BY JAMES HARPER
Ida Duncan Wright, a Bethune-Cookman University instructor, is hoping that with the return of college students in January and the end of the holiday season, she will be able to defeat Kathy Williams, retired educator and widow of incumbent School Board member Al Williams for his school board seat.
The runoff election is Jan. 15.
Wright garnered the most votes during the Dec. 18 primary but not enough to win race against Williams and three other candidates.
Wright received 1,538 votes (39 percent) to Williams’ 1,023 votes (26 percent). Wright had to win 50 percent plus 1 vote to avoid a runoff.
The B-CU instructor said that among the reasons she is better qualified for the seat is because she was born and raised in Daytona Beach.
“I’m also a parent with a child that is currently in the system. I’m a current educator and a small business owner. I am really the total package. I am more in touch with current issues Volusia County is facing,” Wright said.
Election turns to Newtown
Wright told the Daytona Times on Wednesday about her thoughts on the massacre that took place last Friday at an elementary school in Newtown Conn., where a 20-year-old lone gunman killed 26 children and staff.
“People want to blame it on guns. You don’t have to have a gun to do what he did. Mental health is an issue we are going to have to address,” Wright remarked.
Williams, a Chicago educator, disagreed with Wright’s conclusion that she was the best candidate.
“You work so you can win. I was thankful to place,” said Williams, who is hoping to replace her husband who died Oct. 1 before he could be sworn for another term. He had won that election in an Aug. 16 race against Wright.
“I have a full life. With his passing, I have an opportunity to take my experience to serve the community. Boards I have been on centered around children – a natural outgrowth of what I’ve done in this community,” Williams related.
“Everyone has their own expertise. I have been a teacher, principal of a high school, and an administrator. I bring an experience base that will get me right up to speed,” Williams added.
Williams also commented on the Newtown massacre, suggesting more school resource officers are needed.
“School resource officers prevent a lot of trouble. They understand the children and know the homes they come from. Children will go to them and tell them things – troubles they may be having with family at home,” she explained.
Low turnout for special election
Turnout was only 3,972 voters, or about 6 percent of the 66,166 registered voters in District 2, according to the elections office.
Among other candidates, Teresa Valdes finished third with 22 percent, Deborah Haigh Nader came in fourth with 8 percent and Horace Anderson Jr. finished last with 6 percent.
The winner of the Jan. 15 runoff will earn a four-year term that pays $34,010 annually and will be the second new member to join the five-seat School Board. Linda Costello defeated longtime school board member Judy Conte during the November general election.