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Voters elect Murray, Powers to county's School Board

By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published November 3, 2004


INVERNESS - Voters elected two new members - both of them teachers - to the Citrus County School Board.

Lecanto High School teacher and coach Bill Murray will fill the District 4 seat that Patience Nave now holds. She chose not to seek re-election. He received about 55 percent of the vote, beating out Cynthia "Cindy" Cino, a registered nurse, in the nonpartisan race.

In District 5, Inverness Middle School guidance counselor Linda Powers took just more than 63 percent of the vote, defeating carpenter Bruce Bellamy. Powers will finish the unexpired term of Sandra "Sam" Himmel, who quit to run for superintendent. Himmel won that race.

Both School Board races raised an interesting question: What does the School Board need, more educators or more people from the outside who could provide a different perspective?

The flawed Homosassa Elementary School construction project provided the grist for much of the criticism of the district's operations. All four of the candidates said they would have taken a much more active role in getting to the bottom of the problems.

Murray, 63, touted his 40 years of experience as an educator, saying that would help him make good decisions.

Murray could not be reached for comment after the votes were tallied.

Cino, 48, said a parent's perspective was needed more than another educator's. She was unavailable to comment Tuesday night.

With experience in teaching, counseling, business and community service, Powers, 60, said she had a well-rounded background. Improving communication at all levels in the school system and community has been a focus of her campaign.

Arriving at the elections office just after the vote tallies were final, a beaming Powers was congratulated by well-wishers.

"I'm very pleased," she said. "I ran an issues-oriented race. The public heard the issues, and they responded."

Bellamy had touted his ability to relate to all people in the community, from parents to school bus drivers. The 51-year-old Citrus native also touted his years of coaching experience.

After he learned of his defeat, Bellamy said he did not regret running and that he would try politics again because he believes people did respond to his message.

"I ran a good race, and I'll be back," he said.

Murray will serve a full four-year term. Powers will serve two years to complete Himmel's term.

The School Board job pays $28,800.