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Donna Munsen opts for political venture as a neophyte, running for Pasco School Board

If you're aiming for change, waving a sign only gets you so far.

It could be the motto of Donna Munsen of Hudson. Not that the Pasco Patriot and April 15 tea-party planner got much of a chance to wave a sign on the day she and her fellow protesters gathered outside Gulf View Square mall.

She didn't even make a sign. No time. She spent her energy on logistics and trying to keep people out of harm's way as they mingled near U.S. 19. And she didn't even attend a repeat of the effort on Independence Day.

No matter. The tax day protester is turning political hopeful. Munsen, 53, filed candidacy papers this week to run for the District 5 Pasco School Board seat held by Frank Parker.

Certainly irony is now on the School Board vocabulary list. Munsen, a self-described fiscal conservative who believes the public's money is being misspent, is challenging an incumbent who is a self-described fiscal conservative who fights to make sure the public's money isn't misspent.

"I'm probably more conservative than he is,'' Munsen said.

"Well, guess what?'' countered Parker. "It doesn't matter, my dear, because the state Legislature tells you what to do.''

Indeed. The Pasco School Board could be looking at a tax rate increase of up to a half-mill just to meet the state-mandated local effort. Munsen's grass roots are in Pasco, but the weeding is needed in Tallahassee.

Parker, incidentally, said he hasn't decided whether he will run for re-election in 2010 and doesn't expect to gear up until after Jan. 1 if he does.

(Parker's seat isn't the only one to draw activity. Mary Scicchitano filed candidacy papers for the District 3 School Board seat held by wayward board member Cathi Martin on May 1. Scicchitano loaned her campaign $5,000, bought two tickets to the Republican Executive Committee's Reagan Day dinner fundraiser and began penning letters to the newspaper critical of the incumbent. On Tuesday, she pulled the plug on her campaign, sending a letter to the Pasco Supervisor of Elections Office that said developing personal and professional opportunities would preclude a campaign.)

School Board seats are nonpartisan, but that doesn't stop heavy involvement from the local political parties.

In District 5, Parker is a Republican. Munsen said she also is a registered Republican "but I'm about ready to change that because I'm fed up with them, too.''

The Pasco Patriots are 211 people strong, according to their Web site, but Munsen acknowledged that alone won't get her on the ballot and she doesn't plan to tap that group, anyway.

But she is going after like-minded people. The ones complaining about the status quo, or waste in government, or career politicians, or, as Munsen put it, "regular people who've been screaming at their TV for the past 10 years need to be involved.''

Raised a military brat, she moved to Florida 25 years ago. Married with no children, she is now a full-time caregiver for her 79-year-old mother. She's been secretary for the Beacon Woods East Homeowner's Association and is an active volunteer with her church.

Political involvement is a new thing. She doesn't attend Pasco School Board meetings, but said she keeps abreast reading online versions of newspaper accounts. There are familiar refrains to her beliefs: End frivolous spending, get more money to teachers, increase parent involvement.

Her candidacy, she said, is an extension of the grass roots work with the tea party protests.

"With the Patriots, it was like, 'Now what?' We're not going to stand around and hold signs every weekend. We have to get actively involved. I think this is one way to get actively involved.''

Involvement and a certain level of naivete as well.

"I don't have a crew of people. I don't have a lot of money. I don't really know how to fundraise,'' she admitted. "I'm just going to have to be creative.''

A political neophyte.

"That's me,'' said Munsen.

And proud of it.

Donna Munsen opts for political venture as a neophyte, running for Pasco School Board 07/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 4:49pm]
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