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.