Manatee County School Board District 1 member Bob Gause will not run for re-election in 2016, he said Monday.
Gause was first elected to the seat in 2006 and recently finished serving a one-year term as chair of the board. Gause said when he was first elected in 2006, it was his intention to spend 10 years serving.
“Right now, I want to focus on my family and my business,” Gause said, adding he never intended to take his commitment to the school board past 10 years. “You’ve got to have new blood.”
Gause was first elected in 2006, to finish out two years on a term left vacant when Frank Brunner left the school board to run for a seat on the county commission. At the time, Gause was heavily involved with his son’s education at Palmetto High and wanted to take his commitment to the next level. Gause was re-elected in 2008 and 2012.
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While he said he is not completely closing the door on one day returning to public service, Gause also confirmed he has no intentions to run for the District 1 county commission seat, currently held by Larry Bustle.
In the past 10 years, Gause said he’s proud of the decisions the school board has made, even in dire financial times created both by an economic recession and district officials misspending and misallocating money to create a deficit of more than $3 million. Twice in Gause’s tenure the board voted to cut salaries, in an effort to protect students services, he said.
“That wasn’t fun,” he said. “That wasn’t popular.”
Gause said he thinks people appreciated the board made the hard decisions, to “do what had to be done.” Gause said he’s proud the district was able to stay focused on students and student services.
“It’s been a rewarding experience, I’ve learned a lot.”
Gause said he looked forward to the remaining 11 months he has to serve on the board, when the district will have to tackle topics including the sales tax and healthcare costs for employees.
“This is going to be a year of hard work,” he said.
Two candidates have already declared for the District 1 seat, which covers the northern part of the county — excluding downtown Palmetto — extending to the eastern border. Xtavia Bailey, a 36-year-old Palmetto resident and 1997 Manatee High School graduate, and Edward Viltz, a teacher at a Title I charter school with a background in entrepreneurship and business, have already declared their intention for the seat.
Gause’s advice for the candidates?
“Never let anything distract you from the job in front of you,” he said.
The District 1 seat is one of three school board seats up for grabs in the 2016 election cycle.
The District 3 seat held by Dave Miner is also up for election. Miner has filed for re-election and is being challenged so far by Sadie Montanus, a teacher at Palmetto High School who has also worked on state policy; and Misty Servia, a planner at an engineering firm and active member of a number of local boards.
The District 3 seat covers west Manatee, including Anna Maria Island.
The public will also elect someone to fill the rest of the four-year term for the District 5 seat previously held by the late Mary Cantrell. Cantrell died in office in July during a term set to run until 2018. John Colon, a former state Board of Education member, was appointed to the seat and has also filed to run for the remainder of the term.
The District 5 seat covers Lakewood Ranch and the eastern part of the county south of State Road 64.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.