Four Miami-Dade School Board members will keep their seats, after none drew opponents.
Friday marked the end of the qualifying period for the August elections.
Staying on the School Board for another four-year term: Carlos Curbelo, Larry Feldman, Wilbert “Tee” Holloway and Martin Karp, according to the unofficial candidate list on the Miami-Dade elections department’s website. The new terms start Nov. 20.
Similarly, Harvey Ruvin was automatically reelected as Miami-Dade’s clerk of court, since he didn’t face an opponent.
Two candidates, Susana Castillo and Dan Espino, will compete for the open seat to represent District 5 on the School Board. Member Renier Diaz de la Portilla is leaving to pursue a post in the state Legislature.
Castillo, 51, is the assistant to the mayor of Doral, Juan Carlos Bermudez. She previously worked for the county school system, starting as a principal’s secretary and rising to become an executive assistant in the superintendent’s office, under Merrett Stierheim and Roger Cuevas. Castillo said she’s the most “well-rounded” candidate since she has worked for the district, her children have attended Dade schools and her mother was a teacher. “This is a very natural step,” she said.
Espino, 29, is an attorney with Kravitz, Talamo and Leyton and a former Miami Springs councilman. First elected in 2009, Espino resigned effective May 16 to vie for the seat. Florida’s “resign-to-run law” prohibits an elected official from qualifying as a candidate for another public office if the terms overlap.
“The opportunity to run for school board came up unexpectedly,” Espino said. “It gave me an opportunity to continue to serve but to focus on education.” He said he has tried to promote education programs from the dais, but realized the city council isn’t the best venue for that.
In District 7, it first looked like incumbent Curbelo would face competition. But Eugenio “Geno” Perez, a Miami-Dade social studies teacher, withdrew from the race in late May, according to the elections department. Perez said in an email that he withdrew because he plans to pursue a seat in the state Legislature. “School Board members hands are tied when it comes to passing educational laws,” he said.
Said Curbelo: “It’s unusual for all incumbents to go unchallenged, but perhaps it’s not a coincidence.” He added, “I think things are moving in the right direction.”
The School Board hires and fires the people who fill three key positions for the nation’s fourth largest school district: the superintendent, chief auditor and board attorney. The board also approves the budget and set policy.