Candidates Stretch Names For School Board


A  J. P. Taravella High School teacher has been running for School Board since last June and almost nobody paid attention.

Then Stephanie Kraft said she wasn’t running for re-election. People suddenly started paying attention to the race.

Teacher David “Dave Thomas is now running for an open seat.

Thomas has raised $3,305 and put $7,450 of his own money in the race in the past seven months.  One bad sign: Thomas already spent $6,340.

His campaign is being handled by Barry Harris’ Sunshine Political Connections.

Other candidates in the race include Stewart “Stew Jackson Webster.

Could Webster’s name be any longer? 

There is a theory that longer names stand out on the ballot and that gets candidates votes.   Other than candidates, the only other group regularly listed with their middle names is criminals.

The theory that a long name helps candidates has no proven basis, according to’s resident political scientist, Jim Kane.

“There has been no scientific test of long ballot names that I know of.  I keep up on studies like that, said Kane, who teaches polling at the University of Florida.

Kane said what has been proven important is being listed first on the ballot.  It is worth up to 3 percent of the vote.

That seems to give a big advantage to those School Board candidates with a last name at the beginning of the alphabet.  And that seems to leave Webster at a disadvantage, no matter how long his ballot name is!

A third candidate is Shelly Solomon Heller (There goes that extra name again.).  If the election was held with only the candidates in the race now, Heller would be listed first on the ballot.

The list of candidates might not be complete yet. Everybody is waiting for Lauren Book Lim (three names again!) to decide whether she is running. 

Her lobbyist father Ron Book is said to have pledged $500,000 for her race.   (If Daddy Book was running for office, he would probably appear on the ballot like this: Ronald “Ronnie” Lee Book.) 

Here is Thomas’ first news release from last week:

Dave Thomas is a candidate for Broward County School Board District 4. Mr. Thomas retired from the military after 23 years to teach and for the last 16 years has taught in both Miami-Dade and Broward school systems, beginning in middle school. He is currently at J. P. Taravella High School.  He said “With my classroom experience I will be an advocate for the students, their parents and our teachers.  My goal as a board member is a budget that targets the essentials needed to educate our children and to ensure the system is fair and equitable for all. Financial accountability will be Thomas’ priority for making sure money is available for essentials.

Thomas’s approach is not as a politician but as a teacher and parent. His two step- children attended Broward public schools from K through 12th grade and one graduated from a public university, University of Florida. His wife is also a Broward school teacher. Mr. Thomas’ classroom and military experience will give him a different perspective concerning the challenges faced by the Broward school system. Special interest is of no interest to Mr. Thomas, but integrity, honesty and openness is crucial. 

Mr. Thomas filed his paperwork to run for the school board position in June 2009. He said “I love teaching but at this point in my life I believe I can accomplish more for students as a board member than I can in the classroom. I can contribute to the progression of education in Broward County. Thomas’ advocacy will elevate the education for all parties involved in the process.

10 Responses to “Candidates Stretch Names For School Board”

  1. No to Dave Thomas says:

    just what we need, another teacher, and one with no kids currently in the system. No thank you.

  2. Git R Done says:

    Webster doesn’t live in the District, does he? Don’t think so…

  3. Gina says:

    Heller would be a change that is needed.
    We don’t need a teacher’s union flunky or a lobbyist’s daughter.

  4. ughhhh says:

    Nothing a felon and recnt wall mart checker Barry Harris at the helm. It’s funny to see these useless retreads finding candidates dumb enough to pay them money without looking into their backgrounds

    FROM BUDDY: According to the New Times, Harris was charged in 1980 with using a bad check when he was 28. He told the New Times that “he’s not officially a felon because adjudication was withheld.”
    Harris is a veteran figure in the local Democratic Party and has been involved in numerous campaigns.

  5. Donna Quixote says:

    Barry Harris is running the
    Thomas campaign? Are there no
    campaign people without the
    sleazy baggage??? Is the political
    machine that insiduous that the
    campaigns don’t care about the
    backgrounds of the people who are
    supposedly “in charge” of the
    campaign? STOP THE MADNESS!!
    Demand transparency, honesty, and
    ethical behavior. Barry Harris???

  6. No to Stewart Webster, too says:

    Stewart Webster has more baggage than the cargo hold of a Greyhound bus. Anyone remember him from his last few races? A search of the archives will be very revealing.

  7. From a female says:

    Women use a middle name so people that knew them before marriage or their family will know them — not to make their names longer on the ballot.

    FROM BUDDY: Some women use their birth names as a middle name. Some don’t. And some add the name when they run for office.

  8. Harris Barris says:

    Donna Quixote and Ughhh…

    Armchair Generals with nothing better to do but pontificate. Slamming Harris for a 30 year old mistake is just plain stupid. At least he’s worked for people he believes in. And what have either of you done to make a difference lately? Post stupidity?

  9. Unfair to criticize Barry? says:

    @ ughhhh
    @ Donna Quixote

    Who the hell are you to slam and berate Barry Harris?

    I am sure you righteous, self-pontificating defamers have absolutely nothing in your closets, do you. You and everyone you know and respect are squeaky clean, right?

    Let he, who is without sin, cast the first stone.

    People who continue to anonymously berate others who made a mistake 3 decades ago have no socially redeeming value in this world.

    Barry Harris has more ability in his little finger than many other campaign manager wanna be’s.

    THAT’S why he gets hired.

  10. BrowardTeacher says:

    I’ve taught for 26 years in Broward and have seen many SB members come and go. Most have been “mommies” who only care about getting their own kid special treatment or use this position to move to higher office. No one thinks about the kids.
    A current Broward teacher is your BEST choice. Dave Thomas teaches because he cares about ALL the students and ALL the teachers which should please ALL the parents. He’s inside schools which gives him a unique perspective which has been sorely missing.
    Gina – you obviously have no idea what you are talking about since your ‘facts’ are incorrect. Dave’s children already went through the BC school system, which would allow him to give all of his time to work on the board.
    I don’t know Harris, but a bad check 30 years ago? Get a life people.
    Check Dave’s background and you will find nothing unethical. He has more useful experience than Webster and BookLin combined. A retired Navy Lt. Comm., teacher for 15 years, and life experience has more to offer than a daddy’s girl who happens to have a lot of money.