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Jordan, Gittens and Vaughn win school board seats

By Staff | Nov 6, 2018

Voters elected three new school board members Tuesday night, creating an excitement for the three women elected to seats 4, 5 and 6.

Debbie Jordan won the District 4 seat with 21,306 votes, or 55.43 percent. Don Armstrong had 17,129 votes, or 44.57 percent.

District 4 is mostly Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and Dunbar.

“I am ready to work and I am going to be there. They can call me anytime,” she said. “I’m so ecstatic to serve in this community. It’s exciting.”

After the results were announced, Jordan said, “I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed at the moment.”

She said there were a lot of family and people working so hard to win the election.

“We did it,” Jordan said. “We brought it in. We are ready to start taking care and making sure what we are charged to do is going to happen.”

The first thing she wants to tackle is learning everything she possibly can, while making sure she is working for the children with special needs and getting them what they need.

“I want to thank everybody. It definitely was a community and I appreciate the fact that they have put their faith in me. I am not going to let them down,” Jordan said.

The District 5 seat was won by Gwynetta “Gwyn” Gittens with 18,204 votes, or 56.72 percent. Incumbent Pam LaRiviere had 13,891 votes, or 43.28 percent.

District 5 is mostly Lehigh Acres.

Gittens said she was exhausted and excited following the results Tuesday night.

“I worked and worked and worked really, really hard, but I met so many people. I learned so much about our district and it actually makes me a better board member. I have gone door to door and have gone house to house and talked to people in restaurants. I talked to parents and children,” Gittens said. “It opened my eyes.”

It was exciting for her to run into so many of her former students – who now have children of their own – during her campaign.

“It was an awesome way to get to know the community I intend to serve,” Gittens said.

Now with the election behind her, she said she cannot wait to get started. One of the first things she would like to see done is a forensic audit.

When Gittens worked at Bank of America, she said they would have a retreat to take a deep look at everything they were doing. She said they would basically lock themselves in a room until they got it all sorted out.

“Is it as effective as it should be and would this be better,” were some of the questions Gittens said they asked.

“Having a minority on the school board will give them a different perspective to things. That’s what I want to bring – a different perspective. Let’s look at it from a different angle,” she said.

Looking back, she said the journey has been amazing.

“It was God’s plan because I certainly had no intention to go into politics,” Gittens said, laughing. “I’m going to write a book eventually about it because I want to show other young people to help prepare them for doing it and going into it cold turkey.”

Betsy Vaughn won the District 6 seat with 124,074 votes, or 57.41 percent. Nicholas Alexander received 92,030 votes, or 42.59 percent.

District 6 is an at-large seat open to voters countywide.

“I just feel so grateful to my friends and supporters. I’m thrilled with the whole thing. What I am pleased about is I attracted a really diverse group of people. I had a really good group of supporters from both sides of the aisle . . . great support from African Americans and Haitian communities,” Vaughn said. “That’s what makes me feel really good because my goal is to represent everyone. This just validates the message and the fact that I am a candidate that listens to everyone, and I got that kind of diversity in supporters.”

There are three things she wants to tackle once she begins her new role as a board member. The first, the training and doing her homework. The second is taking a tour of the district.

“I want to go out to the different schools and meet the principals to understand the climate and culture,” Vaughn said.

The final thing is making appointments with the various district department heads and directors. She said she will have a goal in mind for each.

“I definitely want to go out and meet the principals and teachers and students and get a feel for the schools and talk with the chiefs and directors at the district level,” Vaughn said.

School board races are non-partisan.

Results are not official until certified.