Port Richey lawyer, school volunteer to seek Pasco County School Board seat

Tara M. O'Connor also graduated from Pasco County schools.
Tara M. O'Connor will seek the Pasco School Board District 5 seat in 2018. [Courtesy of Tara M. O'Connor]
Tara M. O'Connor will seek the Pasco School Board District 5 seat in 2018. [Courtesy of Tara M. O'Connor]
Published Jan. 11, 2018

Shortly after Pasco County School Board member Steve Luikart announced he wouldn't seek a third term, Port Richey lawyer and mom Tara M. O'Connor placed her name on the candidate list to replace him.

She is the third hopeful to pre-file paperwork to seek the District 5 seat, representing northwest Pasco on the five-person board.

"I've lived in Pasco since 1985," she said. "I'm a product of District 5 schools. … My kids are products of District 5 schools."

She's been active in the system as a school advisory committee member, Take Stock in Children mentor and several other activities. And with her youngest now graduated from Fivay High, she said she has the time to serve on the School Board.

"There is no greater time spent than on children," O'Connor said.

She said she did not have any particular issue, such as special education or class size, that drives her candidacy. Her motivation is to "be a catalyst" for parents, students and employees who often cannot get information they need to succeed in the system.

Last year, her family experienced some angst with the district's high school class ranking model, because some officials misinterpreted the rules and gave incorrect information to her son.

O'Connor said she often helps others in trying to get to the bottom of situations, serving as a sounding board and offering guidance.

"The School Board seems like a natural transition," she said. "It's time to give back to the community."

Hudson Middle teacher Mike Aday and law student Kassie Hutchinson also are seeking the District 5 seat. Official qualifying comes in June, and the election is on Aug. 28.