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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – One of the more hotly contested races this year in the Primary Election is for seats on the Broward School Board.
The February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High is expected to have a ripple effect and could be a potential game-changer in the races. Five of the board’s nine seats are up for grabs.
“There have been vicious and personal attacks against me in the wake of what has happened,” school board member District 6 Laurie Levison told a group of supporters.
It’s been a contentious, if not vicious battle, for the district seat between Levinson and Richard Mendelson, a college professor, and former Stoneman Douglas student and teacher was a good friend of murdered coach Aaron Feis.
“Frankly I think it’s the time she has a real opponent, she hasn’t really had that before and I don’t think she’s handling that adversity well,” said Mendelson.
Broward sheriff’s deputies have been called on Mendelson while he was campaigning at a school. They’ve also been called on Andrew Pollack whose daughter was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High massacre. He’s been a vocal supporter of Mendelson and two other Stoneman Douglas High parents running for the board.
“They’re making it political, to me, it’s about what’s right for the kids and the teachers, they’re talking to the police, I’m getting another 20 votes,” he said.
Ryan Petty and Lori Alhadeff, who lost their daughters in the Valentine’s Day shooting, are also running.
Petty’s opponent for a countywide seat is incumbent Donna Korn.
“It’s pretty clear that Broward County is underreporting discipline issues on a massive scale. I realized I can make a difference but I have a seat at the table,” she said.
Alhadeff is running for an open seat in the district that includes Stoneman Douglas High.
Mendelson, Petty, and Alhadeff are all running on platforms for improving school safety, saying the district did not make it a priority before the shooting.
Both Mendelson and Pollack want Superintendent Robert Runcie out. Mendelson said he’ll cast that vote if elected.