By Wes Wolfe
Nassau County School Board member Jamie Deonas has held off on spending big so far, as he faces two opponents — Shannon Hogue and Rick Pavelock — who are challenging him this year for District 1.
Deonas previously won election and re-election to the board without opposition. But this is no ordinary year for school soard elections, especially in Florida.
For his part, Deonas is self-funding his campaign with a $15,000 loan he gave to the campaign in January and various in-kind contributions over the past months. The campaign also received a $1,000 contribution in May.
On the spending side, Deonas paid Intracoastal Media Group of Jacksonville $2,500 in May for advertising. Otherwise, spending appears to mostly be by the candidate himself, who then records the purchases — signs and the like — as in-kind contributions.
“The reasons I’m running for the Nassau County School Board are real simple,” Deonas said at a recent forum held by the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce.
“First are our teachers and support staff, allowing them to do the great work to keep our district rated as highly as it is. Giving them the tools and resources that they need, and being an advocate for them and a force for them.”
Second to that, he said, is managing growth — “keeping our classroom sizes small, with our education high in each of our classes at each of our schools.”
He maintains more than $13,000 on hand, and if he’s going to spend it, that’s going to need to be now. Few candidates in Nassau County have been as active in their campaign’s social media as Hogue, who’s worked in education for more than 20 years.
She’s outspent her opponents so far, burning through nearly $3,000 by July 15. Reflecting the low amount of spending generally in local Nassau races, though, most of the dollars went to traditional places like vendors for palm cards, campaign merchandise and yard signs.
As to what motivated her to run, Hogue said it was the students.
“I want us to be preparing our students for the real world, not a ‘test world,’” Hogue said at the forum. “We have amazing staff — I want us to think creatively. How are we going to retain our veteran teachers? How are we going to attract additional dynamic staff?”
Hogue suggested partnering with local businesses to develop shadow programs and internships in the area to train and provide some of that new workforce.
She had around $1,074 on hand at the end of the last reporting period, having raised a little more than $4,000 since the outset of the campaign. Hogue also received the most in-kind contributions, though, with around $3,335.
Pavelock, a registered investment advisor, raised around $2,081, received $2,800 in in-kind contributions and spent $1,272 over the campaign, with less than $1,000 on hand.
However, around $1,381 of the money raised is listed as a refund by Pavelock to the campaign.
Pavelock’s priorities are eliminating school board members’ compensation and benefits, implementing new school safety procedures, and teaching personal finance and reemphasize social studies and civics.
He said in a campaign statement that he’s “extremely passionate about school safety and financial literacy,” and he’s a proponent of expanding career technical education.
“The cost to the individuals and the economy is high,” Pavelock said in a statement. “If we want everyone’s kid to succeed, we need to expand vocational education back to the core of high school learning. We need to partner with as many local businesses and governmental agencies as possible to offer a wide array of career paths that appeal to a broader range of student’s interests.”
Wes, you didn’t mention that Havelock boldly embraces DeSantis’ education policies – policies that deny teachers the right to discuss gender in the classroom, and limit a student’s right to access certain books.
Sadly, there’s not much information here to base a vote on. I’m curious, is J. Deonas related to Nick? Do these people believe that President Biden is legitimate? Does anyone care about civics in school? How do they feel about on-line school?