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John Fischer, Flagler County School Board Candidate: The Live Interview (2014)

| August 24, 2014

John Fischer, a first-term incumbent, refused to answer questions on his candidacy. (© FlaglerLive)

John Fischer, a first-term incumbent, refused to answer questions on his candidacy. (© FlaglerLive)

John Fischer is one of eight candidates for Flagler County School Board in the Aug. 26 primary election, and one of four running in District 2. He’s a first-term incumbent. 

Links to the Live Interviews

School Board Candidates:
Maria Barbosa (Dist. 1)
Andy Dance (Dist. 1)
Toni Baker (Dist. 2)
Lynnette Callender (Dist. 2)
John Fischer (Dist. 2)
Janet McDonald (Dist. 2)
Michael McElroy (Dist. 4)
Trevor Tucker (Dist. 4)

County Commission Candidates:
Dennis McDonald (Dist. 2)
Nate McLaughlin (Dist. 4)
Frank Meeker (Dist. 2)
Mark Richter (Dist. 4)

Palm Coast City Council Candidates:
Woody Douge (Dist. 4)
Bill Lewis (Dist. 4)
Steven Nobile (Dist. 4)
Joel Rosen (Dist. 2)
Anne-Marie Shaffer (Dist. 2)
Heidi Shipley (Dist. 2)
Norman Weiskopf (Dist. 4)

The three school board elections–for District 1, 2 and 4–are non-partisan races: all registered voters in Flagler County are eligible to cast a ballot in all three races–whether registered Democratic, Republican, Independent or from a minor party.

You may cast a vote in both races regardless of the district, the town or the subdivision you live in. The election on Aug. 26 will decide the winner in District 1 and District 4, because each of those races have just two candidates (incumbent Andy Dance and Maria Barbosa in District 1, incumbent Trevor Tucker and Michael McElroy in District 4).  So this is it for those two races, but not necessarily for the race for District 2, which features four candidates–incumbent John Fischer, Toni Baker, Lynette Calender and Janet McDonald. The race in this case would be decided only if a candidate wins better than 50 percent of the vote. Short of that, the top two vote-getters will go on to a run-off, to be decided in the general election on Nov. 4. 

FlaglerLive submitted 15 identical questions to the school board candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Questions appear in bold, follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in bold and italics, and may be awaiting answers. When a candidate fails to answer a question, that’s noted in red. The questions and follow-ups attempt to elicit precise answers, but the candidates don’t always comply.

In this case, Fischer refused to turn in any answers. A sense of his philosophy may be glimpsed from his previous interview in 2010, available here

School board members serve four-year terms and are paid $31,640 a year.

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

CANDIDATE: The Basics:

Place and Date of Birth: Dec. 22, 1944. 
Current job: School Board member, District 2.
Net worth: $397,826. Click here for financial disclosure form.
Political affiliation (keeping in mind that school board races are non-partisan): Independent.
Websites: None provided.

1.     Why are you running for school board, or running for re-election, and what makes you the best person for this public service job? What is your vision for public education in Flagler County?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

2.     Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, what your temperament is like: what would your enemies say is your best quality, and what would your friends say is your worst fault? Give is real-life examples to illustrate your answer.

John Fischer did not answer the question.

Click On:

3.     Describe the scope of your job as school board member as you understand it: what’s your primary responsibility? What’s in your power to influence on a day-to-day basis? What is not in your power to do?


John Fischer did not answer the question.

4. What are the education gaps or weaknesses in the districts—in other words, where and who the district is failing most? What are the brightest successes?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

5.      Common Core has caused a good deal of controversy, much of it invented out of thin air, most if not all of it irrelevant to Flagler County. Define common core as you understand it. Explain your position regarding common core. And understanding that the Florida Standards have rendered it a non-issue for Flagler, tell us whether you are campaigning for or against common core, and if so, why. 

John Fischer did not answer the question.

6. School taxes: Do you consider them high, low or just right? How much do you, as a school board member, control the setting of school taxes, and if you’ve been campaigning against high taxes, explain your position, and how relevant it is given your very limited powers as a school board member in that regard. 

John Fischer did not answer the question.

7.      Name your three specific priorities you intend to achieve as a school board members within the scope of the doable—not pie-in-the-sky stuff, not generalities. That is, three priorities you’ll be able to say, four years down the line, that you’ve achieved.

John Fischer did not answer the question.

8.      The IB program at FPC is the district’s most academically rigorous and accomplished program, serving a small but high-performing class of students beginning with the pre-IB program in 9th grade. What is your opinion of the program, how committed are you to its continuation, and would you support its expansion, or an expansion of a similarly themed feeder program, at Buddy Taylor Middle School, as is being considered currently?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

9.      Evaluate Superintendent Jacob Oliva, based on what you know, specifying how supportive—or not—you are of his administrative approach. 

John Fischer did not answer the question.

