BROOKSVILLE — Familiarity may have tipped the balance Tuesday for longtime resident James C. Yant, who topped Gene Magrini by a comfortable margin in the race for a seat on the Hernando County School Board.
With all precincts reporting at 9:30 p.m., Yant held a lead of more than 4,000 votes in the contest to replace the retiring Jim Malcolm in District 4.
"It helps a lot to know people, and for them to know who we are and what we stand for," said Yant, 61. "A lot of the votes came from trust."
He said his emphasis on boosting parental and community involvement resonated with voters.
Magrini, a human resources executive, networked with a vengeance, gaining key endorsements from the teachers union as well as county Realtors and builders groups. Even Malcolm, a 16-year veteran on the board, gave him the nod.
But Magrini, 43, said his emphasis on budget scrutiny and support for magnet school programs may not have caught the attention of average voters, particularly in a busy election cycle. "You have a certain core of folks who are interested and pay attention and have a stake," he said. "For others, it's not the hot-button issue."
If Magrini sought a wholesale approach to the campaign, Yant worked retail, banking on the personal and business associations he forged over 35 years in Hernando County as a high school guidance counselor and insurance agency owner.
"I have 5,000 policyholders, and they have friends," Yant said. "If you get one person, they probably know five or six other people they'll talk to."
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431.