Editor's note: The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply.
Cynthia Armstrong, Pasco School Board, District 3
I have been in west Pasco County for more than 30 years, taught in Pasco County schools, at PHCC and at St. Pete College and this gives me a firm understanding of what our teachers go through daily. I have a bachelor's degree from Wake Forest University and a master's in education from USF. I have worked as a business owner for 20 years, was one of the first women in Pasco County to be invited to join Rotary and was a founding board member of Leadership Pasco.
I pledge to work diligently with our board and legislators to bring a long-term fix for funding. Since I arrived here in 1978 I have seen the majority of school funds shift from the state to the county and property taxes. This has left us counting on funding from a badly broken tax system. We must find an alternative and a more dependable source, such as sales tax, to fund education in Florida. We can no longer wait for someone to fix it for us. Our School Board must be a part of the solution.
If chosen for the School Board I will seek out groups and organizations and ask for their involvement in our school system. Throughout the campaign I have encountered people who said they just haven't been asked. I will work to get the message out and bring our community into our schools.
Mark Swartsel, Pasco School Board, District 5
When I entered this race, it was for one reason — to provide effective leadership to the School Board in order to improve our school system for the benefit of every child, which will ultimately make our society, and our country, stronger.
Throughout my lifetime as a Pasco County resident and businessman, I have immersed myself in various civic, trade and governmental appointed organizations. My first order of business was always to define how to make those organizations better and then to seek ways to do so. In each case, I have been elected to a leadership role and been recognized for various accomplishments that benefited those organizations.
My opponent has spent the last 24 years of his career as an assistant principal in our school system. He is an insider in the system who is heavily supported by unions throughout the state. With our schools facing a projected $46 million shortfall next year I have the outside business acumen to meet these budgetary challenges.
If elected, I pledge to spend whatever time is necessary to work with every member of our school system, and our local, state and national lawmakers, to bring about the changes necessary to make our school system the best that it can be.