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Teacher files state complaint against Pasco School Board candidate

Jessica Jecusco argues Al Hernandez should be removed from the August 23 ballot.
Al  Hernandez is a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Pasco County School Board in 2022. He is  a Humana executive and Pasco-Hernando State College trustee.
Al Hernandez is a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Pasco County School Board in 2022. He is a Humana executive and Pasco-Hernando State College trustee. [ Pasco-Hernando State College ]
Published Jul. 22|Updated Jul. 22

A Pasco County government and politics teacher is taking her lessons to the next level in a local School Board race.

Jessica Jecusco
Jessica Jecusco [ Courtesy of Jessica Jecusco ]

Jessica Jecusco, a Florida Virtual School teacher who lives in Land O’Lakes, has filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission alleging that District 1 candidate Al Hernendez should be disqualified from the Aug. 23 ballot. She claims that he did not live in the east Pasco region by the June 17 qualifying deadline, as required by law.

Jecusco said she read about the possible eligibility problem in a Tampa Bay Times article, and then began researching the situation and potential solutions.

“There’s nothing about it that seems like he’s going to live there. And if he hasn’t lived there, he doesn’t know the locals and their concerns,” she said. “It just ground my gears.”

Hernandez said he had not seen the complaint, which the Elections Commission would forward to him within five working days of receiving it. He would have 14 days after that to respond.

The Commission would review the complaint for legal sufficiency and, if warranted, conduct an investigation. If it finds probable cause, it would bring the matter to a public hearing. The Commission does not have a set time frame for such actions.

Hernandez has insisted he took all the proper steps to reside within District 1 in a timely manner. He purchased a home in Zephyrhills in April after announcing his candidacy, but said his plans to move in were delayed by renovations.

Hernandez said was was disappointed but not surprised at the move. As the candidate with the most money and high profile endorsements, including that of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Humana regional executive has had a target on his back throughout campaign season.

“It just is nonsense. It’s politics and it’s expected,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to focus on the campaign. This is about the children of Pasco. I’m not doing it for glory or ego.”

Jecusco said she viewed the matter as a simple one of following the law.

She said she had hoped the county elections office would take action on the issue, considering all candidates take an oath affirming the information they provide about their campaigns is truthful. That includes residency.

“How is it his oath can be taken seriously?” she asked.

But with the local office serving in a purely ministerial role, Jecusco turned instead to the state Elections Commission. She said she consulted briefly with the wife of District 1 candidate James Washington before filing the paperwork.

Washington and Jecusco worked together at Gulf High School in the past. Washington said he did not ask Jecusco to make the complaint or offer to support it.

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Aircraft parts manufacturer Steve Meisman also is running for the seat.

Jescuso said she is not acting because of partisanship. She is backing Republicans and Democrats alike, based on their specific qualifications, she said.

“This is about, do we have someone who truly represents our children,” she said.

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