School Board Members’ Win Is No Victory for Runcie or Bonds






I’ve heard from sources inside the school system’s glass-and-marble skyscraper HQ that Superintendent Robert Runcie is gloating about the primary.

He reported says that:

Tuesday’s re-election of the School Board incumbents prove that the public likes the direction Runcie is taking the school system.  Voters like the job he is doing.

Wrong. Runcie’s toughest critic ran up the biggest vote margin.

I was told that Tuesday’s vote indicates that the Board has regained the trust of the public.

Wrong again.

And other optimists say that the primary results are evidence that voters will support an $800 million bond referendum in November.

Wrong one more time.

Voters re-electing Board members have nothing to do with trusting the school system to wisely spend $800 million.

Re-electing Board members is not the same as voters in November agreeing to raise taxes for the next 30 years.

The strongest critic of the status quo and of Runcie is member Nora Rupert.  She got a huge victory Tuesday, bigger than any other incumbent — an amazing 77.29 percent against Hubert ST Clair’s 22.71 percent.




Nora Rupert: Runcie’s biggest critic gets the biggest win. 


Also winning was Heather Brinkworth, who often questions Runcie and the direction he is taking the system.

Brinkworth’s win had nothing to do with the job the Board is doing.  She won, in part, because she was a woman challenged by two men with hard-to-read Eastern European names — Nick Sakhnovsky and Sam Budyszewick.

She also had a network of grass roots campaigners, many of whom have children in eastern Broward schools like Northeast and Stranahan Highs where years of promises to fix deteriorating facilities have been repeatedly broken.   Will they believe any of the promises the Board makes about spending $800 million bonds?

Laurie Rich Levinson, who recently has shown some distrust of Runcie, won easily. She had a weak challenger that never offered much opposition. Again, Levinson’s win had nothing to do with the policies of the Board.

Two of Runcie’s strongest supporters had the toughest re-election.  If people liked the direction the Board was taking, these incumbents should have won easily.  They didn’t:

Abby Freedman had a highly vocal group of opponents, but they were confined to Parkland, where there are relatively few votes. They never could convince voters in other parts of the district to reject Freeman.  She won by roughly 52-48 percent.

In that race, the issue was the job Freedman was doing and not the job of the whole Board.

Ann Murray won because her opponent Felicia Brunson did not campaign hard outside her Caribbean and African-American communities, according to two observers.

“She needed to reach out and campaign in the white community,” one said. “She already had every black vote.”

Still, Murray narrowly avoided defeat, winning by roughly 300 votes or 51-49 percent.

No one can read Tuesday’s vote like tea leaves and predict the bond issue will pass. If they think that, they are misreading the leaves.



10 Responses to “School Board Members’ Win Is No Victory for Runcie or Bonds”

  1. chacha says:


  2. Close but no Cigar says:

    Agree with your analysis on this issue Buddy.

    The biggest surprise in the end still is the Brunson/Murray race. A lot of folks with some juice had really gotten behind her and she raised some decent scratch (based on the poverty-stricken school board races of late), but couldn’t close the deal.

    Almost as surprising the other way was the Freedman/Mayersohn race. I figured him down and out but when you start looking at the numbers, he won the Parkland/Coral Springs/Tamarac area — and but for big losses in Margate (which has no schools located in District 4 but for some reason votes in the district) and North Lauderdale, he’d have won that seat.

    Nora was always a shoe-in despite having a Holness-sponsored spoiler. I have to give the District credit for looking at the qualifications of the candidates and realizing that Nora has been out there for the community (and been out in the community) from day 1.

    NOTE TO ALL INCUMBENTS – Feel free to drop the “N Word” every now and then — apparently, you’ll still get reelected.

  3. Sam The Sham says:

    Runcie is whistling past the graveyard. He better start polishing up his resume.

  4. Knows for sure says:

    “Ann Murray won because her opponent Felicia Brunson did not campaign hard outside her Caribbean and African-American communities”

    Oh really?

    Felicia Brunson lost because her entire campaign was based upon a 2007 slip-of-the-tongue by Ann Murray and not the issues.

    Felicia Brunson lost because she did not know anything about the District, it’s business or the issues.

    Felicia Brunson lost because she has never attended a single School Board meeting or served on any District Committees.

    Felicia Brunson lost because she could not and would not show up to any candidates forums without her ever present 3-ring binder to coach herself through any questions she was asked. She was still unable to discuss those pesky issues facing the school board at all.

    Felicia Brunson lost because her last piece, the 8-point plan contained points that the School Board and Ann Murray have been doing all along! If she knew anything about the issues, she would have realized this.

    Felicia Brunson lost because she manipulated and twisted the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board interview into nothing more than a racial ambush because she knew nothing about the issues. The Ed Board never discussed any issues or accomplishments by Ann Murray during her alleged “interview” preferring instead to focus solely on that 7-year-old incident. This incident has been asked and answered dozens of times and apologized for many times over.

    Talk about beating a dead horse.

    (Hey SS Ed Board, you got played by Felicia Brunson and you looked like chumps, yet again, for not embellishing on the issues facing the School Board in your “endorsement”.
    No wonder you do not sell newspapers and advertising these days. You are the Nuveau Enquirer, preferring sensationalism over substance. (I only subscribe because I have a bird)

    “She (Brunson) already had every black vote.” Really?

    Felicia Brunson lost because she was an unknowledgeable, novice candidate who prefered to focus her entire campaign on attempting to incite rage in the African-American community over a 7-year-old incident. She thought this would mask her obvious lack of grasp of the issues and carry her to a win.

