Addison Davis has been here about 10 minutes, and already the new Hillsborough schools superintendent has endorsed a candidate in a local, partisan election. This is a bad move for the head of the nation’s seventh-largest school system, who should be at the vanguard of keeping politics out of public education.
Davis took over in March after the retirement of Jeff Eakins, who as superintendent was super careful to stay out of politics. But this month, Davis endorsed Cindy Stuart - a member of the School Board that hired Davis in January - in her Democratic primary race against Kevin Beckner for Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court.
Davis has no business getting involved in the clerk’s race - or any other race, for that matter. While his contract, and school board policies, don’t bar him from endorsing, it’s unseemly for the superintendent to use the pulpit of his nonpartisan appointed position to play a kingmaking role. Public education needs every friend it can get. Parents, school employees and community leaders should not have to worry about a school district’s political bent or whether favored politicians have an inside lane. As a comparison, the charter for Hillsborough County government expressly forbids the county administrator from taking part “in any political activity other than voting.” That’s a good self-defense mechanism the school board should adopt if its administrators lack the good judgment to exercise it themselves.
Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news