BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board has a new member after Tuesday’s primary, as Domino’s Pizza franchise owner Beth Narverud defeated retired businessman Jay Rowden in a bid for the District 3 seat vacated by Dianne Bonfield, unofficial results show.
While the other school board races resulted in run-offs, it was clear by Tuesday’s unofficial results that incumbents John Sweeney in District 1 and Cynthia Moore in District 5 will not be on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election.
To win the primary, a candidate must receive 51 percent of the vote. If not, the top two vote getters face each other in a run-off in the Nov. 4 general election.
School board members serve four-year terms and earn $36,810 annually, not including fringe benefits.
“I’m thrilled to death,” Narverud said. “It’s been a long road. I’ve been running for a year and a half. I’m glad the race is over, but I’m so happy with the result. When you’re passionate about what you do, it comes through, and the voters recognized that.”
She said her first priority on the school board will be to get “current technology in our schools.”
“And teachers have to have the supplies they need to get the job done,” she said. “It’s all about the budget.”
Rowden is married to county Commissioner Diane Rowden.
In District 1, Marc Johnson outpaced Don Whiting and the embattled Sweeney, who last month dropped a complaint against Schools Superintendent Lori Romano over the release of his son’s academic records.
A district investigation into who may have leaked the grades was inconclusive. Sweeney, who battled allegations that he used his influence to have his son’s high school grades changed, was seeking his third term.
Johnson, 64, a private investigator, and Whiting, 68, who owns an insurance company, will meet in November.
“Right now, I’m elated,” Johnson said. “I always thought I would go on. I think I’m the best candidate. I have real solutions facing the district, and I know what the problems are.
“The problems are lack of funding and dysfunctionality of the school board. That will change with Beth Narverud and whoever comes out of District 5. I think you’ll see a different complexion and greater unity.”
Whiting said he anticipated moving onto the November election.
“That was a desired result, so I’m fine,” he said. “I’m going to keep plugging away on my ability to handle and budget and help kids. If that plays well with the voters, then I’ll be just fine.”
In District 5, retired Springstead High School principal Susan Duval, 67, and electrical engineer Robert Neuhausen, 46, were the top vote-getters, meaning they will meet in November’s general election.
Electrical contractor Anna Liisa Covell, 63, also sought the District 5 seat. Moore was seeking her second term.
Neuhausen has twice unsuccessfully sought election for the District 4 seat currently held by Board Chair Gus Guadagnino.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support from the voters,” Duval said. “Truthfully, I did not expect to do that well, because I entered the race so late. I’m very humbled that people support what I stand for and believe in.”