Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kenny Blankenship wins race for Pasco school employees' union presidency

LAND O'LAKES — Kenny Blankenship had butterflies as he watched the Supervisor of Elections staff count ballots.

He faced a tight race for the United School Employees of Pasco presidency against teacher of the year Pat Connolly, who had raised several critical questions about the union's management, to which Blankenship belonged. A 25 percent turnout threatened to narrow the margins.

In the end, Blankenship squeaked by with 54 percent of the 896 valid ballots cast.

"I'm not happy with the turnout, but I am satisfied with the results," he said, targeting improved membership and activism as one of his key goals for the next three years.

Retiring USEP president Lynne Webb, who held the post for 15 years, said low turnout is common in these elections. Unlike contract ratifications, which are held in every work site, this vote occurs by mail, which limits participation, she said.

She also expected a close vote for the open seat, saying such elections are "almost never a landslide." In her first election, Webb ran against four opponents and missed avoiding a runoff by 11 votes.

After taking the helm, Webb reached out to the other candidates to include them in her committees and leadership. Blankenship, 54, said he will do the same.

"I want to meet with Pat or anyone else who has a different point of view and work with those concerns or issues that have been raised," he said. "I think we all share the same goal of keeping USEP a vital force."

Connolly wrote on a message board shortly after the results were announced that he wished the new executive board well.

Blankenship said he also wanted to find a way to reintroduce more collaborative decision-making with the district, "like we had under John Long."

"Our teachers and SRP (school-related personnel) have not felt over the last eight years or so that there has been a truly collaborative model of working together to accomplish goals," he said.

District employee relations director Betsy Kuhn said she looked forward to working with Blankenship and the rest of the leadership team.

The other newly elected union leaders include Gay Kennedy as vice president-SRP, Lee Kulikauskas as vice president-teachers and Cheryl Vinson as treasurer. Their terms begin June 1.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at

Kenny Blankenship wins race for Pasco school employees' union presidency 03/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 12:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Unemployed with a pre-existing condition, Republican David Jolly came to see Obamacare as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108