Flagler County School Board incumbent Jill Woolbright, who is in a non-partisan race against Sally Hunt to be decided in the Aug. 23 election, says God placed her on the school board, that she is involved in “satanic warfare,” and that, in a reference to others on the school board and at the district office, she has “felt the evil spirits around me.”
Woolbright said “the district office is progressive liberal,” and that she and two other candidates–Will Furry and Christy Chong–things would change, because she is on a mission to take over the school board and bring back Christian prayer to the dais, at meetings and before meetings. (See a full video of Woolbright’s appearance, embedded below, and a full transcript of her remarks at the foot of the article, below the table.)
Woolbright over the weekend appeared at three local churches, including Parkview Church and New Way Church, where pastors appeared unconcerned with endorsing her, Chong and Furry, though federal law forbids churches registered as nonprofit from endorsing, encouraging, helping or favoring any specific candidate’s political race. Chong is in a race against incumbent Trevor Tucker, a conservative Republican who has been on the school board for three terms, and Furry is contesting an open seat in a three-way race. The two other candidates are Lance Alred and Courtney VandeBunte.
Woolbright spoke at both Parkview and New Way, reserving her most extreme comments for New Way, where Pastor Richard Summerlin invited her to the stage saying, “I don’t, you know, don’t care about 501(c) threes and all that stuff,” a reference to the law barring what he was doing.
Woolbright then spoke for seven minutes, picking up on the song that had just been performed to say a “breakthrough” was needed in Flagler County. “I have never in my life been in such a satanic warfare, spiritual warfare that I’ve felt for the past two years on the board, and especially during this election season,” Woolbright, in a scarlet outfight that contrasted with the deep blue background, said from the stage. “We need a breakthrough. We have not had a conservative, God-fearing majority on our board. And we don’t have it in the district office either.”
She said the two seats that are not up for election (held by Colleen Conklin and Cheryl Massaro) are “far left progressive against everything. They’re for everything we’re against.” She did not specify what she meant. “We have three seats up for election and we need conservative Christians, and the Lord has put in this race three conservative Christians,” Woolbright said of herself, Chong and Furry. “He’s heard my prayers,” she continued, “and it’s a privilege and an honor to just–I don’t even know if I call it a suffering, but to suffer like Christ suffered, right? Because nothing can happen to me here on this planet to suffer as much as my savior. So if I can join in that suffering with him just a little bit, just a little bit, then maybe there’ll be victory here.”
She then spoke of her 28 years teaching, but that it wasn’t until she realized “what was going on in our schools and why God placed me on the school board. And it’s to fight the battle for him.” She then spoke of her disbelief that a couple of teachers asked students what pronouns they wanted to be called by, saying “that’s illegal” (it is not.)
“That’s here in our county, and when I get it and see it, I reveal it,” Woolbright said. “Just like I revealed the book, that was the most obnoxious, evil book.”
Woolbright last fall filed a criminal complaint against Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt after demanding that four books be pulled from high school library shelves. The criminal complaint went nowhere, but Mittlestadt eventually agreed to keep one of the four books–All Boys Aren’t Blue, the autobiography of a Black person growing up queer in New jersey–off the shelves. Woolbright, teaming up with Board member Janet McDonald, then tried to fire School Board attorney Kristy Gavin. The effort failed. Woolbright more recently complained about a teacher, Abbey Cooke, who had filed a TikTok video with her students. The video featured a curse word. Cooke has had a storied and celebrated career in Flagler schools. But she’s also been friendly to the LGBTQ community, a Woolbright phobia. Woolbright wanted her fired. She succeeded.
Woolbright said “they can hate me all they want,” because she considers that “a blessing.” She then spoke of the “evil” she feels at the district office–an astounding statement about, if not an outright insult to, the almost 100 district employees who work there, and on whom she routinely lavishes praise at school board meetings and workshops, at least in person.
