Three candidates to run for Bay District School Superintendent

The primary elections in Bay County are August 18. (WJHG/WECP)
The primary elections in Bay County are August 18. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 4:52 PM CDT
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The race is on for Bay District School Superintendent, and this year could potentially be a closed primary election.

This means only voters who are registered members of a political party can vote. In this year's case, only Republicans would be able to vote for current Superintendent Bill Husfelt or retired University Academy Executive Director Judy Vandergrift.

As of Thursday there is a qualified write-in candidate, local math teacher Frank Luke.

Florida state law says if only one party has candidates in the race, then everyone would be able to vote in what's called a universal primary contest.

"However if, there is a write-in candidate or no-party affiliation candidate, the two Republicans would run against each other. Whoever wins that race would go forward and be in the general election, and have opposition between the no-party affiliation or the write-in candidate," Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen said.

Superintendent Husfelt is looking to stretch his 12-year tenure into 16. He says he wants to focus on the well-being of students.

"My whole being is I cannot leave this system hanging by a thread after the hurricane. And I really want us to get back to normal, whatever normal is," Superintendent Husfelt said

Running against him is Vandergrift and Luke, both looking to reform the school system.

“Locally, I want to give teachers two planning periods because they are overloaded. We don’t have enough teachers. And so they work more and that’s why their efficiency goes down," Luke said.

“I would like to introduce trade skills into the high school. And the reason for that; talking with the business owners, they are begging for individuals with skills to come work for them," Vandergrift said.

Being a teacher himself, Luke believes he can bring in a new perspective to office.

“A teacher like me who knows what is happening, who is hands-on, should be at the helm of affairs. So teachers have a say in policy-making and because they know what is going on," Luke said.

Vandergrift wants to take a look at the district's budget.

"There needs to be a community oversight committee working with Bay District schools when you build that budget," Vandergrift said.

Superintendent Husfelt said holding the current position avoids the need for any retraining and he is already familiar with the problems facing the schools.

"I understand the problems we have and the issues we have especially with recovery. And the requirements we have to make sure we do what's legally responsible and take care of rebuilding but also take care of the mental well being of our students at the same time," Superintendent Husfelt said.

The ballot will be finalized noon on Friday. The primary elections in Bay County are August 18.

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