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Reminders and recaps in your Manatee school board races that are important to know

Tales from the Mark Side: The Conservative Voice in Manatee County

Reminders and recaps in your Manatee school board races that are important to know

By Mark Young


It makes one wonder the purpose behind how school board races have been designed.

Like many of you, it’s not a series of elections I have paid a lot of attention to. My kids are a long distance away from their school days, but I have certainly seen the red flags over recent years.

And now, also like many of you, I am laser focused on what has been happening within our schools and am seeing the bigger picture of overall deception.

It’s a case of being deceived by school boards, school administrators and legislators who have gotten away with designing a voting system that is detrimental to parents and voters alike.

We took an initial look at the upcoming school board races last week, and since then, new information has surfaced, as well as the fact that I inadvertently left out some critical information you will need to know before the August primaries.

So let’s backtrack a bit and dive into this important information.

I’ve touched on the fact that the Legislature’s educational committee failed to act on a bill sponsored by Joe Gruters to end school board races as nonpartisan elections. It’s just one element of how candidates can deceive voters as to their real political intent.

The problem with the entire election cycle for the school board is that I predict these elections will see a turnout of historical proportions. So we need to overcome the obstacles put in our way that are designed to work against voters who may be looking at school board races for the first time.

Voters need to know a couple of important things about this election cycle. 

Our school board races will be decided in August even though it’s a nonpartisan race, which typically would be decided in the November general election.

That’s the first deception to keep voters from having their say.

For the school board, head to head races are decided in the primaries. If it’s three more more, then any candidate who gets 50% or more of the vote wins. If not, it goes to a runoff in November.

So for Manatee County, voters need to know all of the school board seats up for grabs are over in August because they are all two-person races.

In the District 2 race, it’s between Susan Agruso and Harold Byrd Jr.

The second thing voters need to know is that only District 2 voters will decide the race. District 2 was held by Charlie Kennedy, who successfully led the effort to change how school board elections are decided.

These single-district school board elections further isolate Manatee County citizens as a whole to have a say in the education of our children. Kennedy argued that the change was needed to avoid “outside money” from influencing school board elections.

This argument is a truckload of horse manure.

What it actually is, is an attempt to keep common-sense Manatee County voters from having their say regarding liberal school board members in somewhat liberal districts.

So in District 2’s “lesser of two evils,” race, Conservatives have intentionally been left out of the vote.

I highlighted District 2 last week, and I have nothing further to add about Byrd’s approach to politics. I said then, that I didn’t know too much about Agruso, but was uneasy about her years long experience as a school administrator.

Since then, attentive Patriots in Manatee County have let me know that while Agruso served as a New York school district superintendent in Long Island, she altered the words in “Silent Night,” for a school play performed in 2013.

I use the word altered, as the media uses it in their coverage, but in reality, she removed the word “Christ,” from the song. So also in reality, she removed Jesus Christ from a Christmas song and from the school district.

So the battle between Byrd and Agruso is a washout for Manatee County and I’m disappointed that an actual parent and/or citizen didn’t get involved instead of a long-time politician and a typical school administrator who is a reflection of everything that is wrong with our educational system.

Now granted, I still don’t know Agruso or have had the chance to question her about this incident. Jesus, after all, says to forgive. But I’m not Jesus and I don’t forgive that easily.

I simply cannot, ironically in good faith, say Agruso’s experience gives her some kind of edge. I think when it comes to school administrators past and present, it makes them more of a liability than an asset.

I don’t always agree with Byrd, as I noted, but I have found him to be more fiscally conservative with tax dollars than a typical democrat. If these are our choices, then I’d rather give Byrd my personal nod and we’ll just have to wait and see.

But it’s not up to me, or most of you. It’s up to District 2 voters.

I don’t have a lot more to recap in the District 4 race between Chad Choate and Garin Hoover. As I previously noted, I have not had the chance to meet Choate, but I do know Hoover, who will bring a strong Conservative voice to the district and challenge the liberal totalitarianism that infects this district.

District 4 is a two-person race, and also will be decided in August by District 4 voters.

District 5 will be decided in August by District 5 voters because it, too, is a two-person race between James Golden and Richard Tatem. 

Tatem has drawn ire from Conservatives over his public support of the district’s taxpayer-robbing “extra” mill extension to keep teacher salaries competitive and provides additional class time.

Tatem argues that he was sure the district would punish the teachers if their deceptive tactics to extend the special tax was unsuccessful.

Tatem isn’t wrong about that, but that’s exactly what Conservatives dared the district to do, which would have ensured the end of their tax-and-spend regime.

Our argument was simple: If you can’t pay our teachers a competitive salary within a $1 billion budget, you suck at your job.

After all, the first thing the school administration did after the original tax was passed, was to raise the salaries of their top six executives and didn’t pay the teachers until much later.

Still, I know Tatem to be a good American and a fine Conservative despite this disagreement in the school tax. Tatem also has said he would not support another extension.

This retired Air Force officer remains a much better choice over do-nothing Golden who has used the district, and the taxpayers, for his own personal gains, in my humble opinion.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance to turn out for the primaries. There is too much at stake well before we finally get to the November general election.

Do not let left-wing tactics get in the way of making drastic changes across the Manatee County electoral spectrum. Stay vigilant and stay informed my fellow patriots.

Our country and our community is at stake.

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