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There are similarities between the two candidates for the District 1 seat on the Hernando School Board, but only on the surface. Both are political newcomers about the same age; both moved to the county about five years ago; both have school-age children.

Otherwise, the candidates are poles apart.

Diane Rowden, 41, who changed her party affiliation to Democrat days before announcing her School Board bid, is a sharp critic of the school administration. Only one of her three school-age children attends public school in the county.

As the only Democratic candidate in District 1, she was able to sit out the primary in September.

Republican Beth Sanczel, 40, who survived the September primary and October runoff election to become her party's candidate, is a former teacher's aide with a long record of school volunteerism. Her two school-age children attend Hernando public schools.

Rowden and her husband founded People Organized as Watchdogs for Education and Responsibility (POWER), a local grass-roots organization that has opposed School Board decisions and served as a rallying point for those disenchanted with the school administration.

The two also formed a political action committee whose sole purpose was to thwart the re-election bid of School Board member Louise Boehme, the only incumbent board member up for re-election this year. Boehme lost in the primary.

Sanczel, on the other hand, campaigned for the election of school Superintendent Dan McIntyre in 1988.

She says a positive attitude is the best way to deal with school-related problems and that her school-related experience gives her an edge over her opponent. She has been an active PTA member for four years.

Sanczel has been criticized for accepting campaign contributions from the president of Coastal Engineering Associates, a local firm that recently won a $1.14-million School Board contract. But she says her contributors merely want the best candidate to win.

"My loyalties are to education," she said.

Rowden, who has been a flight attendant for 21 years, received $1,000 from Nick Morana, the candidate McIntyre defeated in 1988.



The five School Board members operate, control and supervise public schools in the county. The School Board is the county's largest employer, operating this year with a budget of $97-million. In this year's election, as a result of a recent circuit court decision, School Board candidates must declare their party affiliation. The elections had been non-partisan since the early 1970s. Three seats on the board are up for election. School Board members are required to live within geographic districts but are elected countywide. District 3 includes northwest Hernando County north of State Road 50 and west of County Road 491. School Board members are paid $17,332 a year.


DIANE ROWDEN, 41, a Delta Air Lines flight attendant for 21 years, grew up in Pinellas County and moved to Hernando County five years ago. She graduated from St. Petersburg High School and attended St. Petersburg Junior College. She is married and has three children. ASSETS: House, stock, checking and savings account, 74-acre macadamia farm in Hawaii. LIABILITIES: Two mortgages, home improvement loan. INCOME: Airline salary, rental property.


BETH SANCZEL, 40, a graphic artist at Joni Industries and a former teacher's aide, is a native of Wyandotte, Mich., and grew up in Ohio. She received her high school diploma from Lake County Vo-Tech and has attended Pasco-Hernando Community College. Last year, she was secretary of the Hernando County Council PTA and president of the Pine Grove Elementary School PTA. She is vice president of the First Federation of Republican Women in Hernando County. She is married and has five children. ASSETS: Home. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, two bank loans. INCOME: Earnings as graphic artist.