School board member Cindy Stuart running for Hillsborough clerk

Stuart has the support of incumbent clerk Pat Frank, who is retiring this year, in a tough Democratic primary.
Hillsborough County School Board member Cindy Stuart has filed to run for Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Hillsborough County School Board member Cindy Stuart has filed to run for Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court. [ WALLACE, DANIEL | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Apr. 20, 2020|Updated Apr. 21, 2020

TAMPA — The longest-serving member of the Hillsborough County School Board is giving up her seat to run for Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Democrat Cindy Stuart on Monday sent a letter to the Supervisor of Elections asking that her candidacy and fundraising for school board seat 3 be switched to the clerk’s race.

Stuart also touts the backing of two of Hillsborough County’s top Democrats: Retiring clerk Pat Frank, who she is running to replace, and County Commissioner chair Les Miller. Stuart did not return several requests for comment from the Tampa Bay Times. Her campaign sent out this statement:

“I want to build upon the work of Pat Frank and her staff and continue to enhance access to the clerk of the circuit court through technology,” she said. “Under Pat Frank’s 16 years as clerk, taxpayers received accountability, proficiency and leadership, with high ethical standards. I commit to continue in this tradition. That’s why I have received Pat Frank’s support as she plans to retire.”

Related: Pat Frank: A Politician Looks at 90

Stuart has raised $3,751 in contributions, according to the most recent campaign report. By comparison her competitor in the Democratic primary, former county commissioner Kevin Beckner, has reported $99,642.80 in campaign contributions.

The biggest campaign chest in the race belongs to a Republican, incumbent County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who has raised $193,008. In that primary she faces D.C. Goutoufas, who has raised $7,075.

The primary is Aug. 18 and Election Day is Nov. 3.

Beckner ran for Hillsborough clerk in 2016 against Frank, who had held the position since 2004. It was one of the most contentious elections in recent memory — Frank was described as “part-time Pat” and depicted in a cartoon sitting in a lawn chair with a tropical drink — but she won with 59 percent of the vote.

“You can forgive, but it’s difficult to forget,” Frank said after the election. Now Frank plans to retire in January 2021, and has thrown her support behind the school board member, according to Stuart’s campaign.

Stuart first joined the school board in 2012, unseating long-time board member Jack Lamb. In 2015 she was one of four members who voted to fire Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and replace her with Jeff Eakins. She was re-elected in 2016.

Information from previous coverage was used in this report.