that spoke before the group lacked the viability element," he said. "They didn't have any keen idea of how they were going to develop their campaign and pay for it."

Four of seven School Board seats are up for grabs. The primary election is Aug. 24.

Lerner, Krassner and Lew Williams — a former district administrator who received the union nod in the District 7 race — are former teachers.

Hunsinger, the son of former School Board member Calvin Hunsinger, said the union and the public should want teachers on the board with fresher experience.

"It would be nice to have some information from the front lines as recently as you can," he said.

In 2008, the union endorsed incumbent Janet Clark, a former teacher, over other candidates in one of three races on the ballot. (It later rescinded the endorsement.) In the other two, it endorsed a former School Board member and a chiropractor over teachers.

Clark won. The other two did not.

Hawley serves on the union's government relations committee, though he said he has criticized union leadership over some of its decisions and how it communicates with members. He was also invited to serve on the political action committee but could not because, at the time, he was considering running for the School Board.

None of the teacher candidates said they thought the union endorsement of others would hurt them. Huff said it might help.

"By losing their support I have gained support by so many other individuals, especially teachers and the public," she said in an e-mail.

Ogletree would not go into specifics on the performance of individual candidates in the endorsement process. But he said that beyond the viability questions, "there were very good reasons we did what we did."

"In some places, the answers weren't there," he said. "Okay, they were a teacher or a retired teacher. I understand that. But they still have to make decisions and understand the issues. Some of them didn't do as good a job as others."

Ogletree said O'Shea has been a "decent School Board member." He said Lerner is "our best candidate."

"The fact is, she's an incumbent who's been supportive of teachers for a long time," he said.

In an e-mail to members, the union said Krassner and Williams "have extensive knowledge of the school district, its policies and its needs" and have shown a "willingness to work closely" with the union.

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

The lineup

Here's who's running for the four seats up for grabs on the Pinellas County School Board:

District 2: math/science coach Fonda Huff, retired principal Terry Krassner

District 3: incumbent Peggy O'Shea, retired teacher Greg Hunsinger

District 6: incumbent Linda Lerner, middle school teacher Brian Hawley

District 7: lawyer Keisha Bell, retired professor Jim Jackson, retired district administrator Lew Williams

Union snub stings Pinellas School Board hopefuls 07/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.

    Consumer

    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea

    World

    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  3. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property

    Retail

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  4. How should St. Pete make up for dumping all that sewage? How about a street sweeper?

    Blogs

    Every crisis has a silver lining.

    In the case of St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis, which spawned state and federal investigations and delivered a state consent decree ordering the city to fix a dilapidated sewer system, the upside is figuring out how to satisfy the $810,000 civil penalty levied by the Florida …

    City Council chairwoman Darden Rice said it was important to chose carefully because residents will be paying attention.
  5. A boy and a girl stare at the camera from their house after Hurrciane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Prss]