Susie Castillo wins Miami-Dade School Board seat

Susie Castillo, a former district employee and parent, defeated Dan Espino, an attorney and former Miami Springs councilman.

08/14/2012 5:00 AM

08/14/2012 10:59 PM

Miami-Dade voters picked the parent over the youthful politician in the open race for Miami-Dade School Board.

With almost all precincts reporting, Susie Castillo, 52, appeared to have handily won the District 5 seat, beating her opponent, Daniel “Dan” Espino, 29.

Both candidates campaigned on their experience. Castillo is a former district employee and mom of two children who attended Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Espino is an attorney and former Miami Springs councilman and serves on two education groups at Miami Dade College and Monsignor Edward Pace High School.

Castillo will take office in November and will be paid $38,500 a year during the four-year term. Board Member Renier Diaz de la Portilla is leaving the District 5 seat because he decided to seek office in the Florida Legislature.

Castillo, who currently works for Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, said she understands education issues as a parent and former district employee. She started as a secretary at an elementary school and worked in the superintendent’s office and as an aide for a School Board member.

“I’m very excited. I’m overwhelmed and very thrilled with all the support,” said Castillo, who received a congratulatory email from the superintendent.

She said her first priority will be to listen to the needs of teachers, parents, students and the community.

“That’s my goal and the only thing I’m really focused on,” Castillo said from an election party at a hotel in Doral.

On Election Day, the two candidates ran into each other at a polling location at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in southwest Miami-Dade. They shook hands.

Espino was not available for comment late Tuesday.

The candidates agreed on several major issues: Technology for students should be a priority; school buildings need major maintenance; and high-stakes testing needs another look from policy-makers, though accountability is still important. Both have commended Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s work during tough economic times.

They both raised about the same amount in campaign contributions: Castillo with $64,338, and Espino with $61,499.

In addition to the District 5 race, four incumbents were unopposed and automatically reelected to the School Board: Wilbert “Tee” Holloway in District 1; Martin Karp in District 3; Carlos Curbelo in District 7; and Larry Feldman in District 9.

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