The Herald recommends: Robert Moates, Manatee County school board, District 2

July 25, 2012 

Robert Moates stands out among the candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the School Board of Manatee County with his combination of classroom and political experience. He teaches economics and government at Lakewood Ranch High. Prior to joining the school district, Moates served as a congressional aide to Rep. Dan Miller of Bradenton and in several capacities in the Florida Legislature.

His broad background on education and public policy issues, drafting legislation and shaping budgets and priorities will bring a unique skill set to the school board.

His opponents in this crowded nonpartisan race include Palmetto High School math teacher William Chaltis, Bradenton attorney Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County executive director Paul Sharff, who has not conducted an active campaign. Should none of the four candidates earn more than 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 14 election, the two with the most votes will face one another on the November ballot.

The winner will replace the retiring Harry Kinnan, who has served on the school board with distinction since 1996.

Born and raised in Manatee County and a product of its school system, Moates has been teaching at Lakewood Ranch High since 2003. In deciding to return to politics, this time in a leadership role, he intends to improve accountability in both the classroom and downtown administration.

As a legislative analyst on the Rules, Ethics and Elections Committee, he helped rewrite Florida election law following the state's tainted 2000 presidential balloting. This and his other experience in legislative matters should help him achieve his accountability goals for the school district.

Moates also helped pass laws restructuring state tax codes and protecting condominium associations. And he worked on education reform in Florida.

He wants to shift the district's focus to freeing teachers to innovate while meeting high standards, starting in kindergarten through third grade. He aims to change the budgeting culture in the district, putting students and classrooms first in line for funding, not administrative departments. Every board decision, he says, must be based on its impact to student learning.

Moates also says the board must be transparent and work together to win back the public's trust. We concur.

His education experience includes some top-tier classes -- honors economics and advanced American government and politics.

Should Moates win the election, he has pledged to resign his teaching position.

For the past 12 years, Miner has been a fixture at school board meetings as an advocate for financial accountability and transparency. A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Miner has worked in his own law practice since 1978. With a degree in accounting,

Chaltis understands budgets and owned a small business for almost two decades before joining the school district. Both are to be commended for their desire for public office.

The Herald Editorial Board believes Moates offers the strongest skill set and broadest background in this race. We recommend Robert Moates for District 2, School Board of Manatee County.

Candidate rebuttals

Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board's endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 300 words by 5 p.m. the day after the endorsement appears in print. Those can be sent to letters@bradenton.com or faxed to 745-7047.

View candidate forums

Several weeks ago, The Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, videotaped candidate forums in these contested races.

These forums can be viewed on www.bradenton.com on the "Recent Multimedia" page. METV is also regularly airing all the forums. For airtimes, visit www.metvweb.com.

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