10.      Who on the board currently is the board member most closely aligned with your idea of a school board member and why?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

11.  If you had a choice of running the school district with a teacher union or without one, what would that choice be, and why?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

12. Charter schools have had a very checkered history in Flagler, with pronounced failures—Heritage, Outreach Academy—several rejected applications, and sharply contrasting growth and success for Imagine School at Town Center, and this year’s remarkable turn-around, from F to A, for Palm Harbor Academy. How do you see charter schools fitting in public-school equation, and what are the most important criteria by which you’d approve (or reject) a charter school application? Also, what’s your position on vouchers in public education. 

John Fischer did not answer the question.

13.  Explain zero tolerance discipline as you understand it. Explain whether it is effective, whether the approach should be reformed, and how. 

John Fischer did not answer the question.

14.   Do you find the Flagler County School Board accountable to the public on student achievement and school performance over time? If not, how should it become so? And how should the district address underperforming schools?

John Fischer did not answer the question.

15. Have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor anywhere in Flagler, Florida or the United States (other than a speeding ticket), or faced a civil action other than a divorce, but including bankruptcies? If so, please explain, including cases where charges did not lead to conviction.

John Fischer did not answer the question.

16. Opponents’ questions. 


22 Responses for “John Fischer, Flagler County School Board Candidate: The Live Interview (2014)”

  1. jadobi says:

    I find it very unprofessional for a candidate for office to ignore such a request. I think this deserves some follow-up from the editor. You would think that they would want the free, positive publicity. These questions are reasonable. Hopefully he has a valid reason.

    • Nancy N. says:

      I’m guessing he’s refusing to participate because he is upset at FlaglerLive over coverage of his wife’s accident and the circumstances surrounding it. That would make the most sense as an explanation.

  2. A.S.F. says:

    Can’t be bothered to answer any questions? Pretty arrogant!

  3. Toni Baker, Candidate for School Board says:

    I did ask a question of him. I’m not surprised. Rubber stamp doesn’t work well in a real interview.

  4. Ralph Belcher says:

    Perhaps I should consider refusing to vote for him based on his decision. (facepalm). I find that a disappointment for an elected official. Sorry, John. Wanted to give you a fair shake. This tells me something, and I’ll keep those remarks to myself.

  5. Enlightened says:

    I guess he was worried you would ask about this wife and his relationship with the ex-sheriff.

  6. Betty says:

    Tell us how you really feel

  7. fruitcake says:

    Time for him to……GO !

  8. Will says:

    I think if he wanted to be elected, he would have answered the questions.

  9. confidential says:

    Too much baggage to carry for a live interview. As far is my concern he is a very bad example for our students. He got elected by local blinded GOP voters that also elected his buddy Sheriff Fleming. His reign is over as his buddy’s was. The reality implications in his wife hit and run intended cover up stain his credentials forever. My personal interaction with him was unpleasant to say the least as he was very angry at me because at almost 70 and by error confused his name with Mr. Tucker’s. He not only loudly complained at me but gave me his “coldest eyes remark”. This while I was demonstrating in support of our schools and along our teachers, students and parents by Kohl’s in Belle Terre, against our bad Governor’s Rick Scott cuts to education back then.

  10. Genie says:

    I did not vote for John Fischer.

  11. openminded says:

    Politics are always confusing. At least his behavior eliminated him as a choice to vote for. No need for any of us to waste our time trying to figure out why he remained silent. Prior to this, I was actually considering voting for him. He’s out.

  12. Wow says:

    I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he is one of the ONLY school board members at School functions. But after this in your face move, I am not so sure.

  13. tulip says:

    Fischer mae attend all the school functions, so what. He should’ve attended to his constituents by answering the questions like everyone else did. To arrogantly ignore the opportunity to express his opinions to the public and to give the public a chance to know him better, is a black mark against is character.

  14. Heading North says:

    Ok- he didn’t answer any of the questions!
    Next step for the voters???
    Vote his pompous $&@: out!
    $31K to be on the school board?? Seriously?? To attend a meeting once a month or so?
    Where I’m from school board members serve voluntarily, without compensation, and are grateful to the people who elected them!

    • Nancy N. says:

      Fact check: School Board meets at least twice a month, sometimes more if they schedule extra workshops, plus members have responsibilities to prepare for meetings and attend some school events. Different board members attend events to varying degrees. John Fischer is known for attending many events. I’ve run into him often at my daughter’s school.

      That said, I have mixed feelings about the board being compensated. I’m from up north and the boards there are not compensated. However I think we require more of our boards than is required where I am from. While limiting the position to volunteering may attract only those with a passion to serve, it also limits the position to those who are fairly well off financially, and encourages people to not take the position seriously while occupying it since it isn’t a “real” job. You get what you pay for?

    • Out of Curiosity says:

      And don’t forget the health insurance!

    • Gina Sanders says:

      Where I’m from, also, school board members serve voluntarily, without compensation, and are grateful to the people who elected them!

  15. Devrie says:

    We put a lot of trust in these people, especially when they are earning more than the per capita income for most residents in the county working a full-time 40 hour or more week jobs.

  16. Dave says:

    Another one that has to go !

  17. Gina Sanders says:

    I don’t want to vote for either of these candidates. I wish there was someone else.

  18. Jaye says:

    I also do not wish to vote for either one of these two candidates. One overkills with the answers, the other has nothing to say. Duh ….

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