Today is an incredibly important day for residents of Gateway who are parents of school-aged children.
Four out of the seven seats that will comprise the next Lee County School District board are up for election, and Gateway residents will be voting on three of them.
With today being the primary election in Florida, the rules are pretty simple when it comes to the school board: if a candidate secures over 50% of the vote today for their district’s seat then they will officially be elected as an LCSD board member. If nobody secures over 50%, then the top two vote-getters for that district seat will compete in a run-off election which will take place during the general election on November 8.
The Gateway Sun reached out to every candidate up for election in District 2 (where Gateway is located) as well as the newly created at-large, county-wide Districts 6 and 7. These are the three LCSD board seats that Gateway residents will vote on.
If you’re trying to elect a District 2 candidate who will prioritize a new high school being built in Gateway, then you can’t lose whether you choose incumbent Jeanne Dozier or one particular challenger, Charie Flores.
The News-Press endorsed Flores.
Speaking for myself, I would feel confident with either of those two candidate. In fact, perhaps the best solution would be a run-off between Dozier and Flores in November.
Other candidates in District 2 include Melisa Giovannelli, Kimberly Hurley, David Lusk and Stephen Solak. An underwhelming group whose campaigns will almost certainly end today.
Four candidates are running for District 6, including Don Armstrong, Charles Daily, Richard Dunmire and Jane Kuckel.
Kuckel won the endorsement of the News-Press, but when I spoke to her she was pretty pompous. Rather than answer any questions, she assigned me research to perform on her behalf and then stated that even after I completed my tasks she may have additional questions for me. Here I thought she was the candidate and I was the one that was supposed to be asking the questions. But no, apparently I work for her now.
I spoke with Charles Daily at length and he seemed to be interested in putting a school in Gateway. He has a very strong personality and wanted to talk much more than he wanted to listen, but he was easily the most informed candidate we spoke with when it came to the issue of building a new school in the East Zone. On top of that, he did seem to strongly favor Gateway over Alva.
Dunmire said he preferred Gateway over Alva, but his reasons were a bit bizarre. He said his son was building a home in Alva, and that Dunmire himself was going to retire his race horses there, so he wasn’t in favor a high school in Alva messing up the serenity the community currently enjoys.
Armstrong did not respond to our request for comment.
Speaking purely from qualifications it seems Queen Kuckel may be the best option. But if you want a school in Gateway your best bet may be Daily.
In Seat 7 your choices are Derrick Donnell, Guido Minaya, Cathleen Morgan, Chris Quackenbush and Betsy Vaughn.
Right out of the gate I’ll tell you that Quackenbush opposes building new schools. She wants to do more with the buildings the LCSD already has, but to be honest that’s not really an acceptable solution due to the rapid population growth in Lee County. Even if the schools got built in Alva, Bonita Springs and everywhere else but Gateway, they have to be built.
We tried calling Donnell but he did not answer. Morgan did not respond to our query either.
Vaughn and Minaya gave similar responses. Despite both being fairly well versed on the subject, both candidates stated they needed much more data before they could offer an opinion on whether or not to build a school in Gateway. Both candidates are particularly concerned with where funding would come from to build any schools.
It’s difficult to name the District 7 candidate who would most likely support a new school in Gateway.
For what it’s worth, the News-Press stated they would support a run-off between Minaya and Morgan.