Mom of slain Parkland student wins a seat on the Broward School Board

The mother of a student murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14 has been elected to the Broward County School Board in a landslide.

But the momentum brought by Lori Alhadeff and other candidates who announced their campaigns after the deadliest school shooting in the state did not translate to votes cast Tuesday.

Early results from the primary election to weed out 15 candidates vying for five out of nine board seats show that voters decided four of the five races and forced a runoff for one seat.

Alhadeff, a former teacher and mother of 14-year-old Alyssa, who was among those killed Feb. 14, ran in District 4, which encompasses the Parkland and Coral Springs area currently represented by Abby Freedman, who decided not to seek reelection. Alhadeff won about 65 percent of the vote, easily defeating opponents Tennille Erica Decoste and Michael Kottler.

“I am so excited. I am elated,” said Alhadeff. “I can’t wait to start making change and start making an impact on the school board.”

But it appears that Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was also among those killed in Parkland, barely missed a chance to face off against incumbent Donna Korn in the November general election. As of 9:45 p.m., with all but nine precincts reporting, Korn had won 50.33 percent of the vote, enough to clinch her countywide District 8 seat.

Petty won about 31 percent of the vote, outdistancing third-place finisher Elijah Manley with about 18 percent of the vote.

Petty and Alhadeff campaigned on a platform of “more leadership, more transparency and more accountability to the Broward County school system,” said Alhadeff back in May. Their candidacies sparked a wave to replace board incumbents.

Richard Mendelson, who previously taught at Stoneman Douglas, was defeated by incumbent and sole opponent Lori Rich Levinson for her District 6 seat. Levinson, who won about 57 percent of the vote, had represented the Davie, Weston and Cooper City area since 2010.

Broward voters also approved raising property taxes to generate more funding for compensating teachers and school-related staff (72 percent of the funds), hiring school resource officers and security staff (20 percent) and spending on “essential programs” such as guidance counselors, social workers and behavioral staff. The referendum passed with about 63 percent of the vote.

The average homeowner with a home valued at $239,000 will pay $119 more in the first year, and the average condo owner with a home worth $130,000 would pay $66. The funds would be available July 1, 2019.

School Board chairwoman Nora Rupert defeated Mike Olbel and Hubert St. Claire with about 59 percent of votes. The District 7 incumbent, representing Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach, was backed by supporters of the Parkland parents. Rupert was first elected to the board in 2010.

103 MSD Public Safety Commi
Lori Alhadeff, center, the mother of Parkland shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, looks on during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Meeting at the BB&T Center on Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Davie. David Santiago

District 1 was the most crowded of the five races, but incumbent Ann Murray and activist Jim Silvernale made it to the general election runoff in November, taking home about 36 percent and 33 percent of the vote, respectively. They edged out candidates Natalia Garceau and Veronica Newmeyer.

Contact Colleen Wright at 305-376-3003 and @Colleen_Wright.