Campaign for school board seat goes negative

In this file photo, incumbent Dave Miner and challenger Misty Servia face off in the Bradenton Herald forum for the District 3 school board seat.
In this file photo, incumbent Dave Miner and challenger Misty Servia face off in the Bradenton Herald forum for the District 3 school board seat.

Manatee County voters will have a choice Nov. 8 to stay with the current District 3 board member or bring in a fresh face.

Since the primaries, Manatee County School Board District 3 incumbent Dave Miner and challenger Misty Servia have both gone negative. Miner took the primaries with 46.5 percent of the votes, Servia earned 37.6 percent and banker Charlie Coneley earned 15.9 percent, not enough to make it through the primary to the general.

Since then, Servia has questioned Miner’s campaign materials, launched an attack website and filed an elections complaint against Miner. In turn, Miner has also launched his own attack website, questioning Servia’s ties to developers. Voters will elect one of them to a four-year term.

Early voting starts Monday and runs through Nov. 5.

On a lot of issues — including the half-cent sales tax, allowing parents and families to opt out of high-stakes testing, and increasing local control — the two opponents agree.

They disagree on their views of the last four years. Servia thinks trust has been broken and that Miner was a big part of the chaos that ensnared the district in recent years. If elected, Servia says she will listen more and will work to restore trust.

“I have a long-standing commitment to the community,” Servia said at a recent candidate forum. “You name it, I’ve been involved.”

Miner fundamentally disagrees, touting recent district achievements and saying he played an integral role in hiring Diana Greene as superintendent. Miner says Servia has been on the sidelines, not working to help the school district, and that voters should choose him to continue the progress that’s been made in the past four years.

“Your school board is doing a lot of the things Ms. Servia is talking about,” Miner said at a recent forum.

For the race, Servia has raised considerably more money, bringing in $77,529.91 in campaign contributions, logging $2,896.71 for in-kind contributions and spending $74,596.93.

Miner has critiqued where Servia is getting the money, saying developers are funding her campaign and that it won’t be good for a board member to have such close ties to developers.

Servia said she does has some donations from developers, but said Miner is misleading the public by lumping professions — like real estate and land use attorneys — into the developer category.

“That said, all of my contributions are listed and transparent. I can’t say that for Miner. He has hidden $35,000 from himself to himself as in-kind contributions,” she said.

Miner has collected $27,695 in campaign contributions, logged $38,276.96 for in-kind contributions and spent $26,061.83 on the race.

Servia has questioned Miner’s practicing of logging items as in-kind contributions that shouldn’t be logged that way, including contributions from himself. She filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission about his practices.

Miner said his campaign tries to comply with all the laws. He called Servia’s move, which came about four weeks before the election, a political stunt.

“The timing of this complaint, just four weeks before the general election, suggests that Ms. Servia is more interested in casting a cloud on my integrity at election time rather than correcting any errors she perceives in how my campaign has been filing reports since last fall,” Miner said.

The District 3 school board seat covers West Bradenton and Anna Maria Island. Candidates must live in the district they are running for, but voters across the county will choose who wins the seat.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

Name: Dave Miner

Age: 70

Election experience: First elected in 2012, seeking re-election

Professional experience: Practicing lawyer in Florida since 1974, owns his own law firm

Family: Married with two children

Name: Misty Servia

Age: 52

Election experience: None

Professional experience: 28-year-career as a professional planner, currently with King Engineering associates

Family: Married with three children