State Senator Nancy Detert served as moderator for the Tiger Bay Club candidate forum today—but it wasn’t her first time at the club.
The candidates under her questioning were District One hopefuls Paul Schafer, Ken Marsh, Velton Hodges and incumbent Bridget Ziegler.
Detert had once been a candidate questioned by the club, too: she said she remembered walking into the forum and seeing signs on each table saying “Tiger Bay, where we eat political careers for lunch.”
“And I was on the menu,” Detert said to the audience.
Detert kept the crowd chuckling with her sharp and dry-humored jokes and jabs.
“Thank you for suffering our slings and arrows,” she said at the end of the forum.
The following are summaries of some of the questions and the candidates’ answers.
How do you feel about Common Core?
One of Ziegler’s points as a candidate is not supporting Common Core. She does not appreciate a federal program, she said, because educational decisions need to be made at a local level. Ziegler also doesn’t like the stress on testing.
“Teachers are frustrated with it, I know parents and students are… that part of it is what takes away the freedom and excitement of education,” she said.
Marsh and Schafer said they supported Common Core. Hodges said he felt ambivalent about it, because educational standardizing had changed programs too many times in his 34 years in Sarasota County. He has seen programs such as FCAT, Red Carpet Schools and Blueprint 2000 go through the school system every few years.
“They seem to have a shelf-life as long as the politician’s administration who created them,” he said. “You know what the answer is? Superior teachers, motivated students and hard work,” Hodges said.
What would you look for in a new superintendent?
Marsh said a good candidate would have an educational background. Someone who was already located in Sarasota would be more attractive because they could establish trust. He also would want to see a “proven track record of excellence” in education. Schafer agreed with finding a candidate with an educational background, but added the best candidate would also have a business background.
Hodges said he would want a superintendent that would tell him “what we need and how we’re going to do it.”
How do you feel about changing the Venice Indians High School mascot?
All the candidates agreed that if there were a strong push, to change it, they would listen to that demand, and that maybe some kind of education program should be included to honor and celebrate the Native American culture which earned the Venice Indians their mascot. But each had their own take on the issue:
“I think we’ve got a whole lot of more important things to do,” Hodges said. “We should find a better way to spend our time.”
Detert pointed out the street name of the school would have to be changed too, since its name is “Indian Way.”
“Tell me what you want to be called, I’ll call you whatever you want,” Schafer said. “But tradition is important.”
“I get concerned when political correctness goes too far,” Ziegler said.
“I think this is something the local community should be able to solve on its own,” Marsh said. He also suggested a redesign of the logo to be more accurate and a community celebration of the culture.
“We do that every Friday night during football season,” Detert said. “Go Indians!”