School Board member Sally Hunt’s “chronic” absences drew criticism from fellow-Board member Cheryl Massaro at today’s meeting, concerns about the functioning of a board that, without a majority, could see many of its actions fail (a 2-2 vote is equivalent to the death of a motion) and questions about Hunt’s seat when she resign, as she said she will.
Flagler School Board
When Cheryl Massaro was elected to the Flagler County School Board a little over three years ago, she intended to serve one term. The past year’s aberrations on the board by its three rookies and constituents’ pressures on her not to retire in the face of those aberrations changed her mind. Massaro is running again.
Dr. Paul Mucciolo, an emergency-medicine physician at AdventHealth Palm Coast, declared his candidacy for the District 3 seat on the Flagler County School Board to bring back “a healthy dose of professionalism” to the board, he said, and to return the school district to an A-rated organization. Mucciolo is running for the seat Colleen Conklin has held since 2000. Conklin has elected not to run again in 2024, as has Cheryl Massaro, though Massaro may not have entirely closed the door on another run.
Some Florida GOP lawmakers want to see if voters think local school boards should be partisan — meaning school board members could be Democrats, Republicans, or another signifier of political alignments.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed to further politicize local school board elections — a way to get more conservatives on those boards that oversee Florida’s massive public education system.
Colleen Conklin’s and Cheryl Massaro’s decision will have far-reaching consequences, ensuring that the new board in 2024 will have the shortest combined experience on the board in at least two decades and a half and giving the culture-war hard-right another opening to win a majority.
The school board’s swearing in and reorganization meeting began on a note of unity but quickly turned to muted contention in a pair of telling 3-2 votes that renew the same split the board has contended with for the past several years.
Contrary to media interpretations, Democrats underperformed woefully nationally, and in Flagler County they were again all but wiped out. To survive locally they have two choices: either run their candidates as Republicans (and support other moderate Republicans), or keep dying at the polls.
For Flagler County and Palm Coast, it is an election of new faces: four races, four newcomers to elected office: Leann Pennington won a seat on the County Commission, Theresa Pontieri and Cathy Heighter won seats to the Palm Coast City Council, and Will Furry won a Flagler County School Board seat.
For nearly 70 years, federal law has barred churches from directly involving themselves in political campaigns, but the IRS has largely abdicated its enforcement responsibilities as churches have become more brazen about publicly backing candidates.