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The South Florida Roundup

Tight congressional races and school boards shaken up after Florida primaries

A voter holds an, 'I Voted!' sticker, after casting her ballot during the Florida presidential primary last March.
A voter holds an, 'I Voted!' sticker, after casting her ballot during the Florida presidential primary last March.

Florida’s primaries were held Tuesday, with a focus on education this time around. Governor DeSantis endorsed 30 school board candidates throughout Florida, and they did well. In Miami-Dade, Monica Colucci and Roberto Alonso won their elections for the school board, championing what the governor calls the “DeSantis Education Agenda.”

Sommer Brugal, education reporter for the Miami Herald, said that there were indications that more people came out for school board races. The Herald had a piece showing differences in voter participation from the previous election to now.

“I think this shows how much weight DeSantis’ endorsements hold … We can say for sure his influence mattered in this race.”

The introduction of Colucci and Alonso to the board doesn’t change the number of individuals who lean to the right and the left. It is still majority conservative-leaning, but DeSantis’ agenda will have a more prominent place on the board.

“It’ll be a question of how much we see DeSantis' agenda re-shape public education here in Miami-Dade on social issues … and curriculum,” said Kate Payne, education reporter for the Miami Herald.

Alonso and Colucci say they want to give power back to parents, and Brugal said it means exactly what it means in their context. She said we could see more challenges to books and curriculums from parents as they are being united to make decisions on what their children are learning.

For those who don’t support DeSantis’ agenda, Brugal says they are concerned. They are concerned that his endorsement of individuals to these school boards might shift them from independent boards to ones aligned with DeSantis.

This year districts across the state need to choose a new civics curriculum to align with new state statutes, so Brugal believes these issues will be presenting themselves quickly.

DeSantis’ removals in Broward

Four members of the Broward School Board were removed from office by Governor DeSantis. He cited the findings of a statewide grand jury launched after the 2018 Parkland shooting.

He currently has appointed a majority of the school board members in one of the state’s most Democratic-leaning counties.

Raymond Adderly III ran against incumbent Donna Korn, one of the removed officials who was up for re-election and in the November 8 runoff election. He said that he feels DeSantis is looking to cement his legacy in a selfish way with this move.

“The question becomes, where does the overreach stop, and more importantly, how is Florida the freest state when democracy continues to be on the line?” he said.

Also, on the roundup, we also spoke about the congressional races in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County.

Bianca Padró Ocasio is a politics reporter for the Miami Herald, and she said the race between incumbent Republican congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and Democratic nominee Annette Taddeo looks like it could shape up to be one of the most competitive races in the country. Listen to the full conversation above.

The South Florida Roundup
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Natu Tweh is producer of The Florida Roundup and The South Florida Roundup at WLRN.