It is best if Manatee County School Board members are elected by those who know them best, the voters in the district in which the candidate resides. I agree with board Chairman Charlie Kennedy’s view that county-wide elections are too prone to influence by outside or special interest groups.
In one of last year’s two races (between incumbent Dave Miner and challenger Misty Servia), the voting results in precincts within the district being contested, and those for the county at large, were notable. Those who knew the winning candidate best (those precincts within his district) supported him by a larger margin.
They were less influenced by the money poured into the race by outside interests supporting his opponent. In fact, the race would likely have ended with the August primary election if only those precincts within School Board District 3 were counted.
Smaller electorates encourage grass-roots campaigning and reduce the influence of money spent on media and online campaigning. That is a good thing after seeing how fake news spread online has come to dominate politics.
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However, I don’t see the need for two “at-large” members to be added to the school board. Doing so would only increase costs for the district and risk creating factions on the board. Consensus-building is more complicated with seven members than with five.