Hillsborough School Board candidate Dipa Shah eclipses $100K in fundraising

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Hillsborough County School Board hopeful Dipa Shah has broken a fundraising record on Friday by becoming the first candidate in the race to raise over $100,000 in donations.

Shah, a business attorney from Valrico, faces incumbent April Griffin and six other candidates for the at-large District 6 seat, which covers all of Tampa, Brandon/Valrico and the surrounding region.

Hillsborough County School District, which oversees 266 schools, is the eighth largest school district in the U.S.

As the first Indian-American running for Hillsborough County school board, it is also Shah’s first run for political office. Most of the support, she says, has come from all across of Hillsborough County, including an endorsement by Tampa Fire Fighters #754.

“I am doing this for the kids and for the future,” she in a statement issued after filing a campaign finance report of $103,247.40 totalling both in-kind and cash contributions.

“We need to continuously challenge kids and raise the bar on what we expect from there,” Shah told Nitish S. Rele in a recent interview for KhaasBaat.com. “There should be talk in terms of teamwork, resolving problems, so we can achieve a common goal.”

Shah has served on a number of PTSA boards and committees, including as chair of the Williams Middle Magnet School Advisory Council and Strawberry Crest High School PTSA among others. She is also a member of the Hillsborough County Association of Women Lawyers (HAWL), the South Asian Bar Association and is a graduate of Leadership Brandon Class of 2013 and Leadership Tampa Bay Class of 2014.

The primary for the non-partisan race is on Aug. 26, where a candidate getting 51 percent of votes wins the election. If no one receives a simple majority, the top two vote-getters face off on Nov. 4.

For her to succeed in the primary, Shah is hoping for a strong turnout, asking every eligible voter to cast a ballot.

“Every single vote counts,” she said.

“Voting makes a difference,” adds Shah’s husband Suketu. “Look at what happened in India recently with the national elections. And along with her campaign, we are hoping the Indian-American community here also becomes more politically active.”

In the last U.S. census, 15,242 people of Indian descent were recorded living in Hillsborough County and 12,697 in the surrounding counties of, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Manatee.

Shah’s campaign website is www.VoteDipa.com.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.