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Assistant joins race for superintendent

By JIM ROSS and BARBARA BEHRENDT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2000


INVERNESS -- David Hickey, the outgoing assistant school superintendent, will challenge his boss at the polls this fall.

Hickey announced Friday that he will seek to become Citrus County's next school superintendent. Incumbent Pete Kelly already has filed campaign paperwork.

Hickey will remain assistant superintendent until July 1. At that point, he will return to his former job as principal at Crystal River Middle School. Those plans, long in place, will not change.

Hickey declined to discuss his platform, saying he will provide more details during a news conference at 5 p.m. Thursday at Golden Corral restaurant on State Road 44 in Inverness. The public is invited.

"I have the best interest of the schools in mind. This is the reason that I'm doing this," Hickey said during a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "I want to move the district ahead and take a positive direction and move it toward the future. This is nothing personal."

As assistant superintendent, Hickey has many responsibilities. He will fulfill those obligations, even though he will be working with a man who now is his political opponent. "I have spoken to Mr. Kelly ... We had a good talk," Hickey said.

The Times was unable to reach Kelly on Friday.

Hickey is a 34-year education veteran, with 28 of those years spent in Citrus.

Hickey became assistant superintendent -- the top appointed position in the Citrus education system -- in mid-1998, after Kelly declined to reappoint Tom Maher to that position. At the time, Hickey said he had difficulty leaving Crystal River Middle, where he had served as principal since 1990.

When Hickey and Roberta Long, another top official, decided to leave the county office for school-based jobs, observers questioned whether top people were starting to flee a sinking ship. Kelly said the impression was not accurate; rather, he said those two employees simply wanted a return to the school jobs.

Aside from Kelly and Hickey, the other candidates in the race are Tom Mullins of Inverness, Chris Becker of Lecanto and Ansel Briggs of Homosassa Springs.

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