Pasco County voters have one school board race to decide Aug. 14, and the decision should be easy. Joanne Hurley, the board's chairwoman the last two years, is a leader who is passionate about education and clearly deserves re-election.
Hurley, 67, who was elected in 2008, is being challenged by Don Stephenson, like the incumbent a resident of Land O' Lakes. Stephenson, 41, is a Navy veteran who works as an associate creative director for a Tampa advertising firm. He is intelligent and understands the board's mission to improve quality of education and be good stewards of tax dollars. He's a strong proponent of career academies, noting college isn't for all students, and suggests the district discuss privatizing certain functions, possibly including food service and transportation, as a way to save money.
But something Stephenson told us seems a bit odd, considering he is seeking public office. Asked about involvement in community organizations, he said he isn't an advisory board or committee "type of person."
Community involvement and service are exactly why Hurley is such a strong board member and leader. With bachelor's and master's degrees in education, she has been a classroom teacher, community relations coordinator and public information officer for Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, Pasco's recycling director, and worked on complicated growth-management issues as a member of a county committee. She is a local leader for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Her record is all about education.
Hurley, who gave up her job at the turnpike to be a full-time board member, proudly notes she does her "best work in Publix and the post office" making sure parents know she is their link to the school system. She knows the make-up of the district and its challenges — more than 40 languages are spoken by students — and has helped guide the district through difficult budget shortfalls without education quality being compromised. Her energy and commitment are impressive.
In the nonpartisan race for Pasco County School Board, District 2, the Tribune strongly endorses Joanne Hurley.