Woolbright continued: “It’s a blessing to come and be greeted and filled the God’s Holy Spirit in this place. Because when I go to the schools into the district office, because of the stand that I’ve taken for our lord and savior, I don’t feel that, right? I feel I’ve never in my life felt the evil spirits around me, and God has made my spirits sensitive to it. So I know when it’s in my presence, and I thank him for that. But I just want you to know that the battle is real here. We have an opportunity to break through take three seats, and if we take those three seats then we can break through and take over the government.” Woolbright quickly corrected herself: she meant “the district office.” That got the congregants cheering.
She bemoaned the fact that she’s been in a minority for two years, but said “God put these two other Christians in my life on this campaign trail, who are believers, Bible believers, to take over our schools back.” She named Furry and Chong: “There’s a ditty that goes, we call it Christie Will and Jill,” and described them as fellow travelers. “I look forward to being able to bring prayer to the dais,” she said, a direct reference to praying at school board meetings. “I look forward to being able to meet with Will and Christy before meetings and pray before we go on the dais.”
When she was done, Summerlin, the pastor, described Woolbright as “that fabric that’s going to stand between evil and our children” before he and his wife Kimberly joined Woolbright, touching, eyes closed, to pray and endorse: “We lay hands on Jill, agreeing with her, asking you for a special anointing, lord, that she’ll know what to say when to say it how to say it,” Summerlin said. Then, in an apparent reference to Conklin, Massaro and the many employees of the school district, he said: “And we pray lord that every evil voice that would come against her, may their tongue cleave to the roof of their mouth lord, may they be silenced.” He added: “We are fighting an ugly, evil, ungodly, unseen force that is not only after you but after our children, after our families, after our marriages, after our finances.”
Hunt, the candidate contesting Woolbright’s seat, called Woolbright’s comments “shocking.” She said she has been “invited to nothing,” and only knew about Woolbright’s and the two other candidates’ appearances at churches through postings by others–including from Woolbright’s own campaign Facebook page. “My concern is what’s coming out of her mouth than where she is doing it,” Hunt said. “There’s so much there. Where do I start? It is divisive. She is politicizing the schools with this whole messaging around ‘we versus them.’ If people do not think exactly or believe exactly as she does, they are left liberal. You’ve got someone like Trevor Tucker who has served for 12 years, who is conservative, she has personally contributed to the PAC that sent out this awful mailer that said something like radical liberalism. It’s divisive. it’s bad for our community.”
Hunt herself was raised in a Christian household (her father holds a master’s degree in divinity), was a youth minister, but she says that background has no place in public schools. “We need board members who are focused on the fact that one out of every two Rymfire students can’t read at grade level, that FPC is at a C, we need board members who aren’t focused on getting prayers at school board meetings.”
Chong and Furry did not appear with Woolbright at New Way, but all three appeared together at Parkview Church where Greg Peters invited them to the stage after a long soliloquy about the importance of voting “in order for there to be a be a majority to get a conservative school board.” Peters left no doubt that he may have been violating the law: “In 25 and a half years, not one single time ever have I invited somebody running for office to stand on our stage. I’ve never done that,” he said. “So today will be the first time, and so I thought if I was going to do it, I’d do it right and bring three of them. I said to them backstage last night, if they fire me over it, it’s been a good run. And I’ve enjoyed pastoring Parkview.” (Peters did not respond to a call and a text to his cell phone before this article initially published.)
Like Hunt, Courtney VandeBunte did not get invitations to any churches. “I think an endorsement by a church leader is inappropriate,” she said today. “I would like to see church leaders encourage their congregation to vote and learn about all candidates, not just three out of the seven, as well as invite all candidates to speak at their events.” The IRS code does, in fact, provide for such forums, or even election drives, by religious organizations–as long as no single candidate is favored. In other words, a religious organization would not be in violation of law if all the candidates in a specific race addressed the same congregation in turn.
“The implication that a Christian candidate is somehow a better candidate than me is inaccurate,” VandeBunte said, “because I am running to represent all students, their families and school staff. The fact that I am a Christian should have nothing to do with my platform because our Christian and non-Christian constituents deserve fair representation. As a former teacher I understand that every student has different needs and every family has unique circumstances, backgrounds, and beliefs. I advocate for common sense policies, and unity among families, students, and staff of all beliefs.”
