Party Switches Mean Dems Control Sarasota School Board

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY FEB 20, 2020

Democrats now hold a majority on the Sarasota County School Board.

School Board members Jane Goodwin and Caroline Zucker both changed their party registration from Republican to Democrat. That means that along with Shirley Brown, three of five seats are held by registered Democrats.

But Goodwin reminded the board remains a nonpartisan entity, and said her own decision to switch parties was motivated by both local and national politics. “The real impetus was the fact I feel the Republicans have swung much farther to the right than I’m willing to go,” she said.

She started volunteering with Republicans back in college, and said she voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. But now she’s dissatisfied with the state of the party and switched her registration just ahead of the deadline to modify registration so she can vote in the March 17 Democratic Presidential Preference Party. For what it’s worth, she’s looking at the centrists running in that race.

Republican leaders for their part said they had little use for Zucker or Goodwin in their ranks.

“For years, many members of the Republican Party — myself included — have been frustrated that Jane Goodwin and Caroline Zucker would campaign as registered Republicans, get elected as registered Republicans, and then vote with Democrats,” said Sarasota Republican State Committeeman Christian Ziegler, “such as when they joined with the lone Democrat to provide our disgraced former Superintendent with a pay increase and protected him for months at the expense of the taxpayers, school district, teachers and students.”

Ziegler, also a Sarasota County Commissioner, is married to School Board Member Bridget Ziegler.

Jack Brill, acting chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota, said he’s happier knowing officials that are Republicans share the party’s values. “We can make sure Republican voters know who they really are,” he said.

Neither Zucker nor Goodwin intend to seek re-election. Zucker will wrap up her time on the board at the end of this year and Goodwin serves until her term ends in 2022.

Sarasota Democratic Party Chair JoAnne DeVries, meanwhile, welcomed the new party members. “I don't believe the change of registration is going to change the dynamics of the School Board,” DeVries said. “I'm sure they will continue to vote in the best interests of the teachers and students.”

Goodwin said she’s taken many arrows through the years from conservatives, especially when she chaired a political committee in support of a school sales tax in 2010. She’s also had problems with state policy on vouchers and charter schools.

“This is a statement,” she said, “but it’s also an evolution of me personally.”

Photos: Jane Goodwin, Caroline Zucker

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