WELLINGTON — Four newcomers are seeking to unseat an 11-year member of the Palm Beach County School Board who represents The Glades, Wellington and Royal Palm Beach.
Marcia Andrews, a longtime vocal critic of district officials, faces challenges from Jeff Browning, V. Deanne Ewers, Jennifer Showalter and Amanda Silvestri, who represent a vast continuum of stances on parents' rights, face masks and school police.
Four districts — 3, 4, 6 and 7 — are up for grabs this year, and all Palm Beach County voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in the nonpartisan school board elections as long as they live in the district being decided.
Board members serve four-year terms and are elected on a rotating basis.
The five candidates will face off in the primary election on Aug. 23. If no single candidate garners more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in the general election Nov. 8.
The Palm Beach Post performed a criminal background check on every candidate for school board, including the incumbents. The Post is reporting any criminal charges filed and the outcome of the cases since January 2012, even when they did not result in a conviction.
More on 2022 elections: Who is running for Palm Beach County School Board? Inside the crowded August races
The candidates below are listed in alphabetical order, using the names that will appear on the ballot.
Here's who is running to represent district 6:
About Marcia Andrews
Age and residence: Marcia Andrews, 72, lives in Royal Palm Beach.
Platform: Her top campaign priorities are increasing reading performance among younger elementary students, addressing unfinished learning caused by the pandemic, expanding mental and behavioral health programs in schools and ensuring student and staff safety.
“As the current school board member for district 6, a former teacher, assistant principal, principal, district administrator and union member, I know public education,” Andrews wrote in a response to a candidate questionnaire from The Post. “I have a keen understanding of the unique challenges our principals, teachers, employees and students face.”
Professional history: Andrews has served on the school board since November 2010. She has worked as the chief officer of recruitment, the chief personnel officer, an area superintendent and as a lead instruction specialist for the district.
She is a former principal of Wellington’s Polo Park Middle School and West Palm Beach’s Bear Lakes Middle. She also once worked as an assistant principal at Palm Springs Middle. She was the founder and president of an education consulting firm called Up Front Consulting, which is now closed.
Education: Andrews holds a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Atlantic University.
Children in the district: Andrews' adult children once attended Palm Beach County Schools, and she told The Post that her grandchildren go to school in the district.
Social media presence: Andrews’ social media use is limited to Facebook, where she posts mostly on school board issues.
Criminal history: None.
Notable media coverage: Andrews is known for being fiercely protective of schools in the Glades and as the district’s former human resources director, she takes a special interest in staffing and training.
She often stands out as the board member most willing to publicly criticize district officials, most notably when she unsuccessfully attempted to force former Superintendent Donald Fennoy on an improvement plan in 2020 amid intense criticism of his handling of school reopening plans.
Endorsements: Andrews’ campaign website lists a number of endorsements from individual municipal leaders in district 6, including West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb, Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto and South Bay Mayor Joseph Kyles.
Finances: Campaign finance reports as of May 31 show Andrews has raised $52,747 and spent $15,106 — the most of any candidate running for the district 6 seat.
Andrews has spent a majority of the money on donation processing fees and consulting from Wellington-based Patriot Games.
Her campaign donations include at least $6,000 from sugar farms in the Glades, including from Stofin Co., Closter Farms and from Emilia Fanjul, whose family owns Florida Crystals sugar company and who started two charter schools in the Glades.
Four members of the land planning firm Song and Associates donated on the same day, April 30. The principal planner at the West Palm Beach-based Urban Design Studio and NextEra Energy’s executive chairman also donated.
About Jeff Browning
Age and residence: Jeff Browning, 66, lives in Wellington.
Platform: His top campaign priorities are merging school police with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to secure schools, establishing a parent advisory committee to brainstorm ideas to bring to the school board and ensuring financial accountability.
“I think the children need a strong apolitical representative,” he wrote in a response to a The Post's questionnaire.
Professional history: He is a real estate agent at Darrell Bowen Realty and former general contractor for 28 years.
Education: He holds a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Institute of Technology in labor relations.
Children in the district: Browning has four grandchildren who live in the western communities and attend Palm Beach County schools.
Social media presence: He uses Facebook and Instagram to post about his campaign, although he doesn’t post often. Browning held a candidate meet-and-greet in April.
Criminal history: None
Endorsements: The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association endorsed Browning on April 13.
Finances: He has raised $10,711 and spent $5,819, mostly on a private treasurer and as reimbursements to himself for printing, postage, decor, food and beverage for events.
Browning’s campaign has garnered mostly large donations, including $1,000 from the PBA, $500 from his employer Bowen Realty and $1,000 from the president of construction company Edwards Electric Corp.
About V. Deanne Ewers
Age and residence: V. Deanne Ewers, 53, lives in Loxahatchee.
