PASCO COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDANT RACE. Mark Antokas

07/22/04

INTRO: The Pasco County school system budget this year will be six hundred forty million dollars, will serve over fifty seven thousand students, being the largest employer in the county, and the largest county school district in the United States still electing their school superintendent. The hotly contested race currently between two active Republicans, one Republican write in candidate, and a last minute bid by a Democrat has become a battle ground pitting Republican against Republican, Republican against Democrat, and a very vocal school board calling to do away with elections in favor of an appointed superintendent. WMNF’s Mark Antokas introduces those running for Pasco County’s School Superintendant race.

When retiring Democrat John Long, the long time Superintendant of Pasco County’s schools tapped Republican Chuck Rushe, CFO of the district, to be the next Superintendent of schools, political feathers ruffled. Local Republicans, under State Senator Mike Fasano and the Pasco County Executive Committee’s Bill Bunting, endorsed State Represenative Heather Fiorentino for the position, as did Govenor Bush. At that point, the August primary was open to all voters. Then Bill Bunting persuaded James Griffin, who has no intention of winning or even campaigning, to enter the race as a write in candidate, effectively closing the the August primary to over 150 thousand democratic voters. Alice Delgardo, an African American Democrat entered the race late, determined to give voters a choice in November. Roll Tape:

Republican Chuck Rushe, backed by Democratic incumbent John Long, says that the “Penny for Pasco� issue has something to do with his not getting Republican backing. Roll Tape:

Heather Fiorentino explains why she thinks she is the best choice for Superintendent. Roll Tape:

Sock Out: Tommorrow, WMNF will explore more deeply the reasons behind the Republican Reasons for backing Heather Fiorentino and some of the complaints connected to that decision. This is Mark Antokas for WMNF radio news.

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