BRADENTON -- Less than 24 hours after being elected to the Manatee County School Board, Mary Cantrell was house-hunting Wednesday.
During the election for the District 5 seat, Cantrell rented a home on Field Sparrow Glen in East Manatee to satisfy election requirements. Now, after defeating current school board chair Julie Aranibar, Cantrell and her husband are looking for something more permanent in District 5, which covers East Manatee.
"We're scoping out some places," she said, adding that they might have found the right spot already. "It's like a dream come true."
Cantrell defeated Aranibar in the general election Tues
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day by garnering 46 percent of the vote, compared to Aranibar's 40 percent.
Cantrell beat Aranibar with more than 7,000 votes in the nonpartisan race, winning almost every single precinct in the western part of the county and a number of precincts out east as well.
Cantrell is one of two new members who will join the Manatee County School Board on Nov. 18 -- and they're both in the midst of moving.
Charlie Kennedy, who is replacing Barbara Harvey for the District 2 seat on the board after defeating Rodney Jones in the August primary, just moved into a new home with his fiance, Lisa Ramirez.
"We're living in a bunch of boxes," Kennedy said, who is living in District 2. "It's really kind of strange."
Kennedy worked his last day as a social studies teacher at Manatee High School on Friday.
Both he and Cantrell will spend the next two weeks meeting with community members and preparing to join the board.
On Wednesday, Kennedy visited the district's main office to get his school board badge, he said.
Cantrell and Kennedy will join Bob Gause, Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Karen Carpenter on the board. During the primary in August, Carpenter handily defeated challenger Frank Brunner to retain her seat. Both Cantrell and Kennedy said they want to work as a united, five-member board and put the dysfunction of the school board to rest.
"Everybody has a fresh start," Cantrell said.
Kennedy said the community is looking to the board to take on the big district issues, such as long-term planning, and to work through issues as a cohesive unit.
"It will be on us as board members to lead by example," Kennedy said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.