BRADENTON — Julie Aranibar on Tuesday easily unseated Manatee County school board chairwoman Jane Pfeilsticker for the District 3 seat.
With 50,611 votes, or 55.9 percent, Aranibar ousted incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker, who was seeking her second four-year term. She had 39,926 votes, or 44.1 percent of the vote.
“Tonight was the voters’ chance to speak and what they said was they want me to represent the children and the teachers,” said Aranibar, as she celebrated her victory with family and supporters at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.
Over clapping and cheers, Aranibar, 51, called it a great day for students in Manatee County.
“Our children don’t have a vote, but tonight they have a board member that’s going to listen,” she said. “I’ve had a very, very tough end to this campaign, but I’m grateful my supporters have stayed on. I’m grateful to end this personally not hurting the chairperson of our school board.”
Pfeilsticker, who stayed at home, said she was disappointed with the results.
“I called her and wished her good luck, and I will do whatever I can do to make the transition as smooth as possible and to keep as much stability as possible,” said Pfeilsticker, 54, a State College of Florida professor first elected to the board in 2006.
Throughout the campaign, Aranibar claimed she was targeted by Pfeilsticker with a smear campaign to undermine her reputation. Pfeilsticker attacked Aranibar’s troubled financial past — which she owned up to.
The race was the result of a runoff needed after neither Aranibar nor Pfeilsticker nor a third candidate, Albert Yusko, received a majority of the votes in the Aug. 24 primary. In the primary, Aranibar received 41.4 percent of the vote, compared to 40.8 percent for Pfeilsticker.
District 3 is an upside-down L-shaped area that covers eastern Manatee County, including Myakka City. All voters in the county were eligible to vote in the race.
Aranibar, who has been active in the local schools for the past 10 years, is currently a PTO member at Lakewood Ranch High School where her twin children attend as freshmen.
Originally from Boston, she has been a Manatee County resident since 1998 and has served on the School Sales Tax Accountability Committee & Budget Review since 2002.