BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School Board District 5 seat will be won in a run-off election in November, with incumbent Julie Aranibar and former Manatee Technical Institute Director Mary Cantrell on the ballot.
Carlton "Les" Nichols and James Golden failed to gain enough support to make it past the primary Tuesday. Neither Aranibar nor Cantrell earned enough votes to win the election outright.
"We can say with almost total certainty that Aranibar and Cantrell will go into a run-off," said Mike Bennett, Manatee County supervisor of elections.
Aranibar had a slight lead with 38 percent of the vote with 15,014 ballots in her favor, while Cantrell took 36 percent with 14,269 votes.
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Just 20 percent of registered voters turned out for the primary. Voter turnout in November, when the state will elect a new governor, is expected to be higher.
Aranibar, 55, was first elected to the board in 2010 and is now board chairwoman. Aranibar said during the race she wants to continue the board's mission and see the district continue an upward trend of academic achievement. She refused to comment about the run-off during a break in Tuesday night's school board meeting and said she would not have a comment after the meeting.
Cantrell said she expects that a higher turnout for November's election could help her.
"If I reach more people with my message before November I think a higher voter turnout will help me," she said. "I will continue to do what I do over the next two months. If I do get to join the board I will work with anyone."
In the next four years, Aranibar wants to bring 21st-century technology to district schools, implement a high school to serve the Parrish-Ellenton-Palmetto area and have a career/technical school to improve students' job-readiness.
To succeed in November, the winner will have to woo voters who cast ballots for Golden and Nichols in the primary.
Cantrell, 70, is the former head of MTI, a career/technical school run by the district. Her contract was not renewed by the district in the spring. She celebrated her race at the home of Minnie and Tom King.
"I am truly surprised it's a total tie," Cantrell said as early results came in. "But I'm very happy. It's OK. A November run off is OK."
Cantrell is currently renting in Lakewood Ranch to qualify to run. She said she plans to purchase a home in District 5 if elected.
Cantrell wants to bring the district back to school-based management and wants to work with the board to produce "real results," she said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.