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O'Shea wins seat; Brown wins second term

Published November 8, 2006

[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Celebrating with Mary Brown, far right, on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg are Brown's husband, Norman Brown, far left, and Brown's granddaughter, Monique Brown. In 2002, Brown became the first black person elected to the School Board.

Mary Brown won a second term and Peggy O'Shea scored an easy victory Tuesday, ending a campaign for the Pinellas County School Board that began with 16 candidates.

With four seats up for grabs when the election season started, Pinellas voters opted for modest change on a School Board that has suffered from acrimony and inefficiency in recent years.

O'Shea, a longtime education advocate making her second bid for a School Board seat, will become the board's only new face. In the countywide race for the District 3 seat, she defeated Sean Michael O'Flannery, a social studies teacher and volleyball coach at Lakewood High School.

Brown, who in 2002 became the first black person elected to the board, defeated Jennifer S. Crockett in the south county District 7 race.

Brown and O'Shea were the top vote-getters in their primary elections but failed to secure a majority, forcing runoffs Tuesday.

Longtime board members Linda Lerner and Nancy Bostock were easily re-elected in the primary.

"We kind of had the feeling we were going to be strong all along," O'Shea said of her showing Tuesday. She maintained a lead of about 18 percentage points throughout the night.

She said she hopes the board will move quickly on several initiatives, most notably high school reform. O'Shea cited a recent survey of Pinellas high school students in which they noted a lack of respect between students and teachers.

"You've been talking about high school reform. Well, let's do it," she said.

Brown campaigned on a platform that included strengthening vocational programs and closing the achievement gap.

"I want to see our students graduate with good skills and good work habits," Brown said. "We also must get control of discipline in the classroom."

Crockett said she was encouraged that she and O'Flannery got as many votes as they did - about 40 percent apiece.

"I think that indicates a lot of people were looking for a change," she said.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 02:43:35]

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