Republican voters on Tuesday sent three-term School Board member David Watson packing and sent his opponent, Patience Nave, to the Nov. 5 general election.
Nave will face Democrat Jackie Evans in the race for the District 4 seat.
Nave captured 4,472 votes, or 58 percent, to Watson's 3,198 votes, or 42 percent.
With less than half of the precincts counted, Watson approached Nave at the Citrus County Elections Office on Tuesday night and shook her hand. "I've been in public office long enough to know when it's over," he said.
Nave, 65, ran a campaign focused on beefing up the school district's curriculum. As a community college instructor, she has said she has seen high school graduates who do not have the necessary skills to attend community college.
Nave credited the support from her family and friends for her sound defeat of the incumbent. "I had no idea how many friends I had, and my friends called their friends. That's what did it," she said.
With Watson's departure in November, the board will have a combined experience of just four years.
Watson, who manages nuclear security for Florida Power Corp., has strongly defended the district and his own actions as a board member.
"I've really cared about the school system for the last 12 years, and I've always tried to do the right thing for the system and put politics aside," Watson said. "I hope Patience can do that too."
The School Board seat is a four-year term, and the annual salary is $21,870.