MANATEE -- An unofficial candidate for the Manatee County School Board seat is potentially breaking campaign election finance laws by soliciting donations on a campaign website before completing the necessary paperwork with the county supervisor of elections office.
A website and Facebook page have been set up for Sadie Montanus' campaign for the District 3 school board seat held by board member Dave Miner. Montanus said the website was inadvertently made public.
The website itself is not necessarily an issue, elections supervisor Mike Bennett said. But soliciting donations is not allowed.
"There are many ways you can get plugged into my campaign, especially financially. Please consider donating in order to allow me to fight for you," the website reads.
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"That would probably be a violation," Bennett said, adding his office will talk to Montanus about it.
Sharon Stief in the elections office confirmed no new candidates had filed paperwork as of 4:35 p.m. Tuesday.
When reached Tuesday, Montanus said publishing the site was a mistake on her part as she was creating the website herself and hit the publish button instead of the save button.
"It's not me trying to be sneaky," Montanus said.
Montanus has been working on her campaign all summer, she said and was planning to launch her campaign officially in a couple weeks. Montanus pointed out there is no place to actually donate
money on her site, which she took down Tuesday.
Montanus, a Bradenton Christian School and Florida State University alumna, is a history teacher at Palmetto High School, according to her site. She is an active member of the Junior League of Manatee County, a delegate for the Hernando De Soto Historical Society as Miss DeSoto Heritage, a member of the Republican Executive Committee, and a member of West Bradenton Baptist Church, her website says.
The District 3 seat is one of three up for grabs in 2016. The District 3 seat covers West Manatee and Anna Maria Island.
Miner has not yet filed for re-election, but Misty Servia, a Planning Department manager at King Engineering Associates and a Bradenton resident, filed in July.
Servia blogged about Montanus' website on her campaign page, saying Montanus is probably just "naive" and "overly ambitious" but also saying "the school board has faced far too many allegations in recent years of skirting the rules."
Voters will also pick a candidate for the District 1 seat held by board Chairman Bob Gause. Gause has not filed for re-election.
The District 1 seat covers the northern part of the county, excluding downtown Palmetto, extending to the eastern border.
Xtavia Bailey, a Palmetto resident, and Edward Viltz, who works at Team Success, have filed for the seat.
It's also likely voters will pick a permanent candidate for the District 5 seat, which opened after board member Mary Cantrell died in July. The governor is expected to pick a replacement to serve until the 2016 elections when the public will elect a candidate to finish out the four-year term until 2018. The District 5 seats covers the eastern part of the county south of State Road 64.
The governor has not yet appointed a replacement.
School board elections in Manatee County are nonpartisan and voters across the county can vote for each seat. Candidates must reside in the district they are running to represent.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.