News Section: Politics
Kennedy Wins Big in Manatee County School Board District 2 Race
Scores 11 point upset victory over Jones
BRADENTON -- Manatee High School Social Studies teacher Charlie Kennedy won a major upset on Tuesday, soundly defeating Manatee County native Rodney Jones in a two-way non-partisan race for the District 2 seat being vacated by longtime veteran Barbara Harvey.
In a race that featured two promising and qualified candidates, Jones, the son of a lifelong local educator, seemed to build a bigger base of support from a broad array of interests including the teacher's union and such local education luminaries as Joe Kinnan and Dr. Richard Conard – who disagreed vehemently in their support in the other two races and just about everything else under the sun.
In perhaps the best testament to the reach of his support, Jones got the endorsement of both the Tea Party and local Democrats. Jones also raised twice as much money and secured more or less every major endorsement.
None of that was enough to beat Kennedy, who trounced him 21,889 votes to 16,923 in the countywide race. While Jones had the institutions behind him – usually more than enough – Kennedy clearly spoke to a broad array of individuals who were eager to hear the perspective of a teacher on the inside of a deeply troubled district.
Kennedy brought plenty of interesting ideas to the race and also displayed admirable transparency, posting his answers to all endorsement questionnaires online for voters to explore. Jones, who brought considerable experience serving on various boards related to the district, such as the Strategic Planning Team, Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee and three different schools' School Advisory Committees, seemed better versed on the total spectrum of issues under the board's purview.
Kennedy, who will have to resign as a teacher, will join a deeply divided board in which more or less half of it has shown support for the current administration, while the others have ranged from lukewarm to obstructive. The district recently completed a remarkable financial turnaround after years of financial malfeasance and will now be able to focus its attention more intently on the classroom. Having someone with Kennedy's experience should be a useful addition, particularly in that regard.
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