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Campaign Notes: Dwyer Backs Craig, Sword and Fischer Vie for Teachers’ Attention

| October 28, 2010

Early bleaching. (© FlaglerLive)

With early voting already mostly done and five days left before the general election, local candidates and campaigners are making their final pitches in the two races and one ballot measure with the most consequence locally: The judicial race to fill Kim Hammond’s circuit court seat, the school board race to fill Evie Shellenberger‘s seat, and the ballot measure on continuing the .25-mill school tax.

In the 7th Circuit judicial race between Joe Horrox and Dennis Craig, Bunnell attorney Marc Dwyer, who ran for the seat and was eliminated, said on Wednesday he was throwing his support to Craig.

“Craig is my man,” Dwyer said. “He’s a workhorse. He’ll jump in with both hands and take on the workload.”

Sid Nowell was also in the race for that seat. Nowell said he would not be endorsing either candidate. He said both are qualified, but both have limitations: Craig’s vast experience in civil litigation is there, but it was out of state (in Pennsylvania), Nowell said, and the seat he’s seeking is all civil litigation. Horrox’s experience has been entirely in civil litigation, but narrowly so: he’s been focused almost exclusively on personal injury law. Nowell said they can both grow on the job, though he’d have preferred to see a judge ready to hit the ground running.

Dwyer’s endorsement may be significant: Dwyer was the third-highest vote getter in a field of six candidates, carrying 20,222 votes, or 19 percent of the total. Craig polled 26 percent, Horrox 25 percent.

But true to a race conducted on a razor’s edge from the start, Dwyer’s endorsement may be offset by Daytona Beach attorney John Selden‘s, who came in fourth in the race, with 15 percent of the vote. Selden said that knowing the position will involve civil litigation, Horrox “has the better background and experience to handle the specific load that’s going to be assigned initially.” Like Nowell, Selden said the two candidates both have strengths and weaknesses, and that ultimately the position’s responsibilities will vary.

Sword-Fischer on WNZF
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In the race for Flagler County School Board, Raven Sword and John Fischer are battling door-to-door and taking their show on airwaves. Last Friday both appeared on Parick Kelly’s Free for All Fridays show for 22 minutes. You can hear the full segment through the clip to the right.

This week, Sword who’s been working to win the support of teachers, sent a letter reiterating her position that while she won’t make promises she can’t keep–a veiled criticism of Fischer, who’s been making promises about salary raises without knowing whether he can keep them–“I can guarantee,” Sword said, “that I will fight for the right solution to the problem. At this time, it would be irresponsible for me to commit to salary increases without careful consideration of the budget.”

Sword, however, supports continuing the .25-mill tax, which has been on the books for years and brings in about $2 million a year, and without which raises would be more difficult. Fischer opposes the tax, though he also misunderstands it, portraying it still as a new tax.

Neither candidate has provided specifics on the most vexing issue before the school board: how to deal with budget constraints. Fischer talks of wanting to do a line-by-line budget review, which is what every incoming board member generally says, only to find out that those line-by-line reviews have already been done. Sword talks about taking advantage of grants and better utilizing retired teachers in the community, as volunteers. But Sword does recognize the inequitable system in the so-called “step” program that grants teachers a salary increase with every year served. Teachers have been getting “step” increases almost every year, but not last year because of budget constraints.

“We need to negotiate a fair and an equitable plan for addressing the inconsistencies in our Step program for veteran teachers,” Sword wrote. “I have the negotiating skills that will be invaluable in crafting a workable solution.” Fischer did not respond when contacted for his reaction to Sword’s letter.

Sword also produced, for $300, a television ad airing this week on various stations, along with a radio ad airing on WNZF. The television ad is below:

On Wednesday evening, School Board Chairperson Evie Shellenberger held the last of five town hall meetings on the school tax, that one at the Hammock Community Center off A1A. Each of the five board members led one of the meetings, none of which was well attended: At most, 12 people turned up at a meeting held at Buddy Taylor Middle School two weeks ago. Half that number turned up at meetings in Flagler Beach, Bunnell and the Palm Coast community center.

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1 Response for “Campaign Notes: Dwyer Backs Craig, Sword and Fischer Vie for Teachers’ Attention”

  1. Marisa Lecount says:

    The biggest unsaid thing about this whole debate is that the tax cuts are ALREADY in place RIGHT NOW. So where are all these jobs that the cuts are supposed to create? Are the millionaires spending their current extra 3% to create jobs? No…not at all. What a freaking disaster. This was a pitiful failure on the part of the president.

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