MANATEE COUNTY -- A fourth -- and final -- candidate has emerged for the Manatee County School District 5 seat.
James Golden, a former Bradenton City Council member and 2010 Congressional candidate, qualified for the non-partisan race for Julie Aranibar's school board seat on Friday, the deadline for qualifying.
Golden did not return calls for comment on Friday.
Golden is running against Aranibar, the current board member, outgoing MTI director Mary Cantrell and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Carlton "Les" Nichols, making the District 5 seat the most vied for seat this year. The seat covers the eastern part of the county, south of 64.
Aranibar said she is not surprised another contender joined the race.
"We've had change in the district and some people want to go forward and some people want to go back," she said.
Aranibar said her mission is to be vigilant in protecting the district and her board experience from this term has readied her for future challenges the district faces.
Nichols said he was surprised another candidate would join the race so late in the game, as it gives the candidate a limited amount of time to campaign and gain support from voters. Nichols declared his intention for the seat in August.
With that in mind, having four people running for one seat is always a good sign for the democratic process, Nichols said.
"It's always a good thing
when people want to serve the public," he said. "It means people want change."
Nichols predicted the District 5 seat would end in a runoff election in November after the primary election on Aug. 26.
"I do see myself in the runoff in November," he said.
Cantrell, the final candidate, did not return a call for comment on Friday afternoon.
Two other school board seats are also up for grabs. All Manatee County residents are eligible to cast ballots in each of the school board races.
The District 2 seat, currently held by Barbara Harvey, will be battled out between Rodney Jones and Charlie Kennedy. Harvey is not seeking to regain her seat. The District 4 seat will be a two-way contest between incumbent Karen Carpenter and Frank Brunner.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.