The first handful of mud has been slung in the District 3 School Board race.
Challenger John Druzbick is sending fliers to county residents criticizing his opponent, Chairwoman Nancy Gordon, about her attendance at board meetings.
The illustration on the flier shows three people seated around a table talking. The seat at the head of the table is empty.
The sheet says Gordon has missed three times more regular School Board meetings than any other board member and often has failed to attend workshops.
Gordon has missed 10 meetings during the past four years. A check by the Times on Thursday showed that Susan Cooper, who was elected with Gordon to the School Board in 1990, has missed four meetings.
"If a child in our school system missed as many classes as your chairwoman has missed meetings, the child would fail," the flier states. "How would you grade your chairwoman's performance?"
"This is not an attack on Nancy Gordon personally, I'm attacking her record," Druzbick said Thursday afternoon. "This is why I am running. I don't think she is fulfilling her job."
Gordon's response to the flier is that "it is not factual."
Gordon said if she has missed meetings it was because she or her son were ill or she was on vacation.
"What can you say when people play that way?" said Gordon, who has been chairwoman for the past two years. "My attendance record shows that of 148 meetings over the past four years that . . . also (included) special meetings, I've only missed 10 of those, so his statement is entirely false."
But Druzbick, the Republican nominee who sells blinds for a Spring Hill company and has been active on school committees, says he and some of his campaign workers have listened to tapes of workshops, which do not require a roll call.
He said Gordon has missed four of eight workshops since November 1993.
Gordon, a Democrat, said workshops are for the benefit of board members, and no action is taken. If she does miss them, she already has been informed of the information that will discussed, she said.
"He needs to look at the whole record. I'm running on a four-year record, not just 10 months," she said.
Druzbick also brought up the fact that Gordon has been absent from the grand openings of the district's newest schools: West Hernando Middle School and Suncoast Elementary School, where she was supposed to make a speech but another board member was asked to fill in.
Gordon said she had prior engagements.
"I had a conflict, but so what?" she said. "This is not what we're all about. I don't need to look into his background. . . . I would never lower myself to that level."
Druzbick said the public has every right to know about what Gordon has done.
"If Nancy Gordon is going to take credit about all the good that the board does or what happens in the schools, then she can take the criticism of her own voting record and so on," Druzbick said. "We're talking facts here. It's anything that anybody who wanted to know could go find out."