The race for the Republican nomination to Florida’s newly formed 6th congressional district, which includes all of Flagler County, has just been upended with Bev Slough’s entry: the chairman of the St. Johns School Board is first woman in the field, and, next to candidate Fred Costello, has held elected office the longest (since 2002). Starting in 1999, Costello was an Ormond Beach city commissioner, mayor and, now, Florida House member.
Slough hired Dixie Strategies, the St. Augustine political consulting and PR firm, to run her campaign.
Slough’s candidacy could capitalize on an inherent success story that usually resonates with voters: St. Johns County has been Florida’s top-rated school district for the past three years.
“Congress is in desperate need of true conservatives and common sense leadership. Over the past decade, as a School Board member, I’ve helped balance a nearly half-billion dollar budget, manage 3,600 employees and reduce spending, all while maintaining Florida’s top-rated school district,” Slough said in a release through Dixie Strategies.
The six other candidates who’ve announced so far are Costello and Craig Miller of Volusia County, Ron DeSantis, Richard Clark and Raul Espinosa of St. Johns, and Bill Kogut of Flagler County’s portion of Ormond Beach. (See fuller sketches of the candidates here.) Two candidates have announced their candidacy on the Democratic side so far: Flagler Beach’s Heather Beaven, who ran unsuccessfully against John Mica in 2010, and Vipin Verma, a Daytona Beach attorney.
The newly created 6th congressional district includes Flagler, St. Johns, most of Putnam and most of Volusia counties. It leans Republican, though the district’s large number of independents lean conservative, suggesting–absent a more convincing and better-funded case from the Democratic candidates–that the race may be decided in the Republican primary.
A native of Lufkin, Texas, who’s lived in St. Johns for the past 33 years, Slough began her local school career as a secretary at Julington Creek Elementary, then worked as a bookkeeper at Cunningham Creek Elementary and on the district’s Strategic Plan, an experience that inspired her to run for school board. She cites a school assignment dating back to 1960 as the trigger for her interest in politics. The assignment: watching the Kennedy-Nixon debates–the first televised debates in history–in preparation for a mock debate at school the following day. “You never know how much a teacher makes a difference in the lives of their students until times like this,” Slough told the St. Augustine Record in 2004.
Slough has always been active, and vocal. Though an avowed conservative, she took a stance against guns in her school’s neighborhood. When she was at Cunningham Elementary in 1997, she voiced strong and public opposition to a local businessman’s plan to open a mail-order antique gun refinishing business. The man never had plans to sell actual firearms. But the opposition was enough to dissuade him.
According to the release, Slough is president of the First Coast United Way, past president of both the Florida School Boards Association and EPIC Community Services, and an active member of the boards of St. Johns Education Foundation, PACT Prevention Coalition, Character Counts!, and JCP Cares, a Julington Creek Plantation volunteer-service organization.