A Springstead High School senior was declared the victor in the race for a student representative on the Hernando County school board — making him the second representative from the school to earn the position two years in a row.
However, unlike last year when a clear victor was determined after one round of voting, student delegates had to mark ballots three times before a candidate received a majority of votes as required.
By a vote of 26-18, student delegates from elementary, middle and high schools selected Springstead senior Sean Chapman to become the second high school student to be elected as a non-voting member of the school board during the student delegate election Thursday morning at Nature Coast Technical High School.
Last year, then Springstead senior Tori Selby handily won the elected position to be the first to serve by attending school board workshops and meetings along with leading student-led groups and advisory councils.
Chapman said he believes his focus on tackling school budget and spending issues across the board coupled with his expertise in math won over student voters.
"Some of the other candidates focused on issues such as bullying, but some schools already have strong anti-bullying programs already," Chapman said. "I felt that addressing problems affecting students would be more effective to the student body."
Five seniors representing each of the five high schools were vying for the student school board member spot and spent the past two to three weeks visiting delegates from each school to campaign for their votes.
Those five were Chapman; Joey Katz, from Central High School; Kayla Lewis, from Weeki Wachee High School; Matt Rhineberger, from Nature Coast Technical High School; and Alexandra Rey, from Hernando High School.
They then gathered at Nature Coast Wednesday and each gave one last speech asking for delegates' support before official voting began. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt oversaw the election process and made sure it followed proper procedure as close as possible to the rules followed by the Electoral College.
After one round of voting, Chapman had 14 votes, the most out of any of the five candidates. However, Blavatt said rules dictated that the student representative must acquire 23 of 44 votes.
That meant Chapman, along with Rhineberger and Rey — who both received 10 votes — were still in the running.
The second round of voting eliminated Rey, which left Chapman and Rhineberger in the final third round of voting.
Rhineberger was eliminated in the third round, having garnered 18 votes to Chapman's 26.
Following the election, Rhineberger said he felt he could finally relax now that the election was over.
"I think (Chapman) will do great," Rhineberger said. "We went to Challenger (K-8) together and I know we will work well together."
Blavatt congratulated all of the student candidates and noted that following the past few weeks of campaigning, he could see a definite difference in the seniors.
"Part of the idea is for you all to learn about the election process and what is involved in running for office and organizing a campaign," Blavatt said. "I can see the change now that you all have gone through the election process. I'd like to thank you all for running a clean campaign and not attacking each other."
Meanwhile, Chapman will begin serving on the school board during their workshop Tuesday. Meanwhile, he said he plans to work on creating a tutoring program involving high school students working with those in middle school and help Challenger K-8 bolster its anti-bullying program.
"I plan on staying in contact with (Selby) — she did such a great job last year and I'm going to see if there's anything I can continue with and improve on," Chapman said.