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Published Oct. 18, 2005

Should a School Board member be more familiar with the workings of a multimillion-dollar budget or the day-to-day grind of a schoolteacher? That question is central to the District 3 School Board race, which pits Republican Jeff Stabins, who taught history three years at Hernando High School, against Democrat Nancy Gordon, a Southern Bell employee and engineer who has retired after 29 years with the company in Brooksville.

Stabins, 30, a Watertown, N.Y., native who attended three other colleges before graduating from the State University of New York at Albany in 1983, moved to the county in 1987 after several years as a special education teacher in New York. He also has a master's degree in education.

Stabins favors giving school district workers and other non-administrative staff members more say in School Board decisions. He has been endorsed by the district's new blue-collar union.

But the much larger teachers union gave its endorsement to Gordon, despite Stabins' membership in the union while a teacher at Hernando High.

Gordon, 56, started her career at Southern Bell as a telephone operator and worked her way up the ranks.

She spent the past 12 years there in management and has promoted her experience as an administrator as her most important qualification for School Board.

Like Stabins, she favors opening School Board decision-making and has proposed forming a permanent advisory council.

The council, which would include residents from throughout the county, would counsel board members and offer advice on school issues.

Stabins has criticized the current school administration repeatedly for being top-heavy with administrators and has said he would promote more efficient spending of tax dollars.

"We're taxing the people enough, but we're not spending it on the right things," he said.



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 1 includes a small area generally south of State Road 50, bordering Mariner Boulevard. School Board members are paid $17,332 a year.


NANCY GORDON, 56, recently retired as a senior management engineer for long-range planning at Southern Bell in Brooksville. She graduated from Edison High School in Miami and moved to Hernando County 30 years ago. Gordon joined the telephone company as a long-distance operator after high school. She is divorced and has three children. ASSETS: Stock, bonds, management savings program, home. LIABILITIES: Loans, mortgage. INCOME: Southern Bell salary, rent, interest, dividends.


JEFF STABINS, 30, a native of Watertown, N.Y., took a leave of absence as a history teacher at Hernando High School to run for the School Board. Stabins has been girls golf coach at Hernando High for two seasons. He moved to Hernando County three years ago. Stabins is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and has a master's degree from St. Lawrence University. He has taught at Hernando High three years. He is single. ASSETS: Mutual funds, savings. LIABILITIES: None. INCOME: Savings from teaching salary.