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Alan Clendenin to run for Hillsborough County School board

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Alan Clendenin, the first vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party, a member of the Democratic National Committee and a retired air traffic controller, announced Friday that he will run for the Hillsborough County School Board in District 7.

Clendenin, 57,  has never run for any elected office, but he’s a prominent Democrat who came close to leading the state party back in January of 2013.

In a brief interview, Clendenin says he likes the direction that Superintendent Jeff Eakins has made in the past year, and wants to be part of that progress moving forward.

“It’s a great strategic plan to stay focused on what’s important – and that is the education of kids and giving them an opportunity to succeed in life,” he says, adding that he wants to focus more on technical training.

“You can’t have a one-sized fits all for kids, and having an assumption that everybody is on a track to go to college I think it’s not just it failing students, but it’s failing our community,” he says.

District 7 is currently held by Carol Kurdell, who has served since 1992. She announced in a statement last month that she would run for a seventh term, unleashing a floodgate of candidates to succeed her. Those include former Tampa City Councilman Joe Caetano, Lynn Gray, Stanley Gray, Matt Swanson and Randy Toler. Toler ran for the countywide District 6 seat in 2014.

Kurdell was part of the minority on the board a year ago who supported MaryEllen Elia. The popular superintendent was ousted by the board in a 4-3 vote over a year ago, a vote that Kurdell was critical of.

When asked his thoughts about that controversy, Clendenin said he didn’t want to revisit the past.

“My plan is to move forward, ” said. “The school board and the schools in Hillsborough County are on the right path to rebuilding. I don’t have any interest in looking back. I can’t change what has happened.”

Clendenin grew up in Sanford in Central Florida, but has lived in Tampa for 28 years.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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