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District 7 candidates to face off at Pinellas County School Board candidate forum

Megan Holmes

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Candidates, Left to Right: Caprice Edmond, Corey Givens Jr., Sharon Jackson, Karl Nurse.

The race to replace Pinellas County School Board Chair Rene Flowers in District 7 is heating up as the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts another virtual candidate forum Wednesday.

Candidates Caprice Edmond, Corey Givens Jr., Sharon Jackson and Karl Nurse will take the virtual stage Wednesday to discuss their platform, plans for under-performing schools, and the return to school during COVID-19. Tiger Bay members will also have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions through a virtual Q&A.

Edmond is a Fairmount Elementary science coach and lab teacher. According to her website, she has 18 years’ experience advocating and working with children in various roles, including Pinellas County’s Guardian ad Litem program, PARC, Family Resources, Salvation Army’s Sallie House and Children’s Village, and Camelot Community Care. Edmond serves on a committee for the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, which has endorsed her campaign.

Jackson is a retired principal and longtime local educator with more than 30 years of experience. Jackson taught elementary, middle and high school. She has served as a teacher, school counselor, principal and professor, most recently at Argosy University, from which she retired in 2017. She is active in the National Council of Negro Women and the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Givens is a Pinellas County Job Corps liaison. He previously threw his hat into the ring for Pinellas County School Board in 2012, when he was just 20 years old. Givens also ran for St. Petersburg City Council in 2017, running to replace Nurse (who is also running for the school board seat), in a race that was eventually won by St. Petersburg City Council Vice Chair Gina Driscoll.

According to his website, Givens has been involved in the South St. Petersburg Citizens Advisory Council, the Suncoast Sierra Club Executive Committee, as well as the St. Petersburg City Beautiful Commission. He has also served as president of the Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association. This race marks Givens’ third run at public office.

Nurse, a former City Council member and owner of Bay Tech Label in St. Petersburg, entered the race to both praise and criticism. Nurse is the only white candidate in a field of Black candidates for a district that represents most of South Pinellas County, including the predominantly Black schools in South St. Petersburg, as well as parts of Lealman and Gulfport. Nurse also served on the South St. Petersburg Community Advisory Committee, as well as the Community Planning and Preservation Commission.

A fifth candidate, Ricardo “Ric” Davis, withdrew his candidacy just one week after entering, when he told the Tampa Bay Times that his chairmanship of the Pinellas personnel board barred his election to office, under the Unified Personnel System Act. Now, Davis has thrown his weight behind Givens, who has worked alongside Davis at Concerned Organization for Quality Education of Black Students (COQEBS), an advocacy organization for Black students in Pinellas County Schools.

Thus far, Nurse leads the pack in fundraising, with $15,550 in contributions. In second place is Edmonds with $6,637 in contributions. In third is Jackson with $5,148.

Flowers, who currently represents District 7, is seeking a seat on the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners vacated by Commissioner Ken Welch, who decided not to run for another term and is expected to run for St. Petersburg mayor in 2021.

The primary election will be held Aug. 18. If no candidate wins an outright majority that day, the two top candidates would move on to the Nov. 3 general election.

Tickets are still available for the Tiger Bay Virtual Forum, which will be held on Zoom Wednesday at 12 p.m. Tickets are $5 for non-members and free for members. Scholarships are available.

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