The following is a full transcript of Jill Woolbright’s speech at New Way Church:
“What an honor and a privilege to be able to stand before you and I give all glory and fame to my father in heaven. Breakthrough. What a perfect song. We need a breakthrough in Flagler County and we live in an amazing state with an amazing governor that has our back. But we need not to rest on that. Because I can tell you here in Flagler County the fight for the souls of our children is real. I have never–I’ve been a Christian my whole life but I have never in my life been in such a satanic warfare, spiritual warfare that I’ve felt for the past two years on the board, and especially during this election season. We need a breakthrough. We have not had a conservative God-fearing majority on our board. And we don’t have it in the district office either. Three seats are up for election. The two seats that are not up for election are far far left progressives against everything. Therefore everything we’re against. We have three seats up for election and we need conservative Christians and the lord has put in this race, three conservative Christians.
And I have–he’s heard my prayers and it’s a privilege and an honor to just, I don’t even know if I call it a suffering but to suffer like Christ suffered, right? Because nothing can happen to me here on this planet to suffer as much as my savior. So if I can join in that suffering with him just a little bit, just a little bit, then maybe there’ll be victory here. Right? And so I just want you to know that my family has been here since the 80s. We raised our four children here. They’ve gone on and live productive lives and their successful citizens giving back to their communities. I taught here for 28 years. I taught when Melissa  back there many years, she taught some of my children. I’ve taught generations of people in this community, and I taught in the elementary school for 28 years and it wasn’t until I retired that I realized and became and got on the board what was going on in our schools and why God placed me on the school board, and it’s to fight the battle for him.
I will tell you that the stuff that’s going around, going on nationwide, is happening right here in Flagler schools. Don’t think that it’s not happening here. I got a call from a parent after the second day of school that said two teachers gave my high school students a questionnaire online that asked them what pronouns they prefer to be called by. That’s illegal. The second question was who was allowed to know their preferred pronouns? Which, obviously, one of the questions was whether the parents were allowed to hear those preferred pronouns being used. That’s here in our county, and when it comes, when I get it and see it, I reveal it. Just like I revealed the book that was the most obnoxious, evil book.
And they can hate on me all they want, and I tell you, it was a blessing. I went to another church this morning. I’m going to another one. It’s a blessing to come and be greeted and filled with God’s Holy Spirit in this place. Because when I go to the schools, into the district office, because of the stand that I’ve taken for our Lord and Savior, I don’t feel that, right? I feel I’ve never in my life felt the evil spirits around me, and God has made my spirits sensitive to it. So I know when it’s in my presence, and I thank him for that.
But I just want you to know that the battle is real here. We have an opportunity to break through, take three seats, and if we take those three seats, then we can break through and take over the government–the district office. My voice has been in a minority for two years and the the district office is progressive liberal. So until I’m just trusting and believing that God put these two other Christians in my life on this campaign trail, who are believers, Bible believers, to take over our schools back, and if I may use their names? There’s a ditty that goes, we call it Christy Will and Jill. That’s the first three names of the conservative Christians and it took me a while to get on board with the other two, because as a elected official I really shouldn’t because I have to work with whoever is elected. But God has shown me in this journey, that Christy Chong is a woman of God. She’s not just trying to get votes in a church. She knows our lord and savior and is walking it with her children. As is Will Furry. He is a man of God. They both attend Epic Church, Will is in youth ministry with the middle school there. I’m telling you, they are walking the walk so it wasn’t hard for me to get behind them. I look forward to being able to bring prayer to the dais. I look forward to being able to meet with Will and Christy before meetings and pray before we go on the dias.
And no matter what happens all glory and fame goes to my lord and savior because he gives us what we want, often. He gave our lord and savior over to Barabbas, he chose our–Barabbas over our lord and savior right? The people chose a murderer over our savior, but it was all for God’s glory. And for our good because in the end, we know who wins. We know who wins in the end. We don’t know what trials and tribulations we have to go through. But we know who the victor is. Thank you.”