By Sharon Aron Baron
The School Board race for District 4 will have a competitive season now that six candidates have filed to run in the open seat. More candidates have filed to run in District 4 race than for any other school board race in the county. There may seem to be a lot of candidates, however, during this time in 2010, there were seven candidates, with only six made it past qualifying.
With two more years in his term former school board member, David Thomas of Coral Springs, resigned last fall so he could focus on his wife’s health issues. Governor Rick Scott appointed Donna Korn to fill the open seat in the interim, however, Korn does not live in District 4 and therefore cannot run in November. She will instead run for a countywide seat against State Representative Franklin Sands.
Before each candidate can run in the August 14th primary, they must qualify. There are two ways of doing this: Either by getting enough registered voters in the district to sign petitions, or to pay the qualifying fee. Either one has to be completed by the beginning of June. Many times, candidates drop out because they can’t raise the funds or get the signatures.
Here is a summary of the six candidates running for District 4 which covers Parkland, Coral Springs, Margate, North Lauderdale and Tamarac. I published their websites if they were available, as well as any information they gave me about themselves. I will interview them in detail later on this year.
Louis Kushner is the youngest in the group which may help or hurt him. At 21, Kushner is completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at FAU, and will graduate in December. While attending school at night, he’s a full-time substitute by day for a teacher out on maternity leave at Millenium Middle School in Tamarac. Kushner’s young age may say,”inexperience” to some, but along with his first-hand experience in the schools, he could bring new ideas and change to our schools. Whether or not Kushner winds up as a District 4 school board member, Broward County cannot afford to let this intelligent, enthusiastic young man leave our county to teach somewhere else.
Andrew Ladanowski has been a member of the Broward County Schools Facilities Task Force for eight years and was appointed to the Advisory Board at Coral Springs Charter School. Originally from Quebec, Ladanowski has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has his own IT consulting business in medical billing. Living in the US for 10 years, he was recently sworn in as an American citizen in January. Ladonowsky says that Broward County School’s transportation costs are double than that of the rest of the state and he wants to stop inefficiencies and bring down costs in transportation. Last year, he became a substitute teacher at Dilliard High School and Parkway Middle School which helped him learn more about the inner workings of our schools. Ladanowski has two children ages 13 and 11.
Will the 3rd time be the charm for Jaemi Levine? Levine first ran in 2006 against Stephanie Kraft and then again in 2010 against Thomas. Will Levine’s followers stay with her with the new crop of enthusiastic candidates? It will be another interesting race. Levine and her husband have been living in Coral Springs for 10 years. Originally from Long Island, Levine attended college at Delhi University in New York. Levine currently serves on the Student Advisory Committee (SAC)for Margate Middle School where she is a partner in education. She is also passionate about helping to spread a reading initiate to several elementary schools which was started by a broward county teacher.
Despite Robert Mayersohn coming in at a disappointing sixth place in the 2010 school board primary, that didn’t stop him from staying involved and and volunteering with Broward Schools. A graduate of Syracuse University, Mayhersohn has been the owner of a food brokerage company for over 17 years. Currently he is the Broward County School’s District Advisory Council (DAC)Vice Chair, North Area Advisory Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Representative and ESE Immediate Past Chair and Executive Board Member. Named by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards and the Broward County Advisory Board for Individuals with Disabilities as their “2011 Volunteer of the Year” in recognition of his commitment to the community by demonstrating outstanding achievement in advocacy and support for individuals with disabilities. He presides over the Parkland Buddy Sports Recreational Program that pairs mainstream kids with special needs kids. Mayersohn has a son that is in Broward Schools.
Shelly Solomon has an impressive resume and she started off with an even more impressive campaign budget of $20,000 While other candidates are busy trying to raise funds, Solomon has them beat. In fact, she may be the one to watch because this former professional tennis player isn’t going to quit now that she’s started. Solomon initially entered the race in 2010, but had to withdraw for personal reasons. This UCLA and Nova Law School grad is now ready for the competition. Solomon has four children in Broward Schools and is currently a grassroots parent activist whose hard work to stop bullying lead to the adoption of the school district’s Anti-Bullying Policy.
Nick Steffens was the last one to jump into the race. Steffens is Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter’s appointee to the Children’s Services Board and serves as the Vice President for Political Affairs of the Broward Young Democrats and a Regional Co-Chair of Gen44, President Barack Obama’s Reelection Fundraising Committee. Steffens serves on the Board of Directors of the Parent-Teacher Organization of the Phyllis J. Green ECC, where is daughter attends preschool. As a local business owner, Steffens is a member of the Executive Committee of the Parkland Chamber of Commerce. A Syracuse University graduate, Steffens went on to graduate from Law School at Seton Hall University School of Law. His law practice focuses on civil litigation and family law. He currently lives in Parkland and has a four year old daughter.