Two on Miami-Dade school board draw challengers; two unopposed

Two members of the Miami-Dade School Board were automatically reelected Friday when no one filed to run against them in the upcoming election.

Both Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and Raquel Regalado say they can now focus entirely on school board business. But two of their colleagues who did draw challengers will have to campaign to keep their seats in the Aug. 26 election.

“I do have a lot of work to do,” said Bendross-Mindingall, who will serve her second term. “I do have a lot of ideas to put forth for our children.”

The former Liberty City school principal and state lawmaker has represented Miami’s inner-city schools since she was first elected in 2010. She plans to push for more parental involvement, increased partnerships between schools and churches, and mentors for students.

Bendross-Mindingall, 71, said she also wants to continue dialogue with some alumni and activists who in recent months have criticized the district’s efforts and attention toward inner-city schools and the black community.

“They have a right to express their opinions and some of them might be factual,” she said. “But we’ll be back in the community to have conversations with our constituents.”

Like Bendross-Mindingall, Regalado was first elected in 2010 and will keep her seat without contention.

“I made a series of promises and I’ve kept them. And I’ve made the priorities of my district a priority of the school board,” said Regalado, an attorney and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

Regalado, 39, represents the school board’s District 6, which includes Key Biscayne, Coral Gables and South Miami. In her second term, she said wants to focus on the district’s digital curriculum and move toward e-books, among other issues.

Regalado and Bendross-Mindingall are just two members on a nine-member board. Their terms are staggered, and Susie Castillo, Carlos Curbelo, Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, Martin Karp and Lawrence Feldman were not up for reelection this year.

Perla Tabares Hantman and Marta Pérez, however, will have to win an election in August.

Hantman, currently the chairwoman of the board, has represented the northwest Dade for almost two decades. First elected to her District 4 seat in 1996, she is the longest serving member on the board.

Hantman, 74, is no stranger to campaigns, having been elected five times already. This summer, she faces a challenge from a Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High teacher, Duysevi Miyar.

Hantman has raised a campaign war chest of $81,000, but said she’s not sure how much she’ll actually focus on her campaign.

“I’m not going to be distracted by politics. I never have been,” she said.

Miyar, 46, said she is a veteran English teacher who came to South Florida from Turkey. She said she wants to bring an educator’s perspective to the school board.

“It’s time for teachers to make a difference,” she said.

Pérez will also run a campaign for the first time since she was first elected in the late 90s to represent District 8, which includes parts of Coral Gables and west Dade. Perez will run against retired teacher Lawrence Orihuela, a retired teacher and political newcomer who said he’ll be strategically knocking on doors in a bid to pull an upset.

Perez, on the other hand, would say little about how she’ll tackle her first campaign in more than a decade.

“I’d rather not say what I’m doing,” she said.