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Messenger, Viltz head to November District 1 school board race

Ed Viltz, running for the Manatee County School Board District 1 seat, participates in a candidate forum at METV.
Ed Viltz, running for the Manatee County School Board District 1 seat, participates in a candidate forum at METV. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Ed Viltz and Gina Messenger emerged as the top two candidates to replace Bob Gause as the District 1 Manatee County School Board member during the primary election Tuesday.

From a field of four candidates, Viltz and Messenger earned 28 percent and 27 percent of the vote, respectively. Viltz came in ahead of Messenger by about 408 votes. Both candidates said they were feeling great on Tuesday night.

“We’ve got to recognize the high bar that the other candidates set,” Viltz said from Touch of Class Restaurant and Lounge on Tuesday night.

Xtavia Bailey earned 20 percent of the votes Tuesday, and Linda Schaich tallied 24 percent.

Reached Tuesday at her home, Messenger said she felt like an underdog in the race but was glad to earn voter support.

“I was hoping people would realize we would need a teacher,” she said.

Messenger said her experience teaching in Title I public schools — she worked for six years in Marion County before moving back to Manatee — would help her edge out Viltz in November.

Viltz has been a teacher in public charter schools, but Messenger said Tuesday that creates a different atmosphere than working in a public school.

Looking forward to November, Viltz said he thinks his experience and his resume will set him apart from Messenger, when compared to Messenger’s background.

“I think they speak for themselves,” he said.

Schaich could not be reached on Tuesday but said Monday she expected the race to be “anticlimatic.”

“I’ll either lose or move on,” she said.

Bailey said the vote Tuesday doesn’t stop her from continuing her work in the community. She also acknowledged the District 1 was a tough race.

“We had good people in our race,” she said.

The general election between Messenger and Viltz is Nov. 8.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

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