Karen Perez, a 54-year-old social worker, defeated Henry "Shake" Washington, 69, in the race to represent District 6 on the Hillsborough County School Board.
Her opponent was a onetime athletic coach and high school principal who spent four decades in the district, retiring as an area superintendent.
Speaking from a watch party at a Mexican restaurant in Carrollwood, Perez said, "I'm feeling great."
Her first order of business, she said, is to take a close look at mental health issues in the schools.
"Mental health has never had a voice on the board," she said.
Perez added, "I need to get my feet under me with the finances."
Washington, while disappointed by the results, fell back on some of the lessons he taught in his coaching years.
"All you can do is work hard and do the best you can," he said. "You win some, you lose some. Don't ever underestimate your opponent."
The board will hold its reorganization meeting on Nov. 20.
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For school board election results check out The Gradebook.
Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.