St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Experienced teacher wins out over mom

By ROBERT KING

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- Gail Coleman, who taught in Hernando County schools for 91/2 years and served on the School Board for four years, was restored to the office she left in 1996 with an overwhelming victory Tuesday.

Coleman captured nearly two-thirds of the vote to defeat first-time candidate Shannon Laviano, who was supported by the teachers union and several district officials. She outspent Coleman by more than 2-to-1.

Coleman, 45, considered the election a job application process, accepting a few donations but making no fundraising efforts and posted no campaign signs. Her expenses were limited to a few print ads.

She banked on her lingering name recognition, the endorsements of both local newspapers and the theory the public would choose the experienced educator for the job.

"It's a good example that you don't have to spend a lot of money on campaigning or signs on the street corner if you are right on the issues," Coleman said.

She took handshakes at Tuesday night's School Board meeting from staffers and board members, including Jerry Milby, who chose not to run for a second term.

Laviano, 36, campaigned as a mother who could bring a parent's perspective to the board. She enjoyed the support of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, School Board Chairman Jim Malcolm and top district office staff.

Both candidates agreed that teachers need more competitive pay, that a renewal of a half-cent sales tax may be needed to build new schools and that teachers and principals should be trusted with decisions on promoting students.

Laviano had cast Coleman as a candidate whose first term was one of friction and divisiveness.

Coleman countered by saying she merely was willing to stand up for what she thought was right.

In the Sept. 5 primary, Coleman captured 49.1 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race. Laviano finished second with just 18 percent. But Coleman fell 183 votes shy of what was necessary to avoid Tuesday's runoff.

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From the Times election desk

National
  • Recount: Presidency hangs on Florida duel
  • Hour by hour, outcome gets more uncertain
  • State by state
  • Republicans make gains in skirmish for 83 seats
  • Uneasy mood in Austin flips as votes do
  • Voters swayed by economy, health care, education, Social Security
  • Too close to call in Florida but TV did -- regretfully
  • Presidential campaign lures people to polls
  • Fight for Congress: no clear-cut winner
  • Election 2000 in brief

  • State
  • Nelson takes Senate seat
  • Republican Crist well on path to victory
  • Incumbent Crow slightly ahead
  • Race turns into nail-biter
  • Byrd dominating in bid for third term
  • Farkas soundly beats Fischer
  • Foster breaks ahead, takes lead over Baldwin
  • Wallace jumps to early lead over his challenger
  • Henriquez holds strong lead
  • Cowin gains ground in home county
  • Incumbent strides ahead of newcomer
  • Justice leading Kersteen by a comfortable margin
  • Murman headed for second term
  • Newcomer battle ends with Republican Berfield as victor
  • Waters blocks Brennan challenge
  • Miller's hopes look to be affirmed
  • Miller overpowers former Democrat
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Crist has slight lead on Castor
  • Thurman keeps District 5 seat
  • Bilirakis has big lead in District 9
  • C.W. Bill Young winning handily
  • Bullet train heading for success
  • Davis wins third term
  • Putnam takes early lead
  • Incumbent Russell's win thinner than predicted
  • GOP Rep. Miller is likely victor
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Gallagher coasts to victory and his old job
  • Littlefield again defeats McLaughlin
  • Fasano, Fiorentino winning return trip
  • Election roundup
  • Briefly

  • Pinellas
  • Pinellas commission now full
  • One race won by landslide, another by a single vote
  • Lealman heads toward fire tax
  • Bobel, Dedman win approval
  • All changes to charter pass voters' muster
  • Peluso, Henry lead pack of 5 candidates

  • Hillsborough
  • Voters favor most amendments
  • Democrats bustle to get the vote out
  • Iorio builds her solid lead on record
  • Holt closing in on a third term
  • Term limits prevailing
  • Ober poised in attorney race
  • Republicans may reign in commission
  • Ake appears on his way to keep tenure unbroken
  • Results mixed on city amendments
  • Incumbent trails in four-way race
  • Two incumbents, Miller leading

  • Pasco
  • Altman holds slim lead
  • Challenger upsets incumbent Cannon
  • Second run is the charm for Schrader
  • Johnson captures Meadow Pointe post

  • Hernando
  • Bernardini bests longtime adversary
  • Sikes will succeed her sister upon retirement
  • Experienced teacher wins out over mom
  • Williams captures historic win
  • Early tally: Andrews first, Martin second, Hollander third
  • Democrats take over the board
  • Big ticket polls' big draw

  • Citrus
  • Activist Warren sails past Cooper
  • Council incumbents out; new mayor in
  • Schultz wins, will serve a final term ending in 2004
  • Hickey wins Citrus superintendent race
  • Bush is easy winner in the schoolhouse
  • Eager voters met with long lines
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