How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

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How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

By Barbara Haiss Martin

A joint resolution (HJR-31) to restore partisan elections of school board members passed both the House and Senate and heads to the Secretary of State’s office to be placed on the 2024 ballot as an amendment to the Constitution. If the amendment passes with a 60 percent vote, it would take effect at the next general election in 2026. The vote in both the House and Senate was along party lines with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against it.

All four Seminole County State Representatives Doug Bankson, Rachel Plakon, Susan Plasencia, and David Smith voted for the House Resolution.  Seminole’s State Senator Jason Brodeur voted for the Senate version of the resolution.

So how was this right to elect school board members in partisan elections lost?

Early Florida Constitutions apparently left the education election details up to the counties. In Seminole County, according to Sanford Herald news articles and editorials from 1914 through 1997, the county switched back and forth between partisan and non-partisan elections depending upon who was in office. But having Republicans in office didn’t necessarily guarantee a partisan vote for school board members. Seminole voted in partisan elections through a 15-member Charter Review Commission after voters had voted for a new Charter Government in 1993.

Tallahassee had its own review commission. A Florida Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) was voted in by electors (about 1958) and was tasked to meet every 20 years and propose changes to the Constitution. Those changes were Amendments placed directly on the next ballot to be voted on by the public. The process bypassed any work or review of Legislators.

Florida’s previous Constitutions had revision clauses that allowed legislators to refer a Constitutional Amendment to the ballot, to accept valid citizen initiatives, and to call for a Constitutional Convention.

The first CRC met in 1977 and placed eight constitutional amendments on the 1978 ballot. All were rejected by the voters.

Twenty years later in 1997 when the second Florida Constitutional Revision Commission met, eight of the nine amendments placed on the 1998 election passed including one for non-partisan school board elections. It took effect in the 2000 election.

Fifteen of the 37 unelected CRC commissioners in 1997 were appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles (D); nine by President of the Senate Toni Jennings (R); nine by Speaker of the House Daniel Webster (R); three by Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Gerald Kogan (D) and Gov. Chiles appointed the Chairman.

So the last time we lost the right to vote in fair partisan elections for school board members, was when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. However, the Governor appointed 19 of the 37 commissioners to give the Democrats a one-vote advantage.

At least twice since the creation of the CRC, the legislature attempted to abolish it through a ballot amendment, but, so far, each time the voters have rejected it.  It meets again in 2037.

Since the joint resolution has made it to the ballot, now the real work begins to educate Republicans and Independents before the election.

Democrats, of course, have always favored non-partisan elections since it gives them an advantage. They traditionally work in lockstep and just put up one candidate. Since Republicans are more freedom-minded, whomever wants to run for office, runs. Last election, Republicans had several well-qualified candidates with two or three each running against the one Democrat in each of three school board races. All three Democrats won outright or in a run-off election a month later.

School Board elections are listed on primaries, not general elections. Because they are non-partisan, there are no primaries for them.

Since the next school board election will be held in 2024 prior to passage of the Amendment, one solution for Republicans is to have their own private, in-house primary and select one candidate (in each race) to run against the whomever the Democrats put up for the school board seats. This would eliminate the Democrats’ advantage as well as preventing a Democrat-funded Republican from winning the race as nearly happened in the last school board race.

Thanks for reading the article written by Republican Barbara Martin on “How we lost the right to partisan school board elections” Remember to follow us on Facebook!

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know

By Barbara Haiss Martin

2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know – Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, and Oviedo all have seats up for re-election. Qualifying dates last anywhere from four to eight days and candidates can generally pick up a qualifying packet a month prior to the qualifying period but can call the city to see when the city clerks have them ready.

Forms and documentation must be filled out prior to submitting an application or affidavit to the city. Most city commissioners/mayors will serve a 2-year term, although, some mayors serve a 3-year term. See specific city information below. 

2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know | The SCREC is a great option for you.

