District 3 School Board runoff: Jenkins vs. Smith Juarez

JenkinsSmith Juarez

Despite low voter turnout, competition narrows for local candidates

By Susanna P. Barton –
Resident Community News –

The August 14 primary elections yielded a runoff between two candidates for the District 3 School Board seat — former city councilwoman and Englewood activist Suzanne Jenkins and Ashley Smith Juarez, a five-year Bolles School educator and executive director of the Chartrand Foundation . The two residents beat out contenders Jack Daniels, an area resident who took about 20 percent of the votes, and local father, Andy Cordek with 10 percent.
Jenkins and Smith Juarez will be on the Nov. 6 general elections ballot, and already have begun mapping campaign plans for the coming months.
“I am proud of the positive campaign we are running,” Smith Juarez said. “I am focused on promoting education reform, engaging with the community and setting an example for students. We are thankful for the broad support we have received from folks from all walks of life.”
Several experienced campaign volunteers and staff have stepped in to help Smith Juarez with her election work including former Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless spokeswoman Sara Dougherty, and Kelly Harrison, who helped San Marco mediator and attorney Suzanne Bass win her bid for the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court judge Group 34 in August. Dougherty said most of the volunteers working on Smith Juarez’ campaign are people who have met the candidate, liked her ideas and wanted to support her school board bid.
Jenkins also has assembled a group of “neighborhood people, activists.” Jenkins said the people helping her are ones who “want to help because they feel like education is the last piece to making Jacksonville a great city.”
Jenkins, an Englewood High School graduate and Creative Community Solutions CEO whose children attended local public schools, describes herself as a “proven fighter whose past experience fits the situation we face regarding the school board and education,” according to her campaign website. Her campaign slogan is Put Kids 1st. Many local groups and luminaries endorse her including the Duval Teachers Union, University of North Florida Presient John Delaney, State Attorney Angela Corey and W.C. Gentry, current District 3 School Board member.
Smith Juarez’ battle cry is “Better Schools Now!” She aims to: deliver a school district that meets the highest expectations; ensure all schools are inspiring, relevant places for all children to reach their potential; envision school governance differently; provide autonomy to the school based level; and impart a positive, proactive, can-do culture on the school board, according to her website. She is endorsed by many local business leaders as well as Duval Teachers United, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and the Northeast Florida Business Association.

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