In 2010, the Supreme Court unleashed a monster when it approved basically unlimited political donations by corporations and individuals. In our tech-dependent world, it's highly likely that winning candidates will be the ones with the most money to spend on various forms or advertising. As such, I find the huge amount of support pouring in from other states for Florida candidates to be unfair and frightening.
For example, the candidate running against Elizabeth Andersen (for District 2, the Beaches seat on the Duval school board) is April Carney, who apparently has the backing of Steve Bannon. The former political strategist hosted Carney on his podcast — “Bannon’s War Room” — last November, urging his audience to follow and support her campaign.
While this may not constitute a formal endorsement (and whether or not I approve of the choice), that is not the issue here. Why in the world is someone urging support on a national level for a candidate in Jacksonville?
Being allowed to spread around that much money (and airtime) gives too much power over elections to too few people. It also eliminates many highly competent potential candidates who may not be able to afford to compete at the same level. Andersen, our former school board chairman, deserves to run on her own qualifications. Her opponent is running a carefully orchestrated campaign, much of which is based on what is NOT said. Voters should take heed!
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: State meddling in school board elections undermines public education
Then there’s another layer of concern. A June 20 story in the Times-Union reported that the DeSantis campaign is also eyeing school board candidates, which surely includes Duval County.
Aren't these the same people who resent interference from Washington, preferring to make their own decisions? Yet state leadership overrules medical information, tries to interfere with the decisions of colleges and universities and again seeks to influence local school boards.
As a former teacher, it appears to me that Dr. Diana Greene is doing an outstanding job of leading our huge school district in the right direction. She needs a board that will work with her in accomplishing all that still needs to be done. In my opinion, this should be a local decision. We don't need support from outside Florida or interference from within the state.
The students must be the priority — not overreaching politics.
Rhoda T. London, retired teacher, Jacksonville
This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Rhoda London: School board race should be about students, not politics