Earl Lennard endorses Paula Meckley in crowded Hillsborough County School Board race

There are a lot of candidates running in the District 6 Hillsborough County School Board race, elections for which take place next month — eight of them, actually. Many of them entered the contest assuming that the seat was an open one, with incumbent April Griffin announcing in 2013 that she would be moving on to bigger and better things, specifically the Democratic nomination for County Commission in the countywide District 7 campaign.

But Griffin dropped out of that race and then announced a few months ago that she would run again for another four years in District 6. And while her name recognition theoretically makes her the favorite, there are a number of interesting candidates who are running hard to at least make it to a runoff with her in the fall.

One of those candidates is Paula Meckley, who today announced that she had been endorsed by former School Board Superintendent Dr. Earl Lennard. 

"I’m proud to announce my endorsement of Paula’s candidacy for the Hillsborough County School Board,” Lennard said in a statement released by the Meckley campaign. “Paula’s dedication to Hillsborough’s public school system has been evident in her nearly 20 years of giving students, parents and teachers a voice through her leadership and PTA efforts. To continue building upon the growth and improvements the district has experienced over the years, we must elect individuals who understand how to impact student achievement and foster conversations that drive improvement, and Paula is that person to guide Hillsborough County to further success.”

If you go by fundraising totals, then Meckley is totally in the mix. Currently she has raised $62,800, trailing only attorney Dipa Shaw ($85,041) in that category. Other candidates include college student Asher Edelson (who will turn 20 in the next week), Green Party candidate Randy Toler, Temple Terrace City Council member Alison McGillivray Fernandez, USF professor Stacy Hahn, and Lee Sierra, who works in real estate.

Lennard previously endorsed Melissa Snively in the District 4 race (where she is competing against Terry Kemple and Dee Prather). He served as superintendent from 1996-2005.

The other race is in District 2, where Michelle Popp Shimberg is dominating in the fundraising with over $93,000 raise. She's served 18 years on the Citizen Advisory Committee to the School Board as chair, vice-chair and scholarship chair. She also served two terms as national president of Delta Delta Delta, a women’s fraternal organization with more than 150,000 members, where she supervised a multimillion-dollar budget. She's running against Sally Harris and Michael Weston, who is a fierce critic of high-stakes testing in Florida schools.

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