Challenger Misty Servia came out on the offensive Thursday, calling Manatee County School Board member Dave Miner a “bad dog” who she said is recycling an old newspaper column and passing it off as a new endorsement on his campaign materials.
During an East Manatee Republican Club luncheon at the Peridia Golf & Country Club, Servia said she had tried to stay positive in the race so far, but after the primary election and with the general election drawing closer, voters in Manatee County needed to hear the truth.
“Dave Miner has not been a watchdog, he’s been a bad dog,” Servia said, referring to Miner’s self-anointed nickname.
When he spoke, Miner said those who know him would take Servia’s word “with a grain of salt.” He also criticized her for not coming forward with ideas to help improve the school board during board meetings.
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Other local candidates who are seeking voter approval in November also spoke during the luncheon, including Manatee County School District 1 candidate Gina Messenger and Manatee County Commission At-Large incumbent Betsy Benac.
I guess I should be glad that nobody knows I have an opponent.
Betsy Benac, Manatee County at-large commissioner
Servia pointed to Miner’s campaign materials, which include a quote from a Bradenton Herald column that Miner passes off as an endorsement, Servia said. The quote is taken out of context — calling Miner a “gadfly” before saying “that gadfly is on the public’s side” — and is from 2008.
“He pulled a comment from eight years ago and portrayed it as an endorsement,” she said. “This is just one example.”
Servia added she’s worked hard to get more than 50 local endorsements during her current campaign.
Miner said he has shown he wants to run a positive campaign. He added that although Superintendent Diana Greene couldn’t endorse a candidate in the race, she had “praised his efforts” as a school board member.
When criticizing Servia, Miner stayed true to what he has said through the entire election: Servia hasn’t been involved with the school board, saying you don’t have to be on the school board to get involved and help students and parents.
“I’m not one to sit on the sidelines and complain about things. I’ve been doing things,” Miner said.
Promising “less fireworks than her friends in District 3,” Messenger said her classroom experience in low-income public schools in Marion County would be a valuable asset on the school board.
Messenger’s opponent, Ed Viltz, was not invited to speak at the luncheon because he is not a registered Republican. School board races are countywide and aren’t run on party lines, but the Republican clubs only invite Republican candidates to speak.
Messenger said as a teacher, she would bring a different perspective to making decisions on the school board.
“Often, the right questions aren’t even asked,” she said.
Benac boasted about the good changes the county has made since she was elected, adding she is “the only real Republican voting in the race.”
Benac criticized Jack Richardson, who is running with no party affiliation, for getting into the race the same day as the qualifying deadline.
“He is totally clueless,” she said.