Communication is the watchword of Republican Richard Drankwalter's bid for the District 5 School Board seat. For Democratic candidate Susan Cooper, it is total dedication to being a School Board member.
"I have my full time to devote to the job," said Cooper, 35, a part-owner with her two brothers of Lake Oriole Ranch in Brooksville.
Cooper, a member of Eastside Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Organization for three years, ranks what she calls skyrocketing administration expenditures and a lack of community participation in school decisions as the district's biggest problems.
The novice campaigner, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the Republican Party for a month earlier this year, became involved in the public schools when her son entered kindergarten.
She moved to Brooksville in 1982 after several years of working in the Miami area in social work and planning.
Like Drankwalter, Cooper says the current School Board is out of touch with the needs of the community.
"The School Board listens, but it doesn't respond," she said.
Drankwalter, 46, is a Lutheran minister in Brooksville who moved to the area three years ago.
Like Cooper, Drankwalter is an officer in the Hernando County Youth Association.
Although his career has involved frequent moves _ he has had pulpits in Pennsylvania, Illinois and New York _ he says he is ready to remain in Hernando County "for the duration."
His minister's schedule, he adds, will give him ample time to devote to the job.
Drankwalter says his most impressive job credential is his ability to listen and communicate, qualities he says are sorely needed on the board.
"I've been in the people business for 20 years," he said.
The two candidates are vying for the seat of School Board Chairman Don Hensley, who did not seek re-election.
_ TED GOLDMAN
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 5 includes northeast Hernando County east of County Road 491 and north of State Road 50. School Board members are paid $17,332 a year.
RICHARD DRANKWALTER, 46, the minister at Christ Lutheran Church in Brooksville, grew up in Queens, N.Y. He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Queens and Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Ind., and received bachelor's and master's degrees in divinity from Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Ill. Before moving to Hernando County three years ago, he was pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek, N.Y. He is treasurer of the Hernando County Youth Association. He is married and has two children. ASSETS: House, mutual funds, bank account. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, two personal loans. INCOME: Minister's salary.
SUSAN COOPER, 35, a former United Way planner in Dade County, moved to Brooksville in 1982. She has been a volunteer at her church and a member of the Parent-Teacher Organization for three years. She received a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Tulane University in 1977 and a master's degree in social work from Barry College School of Social Work in Miami three years later. Cooper is vice president of the Hernando County Youth Association. She is married and has three children. ASSETS: Savings account, home, one-third interest in ranch. LIABILITIES: None. INCOME: Husband's salary.