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Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010 7 years ago

Union-backed candidates get mixed election results

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The teachers union left no mystery about which school board candidates it was endorsing in the primary election.

In two contested races, school-district employees freely disseminated information about who was getting their votes, and it became a controversial campaign issue.

But, in the end, one union-backed candidate prevailed in a tight race, and the other received the fewest votes among three candidates.

District 5 candidate Kathy James first made public a series of e-mails from high-ranking school-district officials and regular district employees in which her opponent, Jane Goodwin, was endorsed and given crucial information.

The union supported Goodwin.

In one instance, a school-district employee copied Goodwin on an e-mail that discussed a meeting with a school-board candidate in a different race and the financial information he requested about the district. Goodwin was not a school employee at the time, and James was not sent the same information.

Other e-mails urged union members and school employees to vote for Goodwin and District 1 candidate Barry Woolf.

Goodwin won her race 52% to 48%.

Woolf, however, only received 16% of the vote in his race.

Incumbent Dr. Carol Todd handily won the District 1 School Board seat, receiving 62% of the vote. The third challenger, Dr. Joe Neunder, received 22% of the vote.

Todd frequently voted against spending measures that district employees endorsed. Her positions did not win her the support of the union, but the general public did support her on Election Night.

“I think the voters looked at my record,” she said. “Every campaign that I conducted I talked about my record. I never attacked my opponents. I think the voters saw that.”

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