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Jessica Vaughn wins seat on the Hillsborough School Board

She will represent Carrollwood, New Tampa and other northern suburbs.
Jessica Vaughn captured 61 percent of the vote in Tuesday's contest for the Hillsborough County School Board District 3 seat.
Jessica Vaughn captured 61 percent of the vote in Tuesday's contest for the Hillsborough County School Board District 3 seat. [ Courtesy of the Jessica Vaughn campaign ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020
Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TAMPA — Jessica Vaughn, a substitute teacher who is active in progressive Democratic politics and has served on her community development district board, was headed to victory Tuesday in her bid for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board.

Vaughn had 61 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for Mitch Thrower, with all precincts reporting.

The seat was open as Cindy Stuart, who occupied it for eight years, is leaving to become the Hillsborough clerk of court.

Vaughn, 43, and Thrower, 52, emerged from a field of six in the Aug. 18 primary election.

Vaughn campaigned on a platform to restore teacher morale. She also pledged to look carefully at classroom practices, including those that are used for children with learning disabilities. And she has strong views on state funding, privatization and charter schools.

Thrower, who came from a family of educators, showcased his experience as an accountant and auditor, which he hoped to put to use as the district weathers the latest in a series of budgetary problems.

But Vaughn’s message proved more successful.

Already, Vaughn said on Tuesday evening, she has received a phone call and an invitation to meet with superintendent Addison Davis.

Along the campaign trail, Vaughn got to know Nadia Combs, who unseated incumbent board member Steve Cona III, as well as board candidate Henry “Shake” Washington and board member Lynn Gray, who were all recommended by the teachers' union.

“I think some of us built a working relationship beforehand and it’s going to be a really positive change," Vaughn said.

"I feel like the people who won tonight, we were able to express our dedication to education and to public education. We’ll be able to work together and make some great things happen.”