School board races heating up in Orange County

by Scott Powers
Published in Orlando Rising. See the article here.

Three new candidates have entered the fray for Orange County school board elections, while two more seats appear open and a third might be opening soon.

The result means that five and perhaps six of the eight school board seats could be turning over in the 2018 election.

The scheduled 2018 contest to succeed School Board Member Joie Cadle in District 1, representing east Orange County, grew to four candidates this week with the entries this week of Angie Gallo of Orlando and Heather Traynham and Winter Park. They join David Haynes of Winter Park, who entered the race in May, and Terry Rooth, who entered the contest last December.

The 2018 contest to succeed School Board Member Darryl Flynn in southeast Orange County has grown to five candidates with the entry of David Grimm. He enters a race recently joined by Sara Au of Orlando, who filed in early October, Chadwick Hardee of Orlando who entered in July, Jacqueline Centeno of Orlando who entered in May, and Demetrius Smith of Orlando, who entered in April.

The 2018 contest to succeed School Board Member Linda Kobert in south Orange County remains with just one candidate Jessica Torrence, who entered in April.

Meanwhile, no one has filed yet, but names are arising, for Orange County School Board District 7 in northwest Orange County, where incumbent Christine Moore of Apopka just won election last year, and has decided to run for the Orange County Commission next year. Should she stay in that race, there would be a special election to fill her seat in 2018.

Also, no one has yet filed for the Orange County School Board chair’s position, a countywide race that has opened because incumbent Chair Bill Sublette of Orlando is running for the position of Orange County mayor. Should he stay in the mayor’s race, his chair, which to which he was re-elected last year, would be up for a special election in 2018. School Board Member Nancy Robbinson of Orlando has been widely discussed as an expected candidate.

Should Robbinson run for the chair’s position, that would open up her seat in District 6 seat representing north Orange County for a special election in 2018.

Gallo has been a leader in PTA activities from the school level through the district, county and state levels. She’s now the legislative chair for the Florida PTA, and she’s taken a particular interest in promoting and expanding pre-kindergarten education programs.

“I feel I have a really good understanding and grasp of education,” she said.

Traynham has a public relations firm that works with Orange County Public Schools in communications and education engagement.

“I advocate for every student, parent and teacher in Orange County to make sure our schools continue to be innovative and dynamic,” she said.

Grimm is a teacher and athletics coach at the district’s Innovation Middle School. He said something has been eroding from the schools the past few years, and as someone who he said is plugged in to both the school and its greater community, he believes he can help restore it.

“This is my 20th year with Orange County. I would say over the last five to seven years I just feel as though education has lost its heart. The students, the parents, the teachers, the staff, the community of all the schools, that’s the heart of education. We’ve been faced with so many different requirements when it comes to testing, to mandated paperwork, different kinds of initiatives, when it comes tour jobs, and I believe we’ve lost some of our heart.”