On the campaign trail in Hillsborough: Donors get serious about a school board race

Steve Cona III will face Bill Person in the Nov. 6 election for District 1 on the Hillsborough County School Board.
Steve Cona III will face Bill Person in the Nov. 6 election for District 1 on the Hillsborough County School Board.
Published October 9

The building industry really wants Steve Cona III to join the Hillsborough County School Board. And the same can be said for organized labor and Cona's opponent, Bill Person.

The latest financial filings show Cona has topped the $100,000 mark, which is a lot for a school board race, with generous donations including $1,000 from IEP Power, a contractor political action committee; $1,000 from Bay Area Citizens for Responsible Government, which is a builders' committee; and $1,000 from construction chief executive Rebecca Smith.

Cona, who has logged just under 300 donations so far, is chief executive of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.

Person, a retired teacher, principal and administrator for the Hillsborough district, also is raising far more money than he did during his 2016 run for the District 1 seat in West Hillsborough. But that time, he was running against an incumbent, Susan Valdes.

Person's 193 contributions, adding up to $70,623, include more than $10,000 from organizations that include the Sheet Metal Workers, the Teamsters and the Iron Workers Local. The Democratic Executive Committee also kicked in $1,000.  Educators and retired educators are also lending their support, although usually with smaller checks.

By contrast, the countywide contest between Henry "Shake" Washington and social worker Karen Perez has attracted only $36,000 combined.

The election is Nov. 6.

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