DeSantis-backed candidates shift Duval school board in Republicans’ favor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval’s school board will look a little different after the victors of Tuesday’s election are sworn in this November.

Two candidates backed by Governor Ron DeSantis scored wins, and one of those is a newcomer who unseated the incumbent candidate.

DeSantis endorsed 30 school board candidates across the state.

19 won outright Tuesday and another six are headed to the November general election.

DeSantis highlighted that winning record as he toured the state Wednesday.

“All across the state, Miami-Dade, Sarasota, Duval County. We were able to replace those union-backed candidates with conservative school board members,” said DeSantis.

In Duval, two DeSantis-backed candidates’ victories shift the political makeup of the school board.

April Carney was able to unseat incumbent Elizabeth Andersen thanks in part to an endorsement from Governor Ron DeSantis.

Incumbent Charlotte Joyce managed to hold onto her seat with the Governor’s endorsement as well.

Now, registered Republicans make up the majority.

Dean Black, Chair of the Duval GOP, hopes that will result in substantial policy changes.

“Teach them the basics. That’s what you’re there for. That’s why we pay taxes. Educate our children, don’t indoctrinate them,” said Black.

Read: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chalks up wins in school board races, including Duval

UNF political scientist Dr. Michael Binder said in general, the partisan politicking seen in other elected bodies isn’t front and center when it comes to school boards.

Still, he says there’s a possibility we could see more policies pushed that align with the Governor’s education agenda.

“Well, I certainly think some of the things you might see pushback on are mask mandates. You know, it’s entirely possible that with this makeup of the school board maybe some of the things that the school board has passed previously like the milage rate increase that made the ballot or even the half-cent sales tax, maybe some of those things wouldn’t have even made it out of the school board. Those are the kinds of things where you might see some differences going forward,” said Binder.

On the flip side, the Florida Democratic Party also endorsed 30 candidates throughout the state.

Ten of those candidates won, though none were in Northeast Florida.

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is concerned about the growing partisan influence in school board races, which are supposed to be non-partisan.

FEA President Andrew Spar said red or blue, school boards shouldn’t be politicized.

“When you see people talking about political issues and ideology rather than talking about educating kids, caring for kids, keeping kids safe, I don’t think that serves anyone’s best interest, especially our students,” said Spar.

Whether the trend toward partisan school board races intensifies or fades away remains to be seen, but this may just be the beginning, especially after Republicans saw how successful their involvement proved to be on Tuesday.

As for how Duval’s new DeSantis-backed school board member April Carney hopes to change local school policy, we attempted to reach her over Facebook for this story but didn’t hear back.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.