Unfortunately, municipal non-partisan elections give the Democrats an advantage as Dems generally put up only one candidate and put all their support behind them. Republicans don’t restrict anyone who wishes to run for office. Support can then be diluted for the Republicans. 
I did list the party affiliation of current seat holders so Republicans can determine which seats they want to run for, but it doesn’t mean a Republican can’t run if there is an (R) behind someone’s name.
I can tell you from covering the City of Altamonte Springs meetings as I did for almost a year as a member of Grassroots for America, it is difficult to tell where an existing commissioner stands on a topic unless they make some sort of comment or you can catch them to ask a question. I was seven months into covering the Commission when a minor controversy arose about the City’s graffiti ordinance and how many hours property owners/homeowners had to clean it up before the Code Enforcement penalties would start accruing.
While the two Republican City Commissioners said nothing, the lone Libertarian, Jim Turney, was having none of it. He felt the proposed update to the City Ordinance did not provide adequate due process for the homeowner/property owner and asked that it be rewritten.

Turney said the City had a lot of absentee property owners who rented their property and may not even get the Code Enforcement notice before the clock runs out. Even after the rewrite, Turney opposed the ordinance, but on Oct. 5, 2021, it passed 4 to 1. At the time, I was hoping the two Republican Commissioners would join Turney in opposing the amendment to the ordinance as he bought up some valid points, but they did not.
Unless you attend city meetings, watch them online or read the minutes, you won’t know who is acting on your behalf or standing up for your rights. I was always glad to see Turney show up at SCREC meetings to speak in the Candidate’s Corner when campaigning for his non-partisan seat and I expect we will see him again this year.

2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know – written by Barbara Haiss Martin

Altamonte Springs
Qualifying Dates: Noon on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023
Positions up for Re-election:

  • Mayor (3-year term) Currently held by Mayor Patricia Bates (D) – Served since 1997 as a commissioner and since 2008 as Mayor
  • Commissioner District 1 – Jim Turney (Libertarian Party of Florida – LPF) – Served since 2017
  • Commissioner District 3 – Sarah Reece (D) – Served since 1997

The City does not have term limits for these offices. Interested candidates should contact the City Clerk Angie Apperson at 407-571-8122. Appointments are requested.

2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know – written by Barbara Haiss Martin

Lake Mary
Qualifying Dates: Noon on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023 to Noon on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023
Positions up for Re-election:

  • City Commissioner Seat 2 – George Duryea(R) – Served since 1987
  • City Commissioner Seat 4 – Justin York (R) – Served since 2019

Lake Mary does not have term limits and Duryea is one of the longest serving city commissioners in Florida. Candidates can pick up a qualifying packet from City Clerk Michelle McCurdy’s office approximately one month prior to the beginning of qualifying week. McCurdy suggests calling her for an appointment at 407-585-1423 so she can go over the packet with you and answer any questions you may have.

Qualifying Dates: Monday, Aug. 7, 2023 to Noon, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023
Positions up for Re-election:

  • Mayor – Megan Sladek (R)
  • Councilmember Group 1 Natalie Teuchert (D)

The City of Oviedo does not have term limits and both candidates up for re-election have served one term. A Candidate’s Packet with more information may be picked up at the City Clerk Elianne Rivera’s office or call her at 407-971-5504.

Thanks for reading the article written by Republican Barbara Martin on “2023 Elections 3 cities 7 seats Here is what you need to know” Remember to follow us on Facebook!

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist/editor who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

Florida teams find voter, $$$ and campaign fraud

reps-vs-dems | Florida teams find voter, $$$ and campaign fraud

Florida teams find voter, $$$ and campaign fraud

Jay Valentine, founder of Omega for America, assists voter integrity teams in several states, including Florida, to expose phantom voters on their voter rolls. His latest article on the topic, “A Gigantic Egg all over Brad Raffensperger’s Face” is about the problems with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) and Georgia’s Secretary of State Raffensperger’s support for the program.

Besides reciting the problems he’s been finding since 2019, Valentine also revealed two little known fraudulent issues with ERIC while working with voter integrity teams in Florida.

