PARKLAND (CBSMiami/AP) – With the primary fast approaching Broward candidates are making a last minute push for votes.
And at times the campaigns have turned nasty.
During early voting there were numerous contentious exchanges between District 6 school board candidates, Incumbent Laurie Levinson and challenger Richard Mendelson, at various polling sites.
Davie police and Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies were called out several times.
“There have been vicious and personal attacks against me in the wake of what happened at Stoneman Douglas,” said Levinson, referring to the mass shooting that claimed 17 lives last February.
“Frankly I think it’s time she had a real opponent, she hasnt had it before and she isn’t handling that adversity well,” said Mendelson.
Mendelson, a college professor and former Stoneman Douglas student and teacher, was a good friend of murdered coach Aaron Feis.
Mendelson has been vocal in his criticism of how the school board responded to the tragedy
“I’ve always approached everything with integrity and there is no integrity on the board,” he said.
Levinson said the race is about more than Parkland.
“I want to focus on education this is what I am passionate about, making sure every student achieves their potential,” she says
The father of murdered Stoneman Douglas senior Meadow Pollack has also been dealing with law enforcement.
Pollack, another outspoken critic of the school board and superintendent Robert Runcie, is backing Mendelson and at-large school board candidate Ryan Petty who also lost his daughter in the mass shooting.
BSO has been called while Pollack has been campaigning during early voting.
“While they are talking to police I’m getting another 20 votes. They want to make this about politics and to me this is about what’s right for the kids and teachers,” said Pollock.
Pollock wants Superintendent Robert Runcie fired, a move that Mendelson supports.
Runcie says he supports all the school board candidates running for re-election which includes Levinson, Nora Rupert, Donna Korn and Ann Murray.
All four face challengers in the primary.
School board member Abby Freedman decided not to seek re-election.
Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter was killed in the massacre, is running for her seat.
Alhadeff and Petty say they plan to continue fighting for school safety, increased transparency, and increased accountability.
Each was spurred to run because of the tragedy.
“On February 14th when Alyssa was brutally murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school I did not want any other parent to go through the pain and anguish I go thru every day,” Alhadeff said. “I did not want any child to ever have to say to their mother, mommy, am I going to die today when I go to school?” she added.
“Like many other families, we will dedicate ourselves to change the system that would allow somebody like Nicolas Cruz to fall through the cracks,” Petty said.
Both candidates plan to center their races around school safety and both say their work on changing gun laws in Florida is a start. “The laws that we passed in Florida have been used over 130 times to keep firearms away from those who would hurt themselves and others,” said Petty, “That’s why I’m filing to run for school board.”
They’re also calling for transparency and accountability. “I asked our elected leaders several pointed questions at the CNN town hall the week after my daughter was murdered,” recalled Alhadeff. “I’m still not satisfied with the answers to the questions I asked back then.”
Petty is running against incumbent Donna Korn. She said she’s been touched by the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas.
“It’s hard to describe what it was like to lose so many lives and how do we make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she told CNN.
Korn acknowledged that she wants more resources to help students.
“It can never be just about hardening our buildings. It’s really about the students in our buildings,” she said.
“Everyone knows that we need additional resources and part of those resources are guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists but outside of the schoolhouse, the community has to be there to give those additional resources.”
Korn did face criticism recently from April Schentrup, the mother of a Parkland victim, after Korn said at a meeting that it was an amazing school year last year.
Korn told CNN that her words were poorly chosen and that she wanted to reflect on some of the positive accomplishments elsewhere in the district.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)