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Sally Harris wants to return to the Hillsborough School Board

She is going after Lynn Gray’s districtwide seat.
Sally Harris, shown during her first term on the Hillsborough County School Board, is running again in 2020.
Sally Harris, shown during her first term on the Hillsborough County School Board, is running again in 2020.
Published Sep. 11, 2019
Updated Sep. 11, 2019

TAMPA — Sally Harris, who lost her seat on the Hillsborough County School Board last year to challenger Stacy Hahn, has filed to run for a different seat in 2020.

Harris, who operates a preschool and after-school center in South Tampa, is seeking the at-large seat held by Lynn Gray, who is running for a second term.

They aren’t the only two in the District 7 race. Josephine Amato, who has spent the last several years advocating for better student transportation, is also in the mix.

The primary for four school board seats will take place in August. The races are nonpartisan. Run-offs, which happens of no candidate gets more than half the vote, are on the day of the Presidential election in November 2020.

So far, the only other incumbent to file for re-election is Steve Cona III, who was elected in November to complete Susan Valdes’ term when Valdes joined the legislature. Challenging Cona is Victoria Anne Gudbranson, a social work student.

Cindy Stuart, who represents District 3 in North Tampa, has not filed for re-election. But teacher Jessica Vaughn has declared her candidacy in that race.

The board chairwoman, Tamara Shamburger, also has not indicated if she will seek re-election in central Tampa’s District 5.

This will be the third time Harris runs for a board seat. She lost to April Griffin in 2010. She won in an open race to represent District 2 in South Tampa in 2014, defeating the much-better-funded Michelle Shimberg in the runoff.

While on the board, Harris in 2015 cast the tie-breaking vote to fire superintendent MaryEllen Elia and, months later, another tie-breaking vote to replace Elia with Jeff Eakins.

Throughout her term, Harris gave Eakins high marks on his evaluations and earned a reputation as an enthusiastic booster of the district. Behind the scenes, she called upon her business experience and made pointed suggestions to improve efficiency during the district’s budget crisis. But a skeptical electorate went for Hahn, who won enough votes in the primary to avoid a run-off.