Valentine explains: “Three county sheriff’s departments contacted our team because they were interested in this kind of voter fraud — registered voters in vacant lots.  They each, separately, performed other analyses and found that vacant lots had accumulated fraud.

Many of those addresses harbored clearly fake voters — or real voters who were not there.  When they ran those addresses against the PPP (Payroll Protection Program), where Biden gave out free dough — guess what!  You got it!  Those address might not be able to get mail, but somehow, they got the dough! “

“A team in Florida, working with law enforcement found some of those scammy addresses harbored as ‘contribution mules.’ The contribution mule is the guy who has no discernible wealth but makes 4,000 donations a year, to candidates all over the country, in $50 increments. So where does that guy get his dough?” Valentine said.

Thanks for reading the article written by Republican Barbara Martin on “Florida teams find voter, $$$ and campaign fraud”

Florida is one of several states that have recently evicted ERIC and more states are abandoning the George Soros-funded program each week. To read Valentine’s entire article, go to:

Message from the Chairman

Fellow Patriots of Seminole County,

As we work to rebuild our Seminole County GOP community, my hope is that you will take an active role in our cause for individual rights, limited government, states’ rights, and the values the Republican Party has always stood for:  freedom, prosperity, and opportunity for all. 

Chairman Bruce Cherry

Today, these principles are under attack from the far-left who seek to expand government control over our lives and in every sector of our economy. We see the decline in our schools, the disruptions in our supply chains, and the threats to our personal choices, our religious freedoms, and free speech. Our country is on fire, and we need to be firefighters.

To win, we must grow the party and elect good Republicans up and down the ballot. We must focus on finding, vetting, and supporting Constitutional Conservatives. We will work hard to have those candidates elected to every level of office in Seminole County. We will fight for Election Integrity, and we will make certain that every precinct in Seminole County is properly represented and supported by SCREC.  

Community outreach is essential to grow the party. People must know the truth about Republicans — that we embrace all Americans from every walk of life, we are generous, and we want all people to be able to prosper in a free nation. We’re on a mission to engage more Republicans to get involved, especially young Republicans and new voters. We have a lot of work ahead, and we can’t do it alone. 

My pledge is to serve alongside you in the Seminole County community, at voter registration and volunteer events, fundraisers, and on the campaign trail so we Keep Seminole Red. We are committed to working with other Republican clubs in Seminole County. Their work is our work. 

On behalf of the Seminole County Executive Committee board, Vice Chair Kelly Shilson, Secretary Drake Wuertz, and our newly elected Treasurer, Keith Cleborne, I want to express our gratitude for our tireless volunteers, our active  members and donors for your continued support. 

We will work to keep our GOP community in Seminole County informed on local politics, news and legislative issues that matter to you and local volunteer events that you can support.

Now, let’s get to work. We have a country to save.

Bruce Cherry
Seminole County Republican Executive Committee

Dems fume as school board term limits and partisan elections pass out of subcommittee

Dems fume as school board term limits and partisan elections pass out of subcommittee

By Barbara Haiss Martin

In February, the Florida House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee debated, then voted on Joint Resolution HJR-31 which gives voters a choice to restore partisan school board elections through a Constitutional Amendment. The subcommittee also voted on House Bill HB-477 which seeks to set eight-year term limits on school board members. 

On the subcommittee were 18 members: 13 Republicans and five Democrats, including local Representative Doug Bankson (R) of Apopka.

Rep. Doug Bankson
Rep. Doug Bankson

Rep. Spencer Roach (R) of Lee and Charlotte counties, co-sponsor and originator of the HJR-31 explained the resolution’s intent was to provide transparency for the voter. He said it was the No. 1 issue in his district until the arrival of Hurricane Ian.

Rep. Spencer Roach
Rep. Spencer Roach

All five Democrats opposed the resolution because they deemed it was important to keep politics out of schools and the school board. 

Roach said there are “real differences between the two parties about curriculum, bathrooms and how the superintendent should be voted in.” He reiterated the importance of transparency for the voter throughout his rebuttal to the Democrats.

