© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002
TAMPA -- Voters appeared ready to send two newcomers to a runoff and left an incumbent watching late returns Tuesday in two separate Hillsborough County School Board races.
Two-term incumbent Carolyn Bricklemyer held a clear lead in the race for the District 6 countywide seat against substitute teacher Melissa Hernandez and corporate trainer Lynn Isaacson. But Bricklemyer needed 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
In the contest for District 4 in eastern Hillsborough, parent activist Jennifer Faliero was ahead in the four-candidate race to replace Plant City board member Joe Newsome, who is retiring after 24 years.
The top vote-getters will face each other in the Nov. 5 general election.
Despite running a low-key campaign, Bricklemyer, 55, enjoyed widespread support and ample funds after serving eight years on the board.
The South Tampa resident raised about $19,000 from supporters, who included local builders and educators. Her opponents raised $3,000 each.
Bricklemyer said she met with a lot of people throughout the campaign.
"The general feeling I was getting was that we were moving in the right direction," said Bricklemyer. Bricklemyer said she plans to focus on improving internal communication, sticking with the strategic plan and helping the district implement its voluntary desegregation plan in 2004.
Both Hernandez and Isaacson, parents of school-age children, faulted the district in the campaign for wasteful spending.
"I'm just a parent trying to make a difference," said Isaacson, a Town 'N Country resident who once taught kindergarten at a private school.
In District 4, four political newcomers battled it out to replace Newsome.
But late Tuesday, Faliero, 39, was outpacing retired administrator Larry Martin of Plant City, engineer Cliff Roberts of Lithia and retired school administrator John Werner of Seffner in a tight race.
It was a race with all candidates claiming hundreds of their signs were stolen and raising questions about their opponents.
Faliero, a homemaker with two children at Buckhorn Elementary, made headlines after filing a state complaint against Martin. She said many of his campaign signs lacked the word "for" between his name and the seat he sought.
Throughout her campaign, she emphasized that development needs to be curbed in areas where schools are overcrowded. She also said the board needs a makeover.
Faliero raised less money than any of her opponents: only $4,200. She relied on her experience as a member of the Buckhorn PTA.
Martin campaigned on his 39-year career in the school district and raised $33,000, more than his opponents combined.
"I think the voters are going to speak," said Martin, 68. "We had a lot of people and we worked real hard."
Martin said he would like to improve teacher attendance, give schools more control over their funds and decentralize some of the district's administration.
The District 2 seat, which was not on the ballot, was decided after incumbent Candy Olson received no opposition. It is her third term on the board.
-- Melanie Ave can be reached at 226-3400 or email@example.com.