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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Congratulations Cheryl Grymes, please be great

From the Times UnionBy Khristopher J. Brooks

In a race slated to be neck-and-neck the entire way, challenger Cheryl Grymes defeated incumbent Martha Barrett for the District 1 seat on the Duval County School Board.

Shortly after election results were released, Grymes, 58, said she believed her leadership and courage led to her win.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the board will look like and, from there, bringing on a new superintendent,” Grymes said Tuesday night.

Grymes said she was aware of the difficulty in defeating an incumbent board member but felt voters picked her because “people are really ready for a change.”

“And I have a great deal of respect for Martha,” Grymes said. “It was really difficult. It was tough raising money. We all really just worked hard.”

During the past several weeks, Barrett and Grymes have ran clean, cordial campaigns, politely yet firmly laying out their stances on each issue.

But the Jacksonville Public Safety Officers, which created negative mailers in the District 3 race, also created negative mailers in the Barrett-Grymes race.

The safety officers group is an electioneering communications organization chaired by Paul Daragjati, the lawyer for Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police. The group’s treasurer is Nelson Cuba, president of the police union.

On the front of the mailer, a big bold headline says “Cheryl Grymes wants the school board to go back like it was in 1997.” On the reverse, the mailer asks voters to “Tell Cheryl Grymes we aren’t going back! Our schools are moving forward.”

Grymes said Tuesday night that she saw the mailer and called it disappointing.

“It really was not of merit,” Grymes said, adding that the message only “motivated some of my supporters.”

“Someone actually sent me a check because of it,” Grymes said.

Grymes served on the School Board 12 years ago. She said Tuesday that her next four years will be much different than in the late 1990s.

“Back then most of our issues were over a lawsuit over some sensitive issues, and we didn’t really talk about academic achievement too much,” she said. “And I’m sure this time we’ll have some significant budget issues that we didn’t have to deal with 12 years ago.”

Barrett, 62, will leave the seat with some substantial experience in public governance. She served on the board from 2000 to 2008.

She returned in 2009 after winning a special election and has served ever since., (904) 359-4104


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