Comments of committee members opposed to the joint resolution

Rep. Kevin Chambliss (D) of Miami-Dade County said: “Transparency may be the intent, but the results will be different. This will bring the extreme ideologies into the school board.” 

Rep. Angie Nixon (D) of Duval County said, “Voters already decided in 1998 about this.” She was referring to the 1998 Amendment 11 which passed granting, among other things, non-partisan school board member elections. The Amendment was placed on the ballot by the Constitutional Revision Commission.

Roach responded: “Yes, but it was one item in a mixed bag of seven education election issues – did they really vote for this one? We’ve had partisan elections for 150 years. The goal is to provide voters with as much information as possible.”

Nixon further stated: “This is not about transparency. Keep politics out of our schools! Freedom from party politics!” Her voice got louder and she nearly came out of her seat while raising her hand to emphasize her point. “This is absurd! It will create a contentious climate. You see the craziness of party politics in D.C.”

At one point, Nixon asked Roach, “Are you more concerned about politics than our children?”

Roach responded, “Those two things are not mutually exclusive.”

Chambliss was also concerned that NPA (No Party Affiliation) voters would not be allowed to vote in the primary.

“They are not even a party,” he said.

Roach replied that the NPA designation is seen by the State of Florida as a party and if they had other NPAs wanting to run for a school board seat, there would be an NPA primary – “so, yes, they can vote in a primary.”


Comments from the public

Five people spoke from the following organizations: The League of Women Voters, Fund Education Now, Pastors for Florida Children/Together for Hope and the Florida AFL-CIO who all said they could not support the resolution. They all agreed that it was best to “keep politics out of schools.” One woman implied it would draw money into campaigns from those “extreme ideologies.”

Also opposing the resolution, but not speaking, was the Florida PTA. Supporting the resolution but not speaking were the Florida Citizens Alliance and Opportunity Solutions Project.

Then there was Shawn Frost of Vero Beach who apologized for being late. He said he had already spoken at another committee and just happened to be walking by and came in.

Frost said, “I’ve heard them say they want to get politics out of the schools, but they just want to get one political party out of the schools.” He said he was in favor of the measure.

There were eight lobbyists interested in the resolution from five organizations: Florida Supervisors of Elections, Inc, Florida Citizens Alliance, Florida Education Association, Opportunity Solutions Project and the Florida School Boards Associations. None of them spoke. 

A few days before the committee meeting, lobbyist Danielle Thomas with the Florida School Boards Association, returned my call about what her remarks would be at the meeting.  

“Oh, I never speak at the committee meetings,” Thomas said. “I only speak to the sponsor of the bill.”

Several Republicans spoke in favor of the resolution including Bankson, co-sponsor Jenna Persons-Mulicka of Lee County, Thad Altman of Brevard County, and Fabian Basabe and Juan Carlos Porras who are both from Miami-Dade County.  Bankson, who spoke just before the vote, stated he agreed with what his fellow Republicans had said.

“I know it passed in 1998, but there were many other issues in that (Amendment).  I am content to hear what the voters have to say,” Bankson said. 

The resolution passed 13 to 5 along party lines. It now heads next to the Ethics, Elections and Open Government subcommittee. 

House Bill – 477

House Bill -477 on term limits of school board members also passed 14 to 5 with Chambliss, the lone Democrat, voting for the bill stating he agreed with the eight-year term limit. There were discussions about whether the term limits should be eight or twelve years.

Chambliss said in Miami-Dade, they had one school board member who was on the board for more than 20 years and was just voted back in during the 2022 election.

 “We need new faces and ideas,” he said.

Representative Susan Valdez, the Democrat Ranking Member on the subcommittee and former teacher,  spoke about her achievements as a former Hillsborough County school board member and why an eight-year term limit is not enough to accomplish what is needed to get done especially in turning around low-performing schools.

Rep. Alex Rizo (R) of Miami-Dade and sponsor of the bill said he thought eight years was enough for any school board member to get their agenda accomplished especially with the increased involvement of parents over the last two years.

