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Sarasota Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 3 months ago

Edwards, Rose win Sarasota County School Board seats

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Karen Rose has worked in Sarasota County Schools for 28 years. Businessman Tom Edwards will replace incumbent Eric Robinson.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

After Tuesday's primary elections, the Sarasota County School Board will seat two new members. 

Karen Rose won the District 2 election with 56% of the vote, while Tom Edwards beat out District 3 incumbent Eric Robinson with 52% of the vote. 

District 2

Rose will replace current chair Caroline Zucker, who did not seek re-election after 22 years. 

"I'm just thrilled with how the election went overall," Rose said. "I'm looking forward to representing this community that gave me incredible support by modeling a student-centered focus and supporting our teachers." 

Rose has worked in Sarasota County Schools for 28 years as a special education teacher, principal and executive director. She retired from Sarasota County Public Schools in 2018.

Also in 2018, Rose ran for school board and lost to Shirley Brown in 2018.

Rose said she plans to continue the student-first mindset she had while working for the district. In her first few months, she wants to work to support teachers and families as they deal with the pandemic. 

"We are in a time where teachers and staff need to know we are supporting them, and families know they’re being heard and represented," Rose said. "My goals are similar to those that that I had as a school leader and district leader: bringing the highest quality schools possible to a community that is incredibly giving and generous." 

Rose beat out David Graham, who is the data management coordinator for  Sarasota County Schools.  "I had 45,000 people vote for me and I've never done this before. I'm over the moon that I had that support," Graham said. "We ran a clean campaign, and of course I would've liked a different outcome, but now I get to return to my desk and continue serving the school district." 

District 3

Edwards beat incumbent Robinson, who has held the District 3 seat since 2016. 

Originally from New York, Edwards has built two businesses and worked with elected state officials to advocate for small businesses.

"I think there were two things that were profound for me in the race," Edwards said. "It's OK to disagree on policy, but we can't disagree on values, and I think that was a resounding message. I also think people don't like politics and dark money involved in the education of our young people."

He hopes to protect the county's public schools from the voucher system and privatization. He also wants to work with the superintendent Brennan Asplen to mend relationships among the teachers union, teachers and community.

"The first thing I learned about being in business is that you attack the issue, not the people," he said. "When you attack the issue, you all have a common goal to work together toward. When you attack the people, it becomes combative. That's a lesson I hope to lead by example." 

Robinson said he was proud of the campaign he ran, but it's too early to say if he'd ever considering running again. 

"I want to offer my congratulations to Tom Edwards and I'll offer any assistance I can to him as he transitions into becoming a school board member," Robinson said. 

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