Platform: Her top campaign priorities are creating a program in schools that "bridges the divide" between police and students of color, establishing a workforce track in high schools for students who do not want to go to college, school bus safety and equity between school campus resources and equipment.
“I am running for office because as a teacher I am equipped with the knowledge and experience to influence and change our educational system for the better,” she wrote in a response to The Post's questionnaire.
Professional history: Ewers is the only teacher running to represent district 6. She teaches English and reading at Lake Worth High School.
Education: Ewers holds a master’s degree in ESOL and reading, twin bachelor’s degrees in political science and English and an associate’s degree in journalism from Florida Atlantic University.
Children in the district: Ewers has two children who are young adults and do not attend school in the district.
Social media presence: Ewers does not have separate accounts for her campaign for school board. She often shares video streams of church services hosted by her husband, David, on her Facebook page. She does not appear to have a campaign website.
Criminal history: None.
Notable media coverage: Ewers wrote a book titled “Great Women in Bahamian History: Bahamian Women Pioneers” that was published in 2013 and coaches girls’ soccer at Lake Worth High School.
Endorsements: None listed publicly.
Finances: Ewers has raised $2,000 and spent $1,870, according to her most recent campaign finance reports. All of her donations came from herself, and her sole expense was to reimburse herself for the election qualifying fee.
About Jennifer Lynn Miller Showalter
Age and residence: Jennifer Lynn Miller Showalter, 47, lives in Wellington.
Platform: She has vocally denounced the "over sexualization" of students in the district and says that political "indoctrination" affects their academic performance.
Her top campaign priority is addressing what she calls "the gross overreach and disregard of students, parents and teachers, which has led to ignoring individual and parental rights." She said she wants to rebuild transparency and communication between the board and parents in the district.
“After spending close to two years attending and speaking at school board meetings, I was appalled at the way issues were being handled and the citizens were being treated,” Showalter wrote in a response to The Post's questionnaire. “As a parent of three students, I was deeply concerned at the curriculum, bullying and other concerns facing all the children.”
Professional history: Showalter has worked as a freelance graphic designer and sells essential oils as a certified essential oil specialist through the company doTERRA.
Education: She has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a minor in communications from Virginia Tech.
Children in the district: Showalter has three children, one of whom graduated from Wellington High School in May and the other of which attends Wellington High. Her youngest son does not go to school in the district.
Social media presence: Showalter is a steady presence at school board meetings and uses social media to create and share videos of her talking about critical race theory, face masks and school materials she believes to be sexually explicit.
She often uses her campaign social media sites to post links to her four-part video series titled “The War On Our Nation: How Marxism Invaded America Through Our School Systems.”
Criminal history: None.
Notable media coverage: Showalter has often given public comments at board meetings and was photographed in April 2021 protesting face masks outside a board meeting.
Endorsements: She has been endorsed by the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida.
Finances: Showalter has raised $12,187 and spent $6,567 as of May 31. A majority of her expenses are related to planning and hosting campaign events.
Nearly all donations have been less than $100, which means the person does not have to list their occupation when recording the donation. Showalter has not reported any donations from political action committees.
About Amanda Silvestri
Age and residence: Amanda Silvestri, 37, lives in Wellington.
Platform: Her top campaign priorities include enforcing financial responsibility by the school board, securing schools, implementing anti-bullying measures and collaborating with parents to lead the school district.
“I got into this because teachers are so sad and they’re leaving. There are teachers my children will never get to have, and they are the heart and soul of the schools,” Silvestri told The Post.
Professional history: Silvestri refers to herself as a homemaker and has two young children.
Education: She holds an associate’s degree in legal studies from Keiser University.
Children in the district: Both Silvestri’s children attend elementary school in the district.
Social media presence: She is active on Facebook and Instagram, where she posts regularly about current events. Silvestri took aim at school board member Debra Robinson after Robinson referred to West Palm Beach police’s shooting of a man on the campus of Dreyfoos School of the Arts as “murder.” Silvestri said it was “unacceptable behavior for a 'leader' to use her position of power in this manner.”
Criminal history: None.
Notable media coverage: Silvestri traveled to Tallahassee in January to support school choice and commented on library books that were available in Palm Beach County schools.
“Some of the books we have come across are deeply concerning, and if we can’t fix it, we are going to have to do something or my children are out of here,” Silvestri told The Tampa Bay Times.
Endorsements: She has been publicly endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Finances: She has raised $43,760, making her campaign second to incumbent Andrews. Silvestri has spent $9,044 mostly on consulting fees to West Palm Beach firm Silverbacks Media and on printing.
Donations to Silvestri’s campaign include $1,000 from Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties, and a $5,000 loan from herself on Feb. 15. Both Silvestri and Angelique Contreras (a candidate for school board in district 4) received $500 donations from Trent Leisy, a Colorado-based plant seed company owner who supports conservative school board candidates across the country.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Who is running in Palm Beach County School Board District 6 race?