Valdez and Nixon were both getting blustery about the bill with Nixon spouting loudly, “Children’s lives are at stake! Especially Black and brown lives. Leave your politics at the door!”

Shawn Frost also spoke on this bill but not before revealing he was a “recovering school board chairman and member.” His slogan on this bill was “8 is great, shelve the 12.”

The bill heads next to the Education and Employment Committee.

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist/editor who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

To read the full text of HJR-31 and HB-477, visit You can also follow legislative issues at The Florida legislature is scheduled to convene their Regular Session on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 and to adjourn on Friday, May 5, 2023.

Hear Former Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller on the Afghan Withdrawal

Hear Former Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller on the Afghan Withdrawal

Listen to the firsthand account of Former Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the combat-decorated U.S. Marine Corps officer, and patriot who spoke out against the debacle of the Afghan pullout, as he discusses the history of these events on October 14th in Oviedo, Florida.

Between April and August of 2021, the Biden Administration began an abrupt pullout of 2,500 remaining troops from Afghanistan that would lead to the collapse of the Afghan government as it fell into the hands of the Taliban. Hundreds of U.S. citizens were left behind, 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghans were killed, and tens of billions of dollars worth of weaponry and military equipment were abandoned.

Join this special meeting event of the East Seminole Republican Club. Get your free tickets, here.

You’ll learn about the culmination of decades of betrayal of military members by top leadership, from Generals to the Commander in Chief, as the truth comes to light.

Scheller is the author of Crisis of Command: How We Lost Confidence in America’s Generals and Politicians.


WHAT: Former Lt. Col. Scheller Speaks on the Afghan Withdrawal

WHEN: October 14, 2022 – 6:30–9 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)

WHERE: East Coast Believers Church in Oviedo, Florida (3053 W. SR 426)

Space is limited and doors will close once capacity is reached. Enjoy food truck service, 5:45–6:45 p.m.

For more information, call Karen at 407-697-9419

We Won! We Kept Seminole County Red!

Nice cover photo in the Orlando Sentinel of the Republican Party of Seminole County’s watch party Election Night.

It was a great night and we heard speeches from EIGHT of the Party’s winners. Congrats again to all ELEVEN winners!

The media have been gleefully running stories for weeks about how many thousands of young, progressive Democrats have moved into (high density housing in) Seminole County, confident that Democrats would vote against the very people that have ensured the cause of Liberty and our great quality of life in Seminole, which Republicans have led for two decades.

This Party and its army of hundreds of volunteers delivered that message to hundreds of thousands of voters (alongside the candidates delivering their messages to voters). Congratulations again to this clean sweep locally. Sincere gratitude to these amazing volunteers. Heartfelt thanks to our Republican political vendors.

— Linda Trocine, Chairman, Republican Party of Seminole County

Population growth gives Florida crucial swing state reputation

Seminole County GOP is engaging with voters to help keep Seminole County Red.

Meanwhile, Seminole County Republican Party is preparing for Trump’s visit on Friday.

“That helps us in Florida. That helps us in Seminole, and of course that helps the president,” Seminole County Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Trocine said.

She said this election is about safety and jobs, and supporters will be door knocking, holding phone banks, and hosting events to engage voters.

“He loves the American people. He wants us to be prosperous. He’s done so many things. He’s kept his promises, and he’s going to do a lot more for America,” Trocine said.

Read full article here:

With Trump Rally Canceled, Florida Republicans Press On With Voter Outreach

Seminole GOP adjust quickly to cancelation of Trump visit to Sanford on Friday to concentrate on voter outreach and keeping the momentum going to election Republicans to office.

“In 2016, we voted for the president a little over 1 percent,” said Linda Trocine, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Seminole County. “Seminole County has close elections and this November is no different.”

Despite the canceled rally, which was expected to draw several thousand supporters to Sanford International Airport, Trocine said her group will continue to push outreach and voting efforts.

“We have a great deal of enthusiasm,” Trocine said. “This election is about safety and jobs, and that’s what’s most important to Seminole County voters.”

Read full article here:–republicans-ramp-up-voter-outreach-

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