Coleman, Laviano face runoff election
By ROBERT KING
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000
Coleman, a former School Board member, won more than 49 percent of the vote. To win outright, she needed 50 percent plus one vote -- a goal that she appears to have missed by fewer than 200 votes in a race where almost 20,000 were cast.
Coleman advances to a Nov. 7 runoff against second-place finisher Shannon Laviano, a recent law school graduate who picked up the endorsement of the Hernando teachers union.
Laviano, a first-time candidate, earned just under 19 percent of the vote. Dominick Ruggiero, a former transit bus driver who ran for this seat in 1996, received nearly 17 percent. Raymond Wing, a decorated Vietnam veteran who has been a substitute teacher the past two years, won nearly 16 percent.
This was the first School Board race since a 1998 amendment to the Florida Constitution made such races non-partisan. A quiet race livened up in the last week as Coleman became the focus of attacks from her opponents and people close to Chocachatti Elementary School who questioned her views on funding for the magnet school.
Coleman, 45, taught in Hernando's schools for 10 years and had three sons come through the system. She served on the School Board from 1992 to 1996. She decided not to run again in 1996 because of what she said were increased family obligations and frustration with the district's reluctance to change.
Laviano, 35, entered the School Board race this spring while finishing law school and preparing to take the bar exam. She said her candidacy is an attempt to improve the schools for her two children -- one a preschooler, the other a second-grader.
Laviano has police academy training.
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