Black Versus White In Broward School Board Race





One of Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie’s toughest critics has a re-election opponent.

The challenge to School Board member Nora Rupert of Coconut Creek by a Haitian American activist suggests a 2018 August primary that could degenerate into a nasty ethnic fight.

Rupert’s frequent target is Runcie, who is arguably the leading black face in Broward public life.

Rupert is white. Her new challenger Mikelange “Mr. Mike” Olbel is black.

Olbel filed papers with the county elections office to open his campaign last week.

The challenger is the founder and chief executive of  Team Saving Our Youth, a local organizations that helps underprivileged youths.

On the group’s website, Olbel is called Mr. Mike. He is described as having “successfully coached and trained many individuals in the area of life skills planning across the US. Mr. Mike happens to be the most sought after youngest CEO in South Florida for his expertise to assist with preventing crime in the community.”


Oldel Picture


Mikelange “Mr. Mike” Olbel


It is not known at this early date how Olbel’s campaign will be waged.  Whatever he does, his ethnicity will influence the election.

Identity politics is not new in Broward or anywhere in the United States.

For years when Jewish retirees dominated elections here, politicians made naked appeals to Jews. Candidates who never saw the inside of a synagogue suddenly were donning yarmulkes and bragging about their ties to the Jewish community.

The latest wrinkle in ethnic appeals has been to protect Runcie, an African American. Some of his supporters have beat back any criticism the superintendent by using blatant ethnic appeals to the black community.

Whether Runcie is behind these black identity pressure tactics is not known.

What is known is that using Runcie‘s blackness is politically clever.  The strategy has made the white Democrats on the School Board, who all view themselves as liberals on racial issues, very uncomfortable.

Although she may be uncomfortable, Rupert has not backed down. She has continued to question Runcie’s policies despite the significant number of black voters in her north Broward School Board District 7.

Rupert joined members Heather Brinkworth and Robin Bartleman in writing that Runcie “needs improvement” in his evaluation last September.

The three Board members have questioned Runcie‘s hiring practices. They blame Runcie for the failure to get school construction started more than two years after passage of the $800 bond issue. They blame him for the lack of notable improvements in student achievement.

Bartleman is elected countywide, diminishing black anger aimed at her in any election. Brinkworth’s Fort Lauderdale-based School Board district has five times more white voters than black voters.

But Rupert is much more potentially vulnerable to the ire of black voters.  Her district has many, many black voters.




Nora Rupert


Rupert’s School Board District 7 stretches over heavily white enclaves of North Broward like Margate and Coconut Creek to the black-dominated precincts of west Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach.

There were 88,878 white voters in the district at the beginning of the year, compared with 34,068 blacks, 20,199 Hispanics and 12,199 who classify themselves as “other.”

Those figures are not the whole story.

Although School Board races are non-partisan, many other contests on the primary ballot contain party labels.

There are 75,269 Democrats in District 7, compared to 36,581 Republicans and 40,994 no party or independents.

Since independents can only vote in Florida in non-partisan primary races, they tend vote less in primaries.  So in District 7, Democrats will dominate the primary.

A big hunk of those registered Democrats are blacks.

Blacks can have an oversized influence on the District 7 primary….if they turnout and vote as a bloc.

That’s a big “If.”

It will be black versus white in School Board District 7.

Haitian-American Olbel is challenging Rupert, a School Board member who gets the most notoriety for criticizing Broward’s first black school superintendent — Runcie.

This one is about to get interesting.





12 Responses to “Black Versus White In Broward School Board Race”

  1. Floridan says:

    It seems this article would be more appropriate once you learned something about Olbel’s positions on the issues, including Runcie.

  2. Amber Vaughan says:

    “Leading black face…”

    “Blacks can have an oversized influence on the District 7 primary….if they turnout and vote as a bloc.That’s a big “If.”

    Buddy, sir. You might as well said blacks don’t vote because that’s what you alluded to. Perhaps, backing your statement up with previous voting statistics would would have come off less demeaning. Then again, I’m not sure you care. Best of luck to you as you develop as a writer.

  3. Mia says:

    Here we go again! Why is everything a race issue?? How about a quality issue?? How about a qualified issue?? Mrs. Rupert was the first to see Mr. Runcie’s flaws. A lot of us were fooled but not her. The black community in Deerfield knows the truth, as do so many others. They just never give Mrs. Rupert the credit she deserves. Keep your head up Mrs. Rupert… WE know what you stand for!!!

  4. Tom James says:

    An off election year school board primary?
    You’re talking about turnout in the single digits.
    Supervoters dominate these elections.
    Last year in a Presidential election year, turnout was only 16%.
    Should be an easy re election for Rupert.

  5. Roger Moore says:

    I don’t see the point of this post. Runcie has lived a pretty privileged life and has very little in common with poorer folks in this district. His blackness has never really been an issue to anyone. But why shouldn’t a candidate reflect the folks in that district? Students are leaving in droves for charters in Osgood’s district. Her predecessor did barely anything to help that district. Ben Williams was a joke. Show up for photo ops but never walk the schools they represent. I just don’t see this playing out along skin color lines. If a school board member does a great job representing their district than those are the facts they run on. Is having a little competition a bad thing? Let’s not forger who shows up for non-presidential elections.

  6. What about David Brown says:

    Interesting that many people believe that Nora’s advisor wand campaign manager David Brown ran a race baiting campaing against Dr. Snipes. Then there is the fact that David Brown had his own crony he wanted hired over Runcie. Nora has been after Runcie from day one. Anyone who knows Nora knows she doesn’t make a move without the approval of David Brown.

    If we are going to talk race, a conversation could go both ways in this race for this seat.


    If you can point to one comment that David Brown made in the campaign that would fall under the category of “race baiting” I will be glad to post it here. Running against a black office holder is not “race baiting.” Its politics.

  7. intheknow says:

    Mr. Runcie had sunk to an all time low. Ms. Ruppert is actually one of the Board members who honestly cares about children…staff..and the district without the the thought of color race religion or gender. Runcie is now bullying the board with the backing supporting of a raced based agenda. When is this Board going to have enough?

  8. liz carealot says:

    I am no fan of Mr. Runcie. I applaud Mrs. Ruppert for speaking up. I firmly believe that The superintendent’s position should be an elected position. Since arriving to broward county, I’ve noticed that this superintendent does not support educators. He and the school board have allowed administrators who are unqualified to remain in their positions. Teachers are bullied and disrespected by these administrators on a rectangular basis. We are losing the best teachers and our children are the victims.

  9. carolina says:

    Nora has always been a supporter for our children & is not afraid to speak out in their benefit. She, Robin, & Heather are the only board members who stand up for them – those three don’t see color; they just see kids who need their support. Hang in there Nora; I pray that you will prevail.

  10. juliet hibbs says:

    More of Mr. Runcie and his clique working to divide Broward further! Rupert has been a voice of common sense, along with Brinkworth and bartleman, for years! Runcie does not do his job! Never has, never will and he will continue to deplete Broward for the future. Anyone notice all the REAL property (Real estate) that has been sold these last 5 years??

  11. moreofthesamecrap says:

    More Chicago style tactics to get rid of those who oppose him.

  12. FireRuncie says:

    Anyone who goes by “Mr. Mike” can not be taken seriously. Rupert should crush Runcie’s clown.