    NO ONE should use the N-word, yet unfortunately, some members of the African-American community use it every day without any repercussions. I think if it is so offensive, and it certainly is, NO ONE should be allowed to say it. Period.

    Felicia Brunson lost because she did not count on the fact that Ann Murray, in spite of her 2007 mis-speak, still carried much of the vote in the African-American community due to having established a strong, 8 year old voting base because of a solid work ethic. Check the SOE website.

    Ann Murray has been a fixture in many Carver Ranches / Washington Park efforts on behalf of African-American youth. Ask Nadine McCrea and any of the other prominent and respected leaders of the African-American community.

    Did you know that Ann Murray has had an African-American secretary for her entire last term.

    Felicia Brunson lost because all she had for a campaign was the 7-year-old N-word comment and the majority of the voters evidently rejected it.

    Ann Murray prevailed because the majority of the voters in School Board District 1 know she represents them and their children well and works full time at her job because she is retired, has the time to give and chooses to do so.

    These loyal voters, unlike some individuals who would use it for desperate political gain, apparently forgave her for her mis-speak.

    BOTTOM LINE: The people have spoken and that’s the way it is.

    BTW, the 800M Bond issue is DOA.

    On that point Buddy, you are correct.

  5. Mia says:

    Sounds like Murray’s children have spoken. Can’t believe we are calling the use of the “N” word an incident and a mis spoke… Is this even a word??? Such a shame! I am embarrassed to say I work in Broward! The only bright spot is Nora Rupert. The rest sicken me… If anyone called my son the N word or used it as casually as a BOARD member I’d become a force to reckon with… This sucks!!!

  6. Really? says:

    Felicia should have won. She is more intelligent, hardworking, sincere and would have atleast been awake for meetings.Seriously , when was the last time Ann even pulled an item for discussion. What a wasted opportunity for positive change in that district. I hope she can stop kissing Runcie ‘s butt now, Levinson, too. Friedman is a lost cause, District 4 hope for redistricting-atleast Rupert has the schools.This is what happens when you don ‘t vote people.Disgusting.

  7. Juliet Hibbs says:

    To all,
    This Board demonstrates a LACK of respect or care for those they SERVE….the students of Broward. When the head of the EEO can LIE, feeely, with NO opposition from the Board or Runcie and the people do nothing, we are given little choice!

    One example of this is,

    The only hope that we have is the PEOPLE!

    Thank you Buddy. for your HONEST reporting. The Sun Sentinal and all the local media has let the people of Broward down.

    David Golt resigned, but only YOU really reported on it! Thank you so much, from the ONLY former employee hunted like this to stand against them for the students, staff and parents. I can not thank you enough!!!!!! The students in Broward schools benefit from your reporting!

  8. Andrew Markoff says:

    Thank you, “Knows for sure”! Took the words right out of my mouth! That was so well expressed.

    I don’t know who that commenter is, but I had written in my own ballot review and voting recommendations on that I had also perceived Ms. Murray as really knowing and understanding her district and Board issues and recent history. I think that Ms. Brunson appears to be a lovely person who may mean well, but when debating Ann Murray- well, ol’ Annie had hit it right out of the park.

    I had been surprised. Brunson does appear to be a pretty, young professional, but I had no idea that Ann Murray was so astute about school issues until she had that opportunity to express her knowledge and her opinions in front of an audience.

    Comedian Chris Rock has used the “n” word to describe people as of a certain class within the black community. Some Africa-Americans use the word as if to say that you’re no better or that you come from the same background and share the same troubles with racial animosity from whites as they do. For a white person or any other to use the word, however, is nothing but hostile and refers to institutionalized violence and government-sanctioned repression.

    I believe, however, that Murray had used it in an “as if” manner, referring to an old expression often heard at the ball park where she came from in times past. It was shocking to hear about it and required scrutiny, but when someone sincerely apologizes, accept the apology and MOVE ON.

    From what I could tell, Ann Murray was sincere and regretful. We had to judge whether she meant to privilege white schoolchildren over blacks or other people of color, but that didn’t appear to be a legitimate concern to me given her sincerity and her kindness.

    I also appreciate that Ann Murray doesn’t appear to have any ulterior motive. As “knows for sure” wrote, Murray “works full time at her job because she is retired, has the time to give and chooses to do so.”

    It can be awkward to try to defend a white elected rep who admitted to such a gaffe against a black candidate, but “Knows for sure” put it so well. The crux of that election was competence, and Ann Murray proved herself, and I am so glad that the majority of voters apparently shared that perception.

    For those who believe that Felicia Brunson should have won, I’ll remind you that it’s one aspect of a campaign to promise that you’ll do a better job, but it’s another very important aspect to demonstrate that you can as well. Perhaps Brunson would have been better, but the campaign was the opportunity to make that unquestionable, and I didn’t see that happen.

    There were too many district details addressed by Murray while Brunson continually focused on that incident from years ago that had been addressed already, and then there was Brunson’s mantra that she would pay attention to “the entire district.” That wasn’t enough, apparently. Murray knew her stuff and made that evident.

    I wish Ms. Brunson success in her future endeavors, and I hope that her loss in this last election will serve her well as she further refines her skills, her resume and her ambition. That was an interesting race with much to question, but “Knows for sure,” I think, pretty much lays it out.

  9. Really? says:

    #8 and #4- Hardly a mandate of her job as a Board (“bored”) Member. She brings nothing to the position and only rubber stamps the stuporintendent and his Chicago gang.What a waste! Let ‘s hope she starts reading the agendas and stays awake for meetings.

  10. Mia says:

    Seriously?? I cant believe that voters bought this crock! Racism is alive and well in Broward. Disgusting!