News Section: Politics
Carpenter Routes Brunner in Manatee County School Board District 4 Race
BRADENTON – First-term incumbent Karen Carpenter easily turned down a challenge from former member Frank Brunner in Tuesday's two-candidate district 4 school board race, winning by 21 points in a countywide contest. . Carpenter was elected in 2010 and was a major force in exposing the district's deep financial problems that led to a complete overhaul of the school district's administration in 2013. Carpenter's vote total of 24,866 was the highest in all of Tuesday's races in Manatee County.
Brunner served on the MCSB from 1996 to 2006, when he left mid-term to run unsuccessfully against Carol Whitmore for the district 6 county commission seat that was being vacated by Pat Glass. He then took a position within the district. He is currently the director of Manatee County CrimeStoppers.
Throughout the campaign, Brunner tried unsuccessfully to tie Carpenter to the district's recent woes, recylcing the age-old political question as to whether the district was better off now than when she was first elected.
In reality, the district was a mess when Carpenter came on, and administrators under former Superintendent Tim McGonegal were able to shell game deep-rooted financial problems until the house of cards finally fell in late 2012 – in no small part because of Carpenter's efforts. Carpenter then went on to chair the board, providing leadership and stability through perhaps the most difficult and unstable year in the district's history.
The race was perhaps most notable for the whirlwind of criticism surrounding the fact that Brunner did not live in the district as required. Though he technically met the requirement by signing a 1-year lease on a 1-bedroom apartment in Bradenton, he and his wife are homesteaded north of the river in district 1.
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