Friday, January 19, 2018
Politics

Hernando School Board member withdraws from race; familiar name jumps in

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County School Board member Dianne Bonfield has decided to not seek re-election to a third term.

After decades of service as a teacher, a substitute and a board member, "and that to me has been the icing on the cake to serve on the board,'' Bonfield said, "I've given it my all, but it's time to retire.''

Even with her withdrawal, there are still just as many candidates in the field for the District 3 seat because, also on Monday, Jay Rowden filed to run for the seat. He is the husband of District 3 county Commissioner Diane Rowden.

Bonfield, 65, said it has been an honor and a challenge serving on the board, and she is pleased to have played a part in the planning and opening of three new schools. Bonfield, who taught for 28 years, won her first term in 2006.

She immediately threw her support behind Rowden.

"I've known Jay and his wife for many, many years, and I would hope that the people who have in the past supported me would look at Jay very, very positively,'' Bonfield said. "I endorse him as a very strong candidate to fill the District 3 seat.''

Rowden, 70, is making his first run at a public office, though he is no stranger to politics. He served from 2004 to 2008 as chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee and has also served as state committeeman several times. School Board seats are nonpartisan.

Retired from a heavy equipment brokering business, he said he has always cared about school district issues and he hoped that he could help move the district to a more global education approach and a more collaborative one with other local governmental bodies.

He said Bonfield called to say she was looking to step back from the job and retire and wondered if the Rowdens could find a suitable replacement. They tried, he said, but then, "I looked in the mirror one day and said, why not, so here I am.''

Another potential candidate for the seat had been considering a run, but said Monday that he was no longer interested in the seat. Former superintendent Bryan Blavatt said he wanted to focus instead on a new job opportunity.

The other announced candidate vying for the seat is Elizabeth Narverud, a former Hernando County Education Foundation director and the owner of several Domino's Pizza stores in Hernando and Pasco.

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