Miner named school board chair as newest member takes office

The fourth time’s a charm for James T. Golden, the newest member of Manatee County’s school board.

Golden — a longtime pastor, public official and practicing attorney — campaigned for the board in three elections between 1998 and 2014, falling short each time. But on Aug. 28, he defeated incumbent John Colon in a race for the District 5 seat.

On Tuesday, the board welcomed Golden and then elected a chair and vice chair, as it does each November. With a 3-2 vote, the board appointed Dave Miner as its chair, a position previously filled by Scott Hopes.

Hopes and Gina Messenger, who was nominated for the chair position, cast dissenting votes.

With a unanimous vote, the board then elected to keep Messenger as its vice chair.

“We have much to do, much to accomplish, and I know we can do it working together,” Miner said.

He and the former chairman often clashed throughout the last year — most notably on Feb. 27. Shortly after a board meeting, amid a heated argument in the parking lot, Hopes accused Miner of trying to run him over.

The Bradenton Police Department found no probable cause to file charges.

But on Tuesday, Hopes seemed to put the feud to rest during his closing comments.

“I want to congratulate the chair,” he said. “You’ve done a fine job in your first meeting, and I look forward to the coming four years.”

The board also sat two existing members and one newcomer. With one hand raised and another on the Bible, Golden took the board’s oath of office on Tuesday evening, as did Hopes and Charlie Kennedy, who both won their recent campaigns.

Golden soon quoted Horace Mann, an American education reformer in the 1800s, and his six principles on public education. Golden outlined the importance of diversity, public support, effective teachers and a well-informed community.

“I fully intend to be accessible, accountable and adaptable in helping the School District of Manatee County achieve these goals,” he said.

Golden, who also ran for the school board in Marion County, is new to working in a school district. He’s no stranger to civic engagement, however.

He volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in 1967, and he was honorably discharged about two years later. Golden pastored Ward Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Bradenton, from 1993 to 2014.

Residents twice elected Golden to serve on the Bradenton City Council. He sat on the council from 1999 to 2007, serving as vice mayor for one year. He also worked as the city’s fire commissioner and its chaplain.

Golden sits on the board of directors for Centerstone, previously known as Manatee Glens, serving as its vice chair. And he previously worked on the board of directors for Meals on Wheels and Just for Girls.

His past campaigns include a 2010 run for the state’s 13th Congressional District, a 2012 run for the Manatee County Commission and a 2016 run for the for the Florida House of Representatives.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stetson University, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida and a master’s in divinity from Atlanta University, in Georgia.

Golden and his wife, Mildred, are embedded in the community. She owns an insurance agency and an ice cream parlor in Bradenton, and they’ve lived in Manatee County for nearly 25 years.

“I want to thank my wife,” Golden said on Tuesday evening. “I want to thank all of you who have been supportive so my children, my grandchildren, are able to sit and see this moment.”