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Fischer wins District 1, six other school board candidates move forward

By Staff | Aug 28, 2018

Mary Fischer won District 1 for the Lee County School Board Tuesday night, and six other candidates in three races move forward to the General Election in November.

There were 12,578 (10.49 percent) of voters who took part in early voting and 76,746 (64.02 percent) that participated in early voting during the 2018 Primary Election. On election day Tuesday, 30,531 (25.46 percent) went to the polls to vote.

Out of 436,915 active registered voters, 119,357 ballots were cast, or 27.32 percent.

Fischer won the School Board District 1 race with 13,328 (55.95 percent) of the votes against Charles B. Dailey who had 10,494 (44.05 percent) of the votes.

“I’m grateful for the support, honored to keep serving. I’m ready to get back to work,” Fischer said.

She said she will work on retaining people and making sure students have their needs met. In addition, Fischer said she will work to educate the public on the needs of the half cent sales tax, so facilities are up to speed and ready for the kids.

Dailey said they ran a great race.

“The citizens made the decision to keep Ms. Fischer. I am very pleased with all of the hard work that we did. I’m blessed and I am fortunate that we had enough of the citizens to deliver the message to and that is what we did,” he said.

The two candidates moving forward with the School Board District 4 seat are Don Armstrong with 5,848 (33.71 percent) of the votes and Debbie Jordan with 5,533 (31.90 percent) of the votes. The other District 4 candidates were Geraldine “Gerri” Ware with 4,042 (23.30 percent) of votes and Louis Navarra with 1,924 (11.09 percent) of votes.

“Now is the time to gear up and start running for November,” Armstrong said. “I appreciate everyone’s support. Now it’s time to stand strong together and we win this seat for the kid’s future.”

Moving forward, he said he will not change anything about his campaign. Armstrong will keep putting public education back where it belongs.

In addition, he said he will “make sure we tell everyone we are against the (half cent sales) tax. We will start to budget and not borrow money.”

Jordan said she is both thankful and grateful for the voter’s support and she is ready to move onto November.

Jordan shared she was excited about the win Tuesday night.

“It’s been a long process and a lot of hard work . . . meeting a lot of wonderful people. I’m happy to be moving forward,” she said.

Jordan said her campaign message will remain the same.

“Make sure everything is about the children and kids with special needs. That is why we are here. We have to make sure we have the best educational system that we can offer these kids,” she said.

Betsy Vaughn finished on top in School Board District 6 with 28,642 (29.25 percent) of the votes, as well as Nicholas Alexander with 26,394 (26.96 percent) of the votes. Other District 6 candidates included Lori Fayhee with 22,485 (22.96 percent) and Karen Putman Watson with 20,389 (20.82 percent) of the votes.

“I’m thrilled with the results. I, of course, want to thank my family, my friends and all of my supporters because they were the ones that believed in my message and helped me with the victory tonight to help me move forward to phase two,” Vaughn said.

She said moving forward she will continue to connect with the community.

“I’m going to be announcing a celebration rally very soon right after Labor Day,” Vaughn said. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the two candidates in my race that are not advancing and try to bring everybody together, so their voices and the voices of the people that supported them are also heard. I want to keep moving forward and make a positive impact on Lee County schools.”

Alexander said he and his team are very excited about the results.

“This is where the hard work really begins. Where we are going to be meeting this week to really be thinking about the next steps and how to get the message out there. It is clear that our message has resonated,” he said.

Looking forward to the General Election, Alexander said they will continue to use the same three pillars in his campaigning efforts. Those include increase safety protocols across all campuses, focus on teacher retention, as well as continuing to build schools and increasing the amount of technical and vocational training for high school students.

“We have so many children leaving high school that can add value to the community overall,” Alexander said.

The candidates moving forward for School Board District 5 include Gwynetta “Gwyn” Gittens with 4,405 (33.76 percent) and Pamela LaRiviere with 3,747 (28.72 percent) of the votes. The other candidates included Jon Larsen Shudlick with 2,110 (16.17 percent) of the votes, Moses Jackson with 2,038 (15.62 percent) of the votes and Taruas Pugh with 747 (5.73 percent) of the votes.

“I’m excited. I’m very pleased and very happy for the support that I got from the community,” Gittens said.

She said with the votes being based on her campaign strategy now, she does not foresee her strategy to change.

“I’m going to focus on empowerment, accountability and transparency,” Gittens said.

She believes her experience, working at Bank of America as the vice president of training and development for 10 years, as well as being a teacher in the district for 13 years, spoke to the community.

“I know the needs and desires and people talk to me all the time,” Gittens said.

If she wins in November, she said she will make sure the community is heard. For example, she said her district is the fastest growing in Lee County.

“There are 220 portables,” in Lee County “and 116 of those are in my district, District 5, and yet they went and built an $80 million school in Bonita. There are some things that I just can’t wait to ask questions of why. Maybe they will have valid reasons, but I think my community and the taxpayers need to know and need to have that transparency and know what is going on,” Gittens said.

LaRiviere said she was glad about the results.

“Now we start working for the next stage. I’m helping people understand all the things that are going on with initiatives. Focus on what we are doing well and the changes that we have made. Share my part of my vision for collaborative working with the county, state and community to bring in some collaborative opportunities for the Lehigh community to further develop Lehigh Acres, so it can become a very special place to live,” she said. “It’s about working to build relationships with all the people in the east and building that community with our partners, with parents and families, so they feel welcomes and part of the school community.”

All election results are unofficial until certified.